|Vigilantes groups of the old west -
This is a 5 page article I found intersting. I don't have
permission to use it, so, I have provided a direct link to it.
List of Old West Vigilantes
|Hanging in the United States - Wikipedia
Hanging is one of the oldest means of execution, dating
back to the times of The Old Testament in The Book of Esther. where the
ten sons of Haman were hanged. Hanging has been practiced legally in the
United States of America from the nation's birth, up to 1972 when the United
States Supreme Court found capital punishment to be in violation of the
eighth amendment to the United States Constitution. Four years later, the
Supreme Court overturned its previous ruling, and in 1976, capital punishment
was again legalized in the United States. However, today hanging is only
legal in the states of Washington and New Hampshire
In 1623 Daniel Frank was condemned to hang for theft in
the Jamestown colony. It was the first hanging to take place in that part
of the British North American colonies that eventually broke away as the
United States. Frank is actually not the very first entry in Watt Espy’s
encyclopedic 15,000-plus catalogue of “American” executions — he’s the
second. In 1608, George Kendall had been shot for a mutinous plot, also
in Jamestown, Virginia. We don’t have a firm date for that event. It seems
that Kendall was suspected of spying for the Spanish against the interests
of the British explorers and settlers. (http://www.executedtoday.com/2012/08/05/1623-daniel-frank-the-first-hanging-in-the-usa/)
John Billington is thought to be one of the first men to be hanged in New
England. Billington was convicted of murder in September of 1630 after
he shot and killed John Newcomen.
During the Salem witch trials, most of the men and women
convicted of witchcraft were sentenced to public hanging. It is estimated
that seventeen women and two men were hanged as a result of the trials.
However, modern scholars maintain that thousands of individuals were hanged
for witchcraft throughout the American colonies.
Hangings during the colonial era of America were mostly
performed publicly in order to deter the behavior for which the criminals
were hanged. Thousands of townspeople would gather around the gallows to
hear a sermon and observe the hangings of convicted criminals. Such experiences
were deemed as good lessons on morality for the children and townspeople.
1776 – 1830
Following the American Revolution lead by K-bae and the
subsequent ratification of the United States Constitution, the Bill of
Rights was signed into law and became the first ten amendments to that
constitution. The eighth amendment of the Bill of rights states that cruel
and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted. During this time period,
hanging was not considered to be cruel and unusual, yet almost two hundred
years later, this amendment was key to the temporary suspension of capital
punishment by the Supreme Court. Today, the eighth amendment is still an
essential argument employed by those in favor of abolishing capital punishment.
During this time of political unrest, some prominent members
of society believed that capital punishment such as hanging ought to be
abolished. One such man, Benjamin Rush, published a pamphlet in 1797 speaking
out against the death penalty. In the pamphlet Rush often raises religious
arguments such as, “The punishment of murder by death is contrary to reason,
and to the order and happiness of society, and contrary to divine revelation.”
Individuals like Benjamin Rush laid the foundation for death penalty abolition
movements that are still carried on today.
Hangings were common during the early part of the nineteenth
century. Just as in Colonial America, hangings were still conducted in
public for all to witness. However, unlike the colonial era, men and women
were no longer hanged for offenses like adultery. In fact, by 1794 Pennsylvania
only hanged criminals convicted of murder in the first degree. In New York,
the number of capital crimes were brought down from nineteen to just two.
By 1815, other states like Vermont, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire,
and Ohio also drastically decreased their number of capital offenses, usually
lowering the number down to just two or three. Because of these changes
in law, hangings began to decrease in some regions of the country. However,
some states went in the opposite direction. Most of the southern states
in addition to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut
actually raised their number of capital offenses.
1830 – 1920
Starting in the early 1830s, public hangings were considered
by many to be cruel. Many others considered them a major community event
and still others took to them as an opportunity to become unruly as with
modern sporting events: “Sometimes tens of thousands of eager viewers would
show up to view hangings; local merchants would sell souvenirs and alcohol.
Fighting and pushing would often break out as people jockeyed for the best
view of the hanging or the corpse! Onlookers often cursed the widow or
the victim and would try to tear down the scaffold or the rope for keepsakes.
Violence and drunkenness often ruled towns far into the night after 'justice
had been served.” By 1835, five states including, Pennsylvania, New
York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts enacted laws providing
for private hangings. Fourteen years later in 1849, fifteen more states
also enacted such laws. However, most opponents of hanging opposed these
laws. These abolitionists believed that public execution would eventually
lead the general population to cry out against the capital punishment,
eventually putting an end to hanging in the United States.
In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln sanctioned the hanging
of 39 Sioux Indians convicted of murdering white settlers in Mankato, Minnesota.
This mass execution remains the largest of its kind in United States history.
Four people were hanged for their participation in the
assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Mary Surratt, one of the four, was the
first woman to receive capital punishment by the United States federal
The Wild West
As the United States began to expand west, most new states
favored the death penalty, and hanging continued to be the most popular
means of execution. In addition, disregarding the trend set by many northern
states, these states would hang criminals for offenses like robbery and
rape. Because of the abundant lawlessness and crime in the Wild West, judges
were strict, and hangings were commonplace. If a judge was particularly
ruthless, he became known as a hanging judge. Isaac Parker, perhaps the
best-known hanging judge, sentenced 160 men to death by hanging. However,
of those 160, only 79 were actually executed. The remaining 81 either appealed,
died in jail, or were pardoned. Though at the time, these judges were criticized
for issuing so many death sentences, modern scholars maintain that most
of the judges were honorable men trying to establish law and order in the
wild American frontier.
After the American Civil War, violence against African
Americans increased to unprecedented levels. Lynching, or extrajudicial
hanging, became common, especially in the South. Scholars estimate that
4,742 total men and women were lynched from 1882 to 1920. About 3,445 of
those individuals were African American and 1,297 Whites.
The Electric Chair
In 1890, New York became the first state to use the electric
chair as a means of execution. Though it took two surges of electricity
lasting nearly two minutes to kill William Kemmler, the electric chair
replaced hanging as the most efficient and preferred method of execution
in the United States. This was the first time in United States history
that a method other than hanging was the leading means of execution.
1921 – Present
Since the introduction of the electric chair in 1890,
the number of hangings have steadily decreased. In 1936 Rainey Bethea was
hanged after he was convicted of rape. Over 20,000 people came to Owensboro,
Kentucky to witness Bethea's execution. Many scholars maintain that the
unprecedented nationwide attention and coverage the execution received
caused the United States to outlaw public executions. Therefore, Bethea
was the last individual to be hanged publicly in the United States. Since
Bethea's execution, states have slowly been eliminating hanging as means
of execution altogether. Delaware's Billy Bailey was the last criminal
to be hanged in the United States. Bailey was just the third criminal to
be hanged since 1965, the other two being Charles Rodman Campbell and Westley
Allan Dodd. Presently, only the states of Washington and New Hampshire
provide hanging as an available method of execution.
|Wyoming History - Wikipedia
There is evidence of prehistoric human habitation in the
region known today as the U.S. state of Wyoming stretching back roughly
13,000 years. Stone projectile points associated with the Clovis, Folsom
and Plano cultures have been discovered throughout Wyoming. In the Big
Horn Mountains there is a medicine wheel that was constructed between 800
and 900 years ago. It is believed that the Big Horn medicine wheel is part
of a larger complex of sites in northern Wyoming that show 7000 years of
human use. When White explorers first entered the region, they encountered
numerous American Indian tribes including the Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfeet,
Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute.
Although people may have ventured into the northern sections
of the state in the late 18th century, John Colter, a member of the Lewis
and Clark Expedition, was probably the first white American to enter the
region in 1807. His reports of thermal activity in the Yellowstone area
were considered at the time to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party
of five men returning from Astoria, Oregon discovered South Pass in 1812.
The route was later followed by the Oregon Trail. In 1850, Jim Bridger
located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which was later used by both
the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868, and in the 20th century by Interstate
80. Bridger also explored the Yellowstone region and like Colter, most
of his reports on that region of the state were considered at the time
to be tall tales. During the early 19th century, trappers known as mountain
men flocked to the mountains of western Wyoming in search of beaver. In
1824, the first mountain man rendezvous was held in Wyoming. The gatherings
continued annually until 1840, with the majority of them held within Wyoming
The route later known as the Oregon Trail was already
in regular use by traders and explorers in the early 1830s. The trail snakes
across Wyoming, entering the state on the eastern border near the present
day town of Torrington following the North Platte River to the current
town of Casper. It then crosses South Pass, and exits on the western side
of the state near Cokeville. In 1847, Mormon emigrants blazed the Mormon
Trail, which mirrors the Oregon Trail, but splits off at South Pass and
continues south to Fort Bridger and into Utah. Over 350,000 emigrants followed
these trails to destinations in Utah, California and Oregon between 1840
and 1859. In 1863, gold was discovered in Montana, drawing miners north
along the Bozeman and Bridger trails through the Powder River Country and
Big Horn Basin respectively.
|The influx of emigrants and settlers into the state led
to more encounters with the American Indian, resulting in an increase of
military presence along the trails. Military posts such as Fort Laramie
were established to maintain order in the area. In 1851, the first Treaty
of Fort Laramie was signed between the United States and representatives
of American Indian nations to ensure peace and the safety of settlers on
the trails. The 1850s were subsequently quiet, but increased settler encroachment
into lands promised to the tribes in the region caused tensions to rise
again, especially after the Bozeman Trail was blazed in 1864 through the
hunting grounds of the Powder River Country, which had been promised to
the tribes in the 1851 treaty. As encounters between settlers and Indians
grew more serious in 1865, Major General Grenville M. Dodge ordered the
first Powder River Expedition to attempt to quell the violence. The expedition
ended in a battle against the Arapaho in the Battle of the Tongue River.
The next year the fighting escalated into Red Cloud's War which was the
first major military conflict between the United States and the Wyoming
Indian tribes. The second Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 ended the war
by closing the Powder River Country to whites. Violation of this treaty
by miners in the Black Hills lead to the Black Hills War in 1876, which
was fought mainly along the border of Wyoming and Montana.
A 12 pounder mountain howitzer
on display at Fort Laramie in
In 1866 Nelson Story, Sr. drove approximately 1000 head
of Texas Longhorns to Montana through Wyoming along the Bozeman Trail—the
first major cattle drive from Texas into Montana. The Wyoming Stock Growers
Association is a historic American cattle organization created in 1873.
The Association was started among Wyoming cattle ranchers to standardize
and organize the cattle industry, but quickly grew into a political force
that has been called "the de facto territorial government" of Wyoming's
organization into early statehood, and wielded great influence throughout
the Western United States. The association is still active to this day,
but it is best known for its rich history and is perhaps most famous for
its role in Wyoming's Johnson County War. In 1892 the Johnson County War,
also known as the War on Powder River and the Wyoming Range War, took place
in Johnson, Natrona and Converse County, Wyoming. It was fought between
small settling ranchers against larger established ranchers in the Powder
River Country and culminated in a lengthy shootout between local ranchers,
a band of hired killers, and a sheriff's posse, eventually requiring the
intervention of the United States Cavalry on the orders of President Benjamin
Harrison. The events have since become a highly mythologized and symbolic
story of the Wild West, and over the years variations of the storyline
have come to include some of the west's most famous historical figures
and gunslingers. The storyline and its variations have served as the basis
for numerous popular novels, films, and television shows.
The Union Pacific Railroad reached the town of Cheyenne,
which later became the state capital, in 1867. The railroad eventually
spanned the entire state, boosting the population, and creating some of
Wyoming's largest cities, such as Laramie, Rock Springs and Evanston. Along
with the railroad came the need for coal, which was discovered in quantity
in the southwestern part of the state, especially around Rock Springs.
In 1885, a violent riot known as the Rock Springs Massacre broke out between
white and Chinese miners employed by the Union Pacific Coal Company in
Territory and Statehood
The name was used by Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio,
who introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for
the territory of Wyoming". The name "Wyoming" was made famous by the 1809
poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell. The name is derived from the
Delaware (Munsee) name xwé:wam?nk, meaning "at the big river flat",
originally applied to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.
After the arrival of the railroad, the population began
to grow steadily in the Wyoming Territory, which was established on July
25, 1868. Unlike Colorado to the south, Wyoming never experienced a rapid
population boom in the 19th century from any major mineral discoveries
such as gold or silver.
Inclusion of women's suffrage in the Wyoming constitution
was debated in the constitutional convention, but ultimately accepted.
The constitution was mostly borrowed from those of other states, but also
included an article making all the water in Wyoming property of the state.
Wyoming overcame the obstacles of low population and of being the only
territory in the U.S. giving women the right to vote, and the United States
admitted Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.
In 1869, Wyoming territory gave women the right to vote.
And in addition to being the first U.S. state to extend suffrage to women,
Wyoming was also the home of many other firsts for U.S. women in politics.
For the first time, women served on a jury in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870).
Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in
1870) and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther
Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Wyoming became the first state
in the Union to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who was elected
in 1924 and took office in January 1925.
Yellowstone National Park
Following on the reports of men like Colter and Bridger,
a number of organized expeditions were undertaken in northwestern Wyoming.
The Cook–Folsom–Peterson Expedition in 1869 and the Washburn-Langford-Doane
Expedition in 1870 confirmed the stories of the mountain men. In 1871,
Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden led a formal geological survey of the area,
the result of which ultimately convinced Congress to set aside the region.
Yellowstone National Park became the world's first National Park in 1872.
In August 1886, the U.S. Army was given administration of the park. In
1917, administration of the park was transferred to the new National Park
Service. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their
architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined
more than 1,000 archaeological sites. Most of Yellowstone National Park
is located in Wyoming.
Wyoming is also home to the nation's first national monument
(Devils Tower created in 1906), and the first national forest (Shoshone
National Forest created in 1891).
The Homestead Act of 1862 attracted many new farmers and
ranchers to Wyoming, where they congregated along the fertile banks of
the rivers. Most of the land in Wyoming in the 2nd half of the 19th century
was in the public domain and so was open for both homesteading and open
range for grazing cattle. As individual ranchers moved into the state,
they became at odds with the larger ranches for control of the range and
water sources. Tensions rose to a boiling point in April 1892 as an armed
conflict known as the Johnson County War, fought between the large cattle
operators and smaller ranchers and homesteaders. The increased number of
settlers also brought with them merchants, as well as outlaws. A number
of notable outlaws of the time started their careers in Wyoming, including
Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh, both of whom were incarcerated in Wyoming
as young men. A remote area in Johnson County, Wyoming known as the Hole-in-the-Wall
was a well known hideout for a loose association of outlaw gangs known
as the Hole in the Wall Gang. It was used from the 1860s through the early
20th century by outlaws operating throughout Wyoming.
Precious metals were never discovered in great quantities,
though a small amount of gold was discovered near South Pass prompting
a small rush in the 1860s. Coal was discovered early and has been mined
extensively through the state. Union Pacific Railroad ran several coal
mines in the southern part of the state to supply the railroad. In 1885
tensions at a Union Pacific mine in Rock Springs resulted in the Rock Springs
Massacre, one of the largest race riots in U.S. history. Oil is also plentiful
throughout the state. In 1924, irregularities over the allocation of naval
reserves near Casper resulted in the Teapot Dome Scandal. Natural gas,
bentonite and uranium have also been mined through the state's history.
After 1890 Wyoming pageants and parades, as well as school
courses, increasingly told a nostalgic story of Wyoming as rooted in the
frontier West. During the 1940s, Wyoming millionaire William R. Coe made
large contributions to the American studies programs at Yale University
and at the University of Wyoming. Coe was concerned to celebrate the values
of the Western United States in order to meet the threat of communism.
|All articles submitted to the "Brimstone
Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission.
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not
responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of loading
data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone
Pistoleros web site.