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A Tribute to the Legendary Lawmen, Outlaws, Cowboys, Indians and Scouts of the American West
Many Americans consider the era of the Old West one of the most fascinating chapters in our history. It’s an era that is uniquely American, and people around the world identify America with the era of the Old West. Our image of life on the Western frontier is greatly influenced by the photographs which survived from this era. These images enable us to envision what life might have been like during the late 1800’s.
Today, artists for America Remembers have captured twenty of the West’s most famous individuals on the “Legends of the Old West Tribute Rifle.” Those historic legends are captured in exacting detail, just as they might have appeared in the local newspapers of the day. This is one of the most detailed firearms tributes that America Remembers has ever created!
To bring these unforgettable faces together, we have chosen a legendary firearm from the Western era, the immortal Model 1866 Rifle, one of the most famous lever-action rifles in American history. This is the rifle nicknamed the “Yellow Boy” for its bright brass frame.
The Model ’66 was the first rifle to ever bear the Winchester name. Cowboys and Indians alike coveted the piece for its easy handling, sturdy construction and the fact that it could quickly fire 15 successive rounds. A real asset to a man on horseback!
Each Tribute is a meticulously detailed recreation of the legendary Winchester Model 1866 rifle, produced by the master craftsmen of A. Uberti. Craftsmen commissioned specifically by America Remembers decorate each rifle in 24-karat gold and nickel with a special blackened patinaed background to highlight the detailed portraits. The gold decorated hammer, lever, forearm cap, magazine cap and butt plate add to the rifle’s appeal.
There’s a fascinating story behind every image featured on the “Legends of the Old West Tribute Rifle.”
Few Western legends lived as varied a life as William Barclay “BAT” MASTERSON, a buffalo hunter, Army Scout, Indian fighter, gambler and Sheriff in Dodge City, the most famous end-of-trail cattle town. In a strange twist of fate, as the West settled down, Bat moved east to become a sportswriter for a New York City newspaper.
A leader in war and in peace, RED CLOUD, led one of the most successful campaigns ever waged against the United States by an Indian nation. His actions resulted in the Fort Laramie Treaty, which guaranteed the Black Hills and surrounding land to the Lakota people.
Flamboyant in his attire, deadly with his guns, WILD BILL HICKOK was considered the best of the gunfighters, the “prince of pistoleers.” His legend grew when he was shot during a card game in a Deadwood saloon holding a hand of aces and eights, forever known as the “dead man’s hand.”
Born a slave, NAT LOVE followed the road west to become a cowboy. He earned fame for his shooting and roping ability. The tale is told of how Love once roped the smokestack of a passing locomotive as a stunt. Who would have guessed that he’d end his adventurous life as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad?
No one could have foreseen the future for GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER when he posed for this photograph with his Indian scouts. There are more than 150 known photographic images of Custer, and not long after this one was made, he would die at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in one of the most memorable moments in American history.
BILLY THE KID is a true legend of the Old West. Born William H. Bonney, this outlaw legend remains larger than life. Facts about his life are often disputed, but legend has it that he may have killed up to 21 men, until he was finally shot by Pat Garrett.
“Hang ’em first and try ’em later” is reportedly one of JUDGE ROY BEAN‘s mottos. Was Bean, “the Law West of the Pecos,” an eccentric character or a dedicated man of justice? One thing is know for sure, he was officially appointed Justice of the Peace of Precinct No. 6 in Pecos County. And, he kept a pet bear named “Bruno.” A true legend of the Old West!
His face might not be familiar, but outlaw gang member BOB FORD earned his place in Western history with a single shot. He has been immortalized in song as the “dirty little coward” who killed the famous outlaw, Jesse James, with a shot in the back.
New Mexico lawman, PAT GARRETT, became one of the Old West’s most famous lawmen when he pursued, arrested, and later killed Billy the Kid, the Old West’s most famous outlaw. Later a captain in the Texas Rangers, he was appointed the tax collector for El Paso by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Demure in her frilly bonnet, the newspapers dubbed her CATTLE KATE. She was actually Ella Watson, a former prostitute and Montana homesteader who crossed paths with Wyoming cattlemen. “Kate” was hanged in 1889 in the Sweetwater lynching because it was said she’d been paid for her favors in rustled cattle, an incident that culminated in the Johnson County War, a fight between wealthy landowners and the small homesteaders.
BELLE STARR was called the “bandit queen.” Whether she earned her outlaw title honestly or was simply guilty by association, is part of her legend. Belle was known to associate with notorious company, including outlaws Jesse James and Cole Younger, and she fit right in! She did server time in prison for stealing horses; a sentence handed down by Judge Isaac Parker. In 1889, she was ambushed and shot in the back and died.
Considered a fair man, JUDGE ISAAC PARKER, “the hanging judge” of the Indian Territory hired deputies to bring in every robber, rustler and murderer in the region. Over two decades it’s reported he sentenced 168 men and four women to hang.
Rebellion in his eyes, freedom in his heart, GERONIMO, war chief of the Chiricahua Apache defied the U.S. Government. He and his followers resisted attempts to be settled, and the U.S. Army spent considerable time and resources tracking the legendary leader and his followers. Their epic fight to remain free is one of the most inspiring moments in the history of the West.
Ice-cold beer and justice were liberally dispensed at THE JERSEY LILLY, the Texas saloon and courtroom of Judge Roy Bean, the self-proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos.” Enamored with the English actress Lilly Langtry, Bean named his saloon in her honor.
JOHN H. “DOC” HOLLIDAY, trained as a dentist, found fame as a gambler and gunman. A friend of lawman, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday fought along side his friend at the famous OK Corral gunfight.
CHIEF JOSEPH of the Nez Perce fought valiantly, but in vain, to keep his people from being moved to a reservation from their ancestral home in Oregon. He is remembered for his eloquence and in surrender promised, “From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”
Perhaps one of the most controversial lawmen in the West, WYATT EARP is one of the most familiar faces from the days of the Western frontier. A gambler and lawman, his life represents one of the most discussed chapters of the Wild West.
CHIEF SITTING BULL and BUFFALO BILL form an iconic image of the Old West. In their own way, each tried to preserve the Old West. Sitting Bull tried to preserve his people’s way of life by securing their land. Through his Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill preserved the romance of the West, as we know it today.
Legendary markswoman ANNIE OAKLEY became a sensation in America and Europe, during the years she performed with Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. Diminutive and feminine, she was a crack shot with a rifle. It was said that she could shoot a coin at 30 paces and scramble an egg in mid air.
KIT CARSON was the pathfinder of the West. He scouted for explorer John Fremont in California and led the freight caravans that opened the West to settlement. It was said that no man knew the frontier better than Carson. He could ride, shoot, track, hunt and parley with the Indians. For many, Kit Carson personifies the spirit of the Old West.
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