And with that more sophisticated audience came the adventures of Bat Masterson, gentleman gambler, gunfighter, and lawman. Now we were getting a different look at the western hero.
However, it was the arrival on the scene of Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal in all his brocaded finery that truly captured the television audience’s imagination. The silver brocaded vest, the watch fob, the huge Buntline Special that he used to crack the bad guys over the head…wow! It seemed to roll it all into one. Amazingly, that image has endured despite the many, many books written about Wyatt Earp and his brothers, along with their nasty sidekick, Doc Holliday. Some of these books actually exposed the Earps for the bad boys they really were. Nevertheless, no one wanted to accept such a representation of their favorite lawman, and so Wyatt will reign supreme for some time to come.
But the tide is turning; many more serious students of the old west are becoming interested in all the peripheral characters that surrounded the intriguing stories fashioned out of the lives of the heroes. These men, both friends and enemies, have stories to tell as well. Some far more interesting than the heroes. More than that, they add the color to the kaleidoscope of peoples that made up the frontier and it’s myriad of adventures. They taught us more about how people lived in that time period; why some appeared to be bad when they really were only dealing with events around them, and why others appeared good when they had learned to deal with the hand dealt them and rise above it. All wore shades of grey.
This little volume is attempting to provide information that will help, hopefully, to give the interested reader a more rounded view of the men of Cochise County in the early 1880’s who have since come to be known as ‘outlaws.’ Some clearly are not, though they bear that stigma. Others have earned the black letter, but through circumstances they often had little control over. And of course, a few were just bad boys.
So the question is asked, “Who were these men?” Were they truly criminals; rustlers, murderers, stage robbers and thieves? Let’s see what you think after you read up on these few. Some have very little history to draw on, others have left a good trail. Follow their trail and see for yourself.