10 Wild West Lawmen Who Were More Dangerous Than The Outlaws
In the days of the frontiersmen, the line between wild and west often became blurred, with people switching and re-switching sides so frequently that it was difficult to tell who was the lawman and who was the outlaw. Outlaws often became bounty hunters to bring in extra money, and many were appointed as sheriffs by communities on the premise that it takes one to know one.
There were, perhaps, a few upstanding citizen sheriffs in white hats, but not many made it to the history books—probably because they didn’t last very long. Those whose names are remembered today often weren’t entirely aboveboard. Here are ten lawmen who gave the outlaws as good as they got.
10: Bill Tilghman
Bill Tilghman was born in Iowa but moved to Kansas. When he was still a young man, Tilghman became a hunter, and he claimed to have killed 12,000 bison in only five years, much to the annoyance of the local Native Americans, for whom this meant food. During an exchange in September 1872, Tilghman is said to have killed seven Cheyenne braves. It wasn’t his only scrape with the law. Two years later, he just barely escaped being lynched after he was accused of murdering a man in Granada, Colorado.
In 1875, he opened a saloon in Dodge City, Kansas, and in 1878, he became the town’s deputy sheriff. He is said to have collected more rewards for bringing in outlaws than anyone else. During his time as sheriff, he was accused of corruption and selling whiskey to the Native Americans. He was also arrested several times for running a brothel and facilitating gambling.
Tilgham was shot on November 1, 1924, while trying to arrest a corrupt Prohibition officer. Karma?
9: William Davis ‘Dave’ Allison
Dave Allison was appointed sheriff 1888 in Midland, Texas, at the tender age of 27. He remained as sheriff until 1903, when he joined the Arizona Rangers. In Arizona, he shot and killed a criminal with the wonderful name of “Three Fingered Jack” in a shoot-out. Allison is best known, however, for leading the posse that captured and killed the Mexican revolutionary-turned-outlaw Pascual Orozco in 1915. Allison is said to have been “the most noted gunman in Texas.”
Allison was, however, also said to have a serious gambling problem, and there were several accusations made against him regarding the misappropriation of money. At these times, Allison moved swiftly to another position in another town, albeit always working as a lawman. This was, presumably, a “no references required” kind of job.
Allison, along with a colleague, was killed by a pair of cattle thieves whom they were preparing to testify against. They were sitting, unarmed, in the lobby of a hotel, when the gunmen burst in and shot them.