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What's Up With All These Names?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Tall Texan, Doc Holliday, Cattle Kate Watson, Calamity Jane. The history of the west is full of men and women with some very colorful names. Some were vicious outlaws, some were lawmen, and others were simply colorful characters. Most of these names were a nickname or alias used to hide their true identity.

Learn about the people behind some of the old west's best names in our alias quiz on the games page.

"Wild Bill" Hickok-- Was a Sheriff, a Cavalry Scout, an army spy, and a performer in several Wild West shows. Hickok's real name was James. One story claims Hickok received his nickname when he stopped an unruly mob from hanging a young boy and women shouted out "good for you Wild Bill". "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot in the back while he played cards in the Dakota Territory on August 2, 1876.

"Flat Nose" George Curry- Like many outlaws "Flat Nose" George Curry began his outlaw ways as a simple cattle thief. Then he moved on to robbing banks and trains. He even rode with the Wild Bunch for several years. George got his nickname after a horse kicked him in the nose. Like most outlaws "Flat Nose" George Curry was tracked down and killed by a posse. They shot him and dumped his body in an unmarked grave near Thompson, Utah.

Butch Cassidy-Butch Cassidy was born Robert Leroy Parker in 1866. As a teenager Parker met the outlaw Mike Cassidy and took his last name. Later he worked for a short time as a butcher in Wyoming. The infamous Butch Cassidy was born. When you are a criminal as well known as Butch Cassidy it is necessary to use a false name to hide your identity. Butch had many including George Cassidy and Lowe Maxwell.

Cattle Kate Watson-Her real name was Ella and she grew up in Kansas. But Cattle Kate Watson became famous for her cattle rustling ways in Johnson County Wyoming. Kate and James Averill were accused of stealing stray calves from the open range, branding them, and quickly selling them. Soon the large cattle ranchers tired of the thieving ways of Watson and Averill. They decided to take the law into their own hands. Kate and James Averill were taken from their homes at gunpoint and hung from a dead Cottonwood Tree. This incident marked the beginning of the Johnson County War, a long and bloody fight for control of the Wyoming cattle business.

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Last updated: 10-23-2009