Wild West Discussion – October 2010

George Custer and David Crockett each died dramatically in battle—exactly how remains open to debate—at the Little Bighorn and the Alamo, respectively. Those might be the two most memorable deaths in the West, but what other Western endings do you find the most curious, interesting, ironic or simply the best?

3 Responses

  1. Steve Bock

    I would like to respond to you’r question about the demise of two major historical figures. I would like to add several more. The first and with great respect is Tasunka Witko, a Lakota we know as Crazy Horse. Another is William J. Fetterman. The details of that encounter would be very interesting to those of us who love history.
    When I speak of Tasunka Witko I think the truth may be as ugly as it is simple. It would be something to be able to make a movie about how a possible conspiracy to get rid of him was part of what happened. It would be interesting; something one can’t prove but certainly can believe possible. What about Ringo of Tombstone 1880’s notoriety?
    Another is Frank Kitchen isn’t that a story? Also can you tell me about the major founder/contributor to the founding of Phoenix?

  2. David Lauterborn


    You must have read our minds as well as the magazine. In the upcoming December issue, author/historian John Monnett writes about the Fetterman Fight (aka Fetterman Massacre), exploring the reasons behind Captain William Fetterman’s fateful decision to pursue an Indian raiding party into a deadly ambush near Fort Phil Kearny in then-Dakota Territory. (Crazy Horse was rumored by some to have led that raiding party.)

    Thanks for your involved readership!

    Dave Lauterborn
    Managing Editor
    Wild West

  3. Steve McCarty

    Was Crockett killed out right or did he surrender and was executed? We will never know. I am not sure it matters, but if you take the wrong side of that debate you can loose some teeth in Texas. We pretty much know how Fetterman died. Was he holding the other end of a handkerchief? Lt. Brown being on the other end? Crazy Horse was stabbled with a bayonet wealded by an Indian guard. Geronimo died drunk in a ditch beside the road after he fell off of his horse, to drunk to ride. Sitting Bull was murdered in or near his little cabin where I think he was living alone.

    Ringo’s death is an interesting mystery. Was he manic? Probably. Where his boots new and hurt his feet? Probably, it was said in those days that it took two months to break in a pair of good boots. Did he shoot himself? I think so. Was it Earp? No, if so he would have said so. Was it Holliday? I doubt it. If someone did kill him wouldn’t he have walked off with the pistol, Ringo’s ’76 Winchester and that watch? I would guess so.

    Butch killed Sundance and visa versa. Doc Holliday died of TB just as he knew he would. BTW: Wyatt did not see him and he did not die in a sanitarium. No, Doc died in his room and the Glenwood Hotel, which is no longer there. The old hotel’s spot is occuppied by a fast food joint. Wyatt died in bed. Johnny Clum was by his side. and Bat Masterson died at this desk at the newspaper. Virgil Earp died in 1906. He was the new sheriff of Goldfield. He only had the job for six months, but if you go to the court house there, for a price, they let you look at his employment contract with his signature on it.

    Billy the kid was shot in the heart, just as Garrett said he was, and there is no mystery how Wild Bill lost his life. What is interesting is that after the ball passed through his cheek it lodged in the wrist of the guy he was playing poker with and for the remainder of his life he’d say, while extending his wrist, “Feel that lump? It is the bullet that killed Wild Bill”. The other interesting thing is that they tried Marshall, who shot Bill. He was acquitted. The crowd didn’t accept that outcome and had him retried. The second trial took and Marshall was hanged.

    Then there is the story of Bill Wilson, who shot and killed Lily Casey’s father, Robert Casey in the streets of Lincoln in 1875. It was the first killing of the eventual Lincoln County War. They arrested Wilson. One of the few who was tried for the killings in Lincoln. He was tried and sentenced to be hanged. They did it, and let him hang there for three minutes. Then they cut him down and put him in his casket. Someone noticed he was still breathing, so they yanked him out and up again. This time the nine minutes dangling took and he passed away.


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