Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Uncle Billy

This Day in Old West History: November 1, 1924

Many famous lawmen came out of the Old West, aka Wild West, which was untamed territory. Outlaws, gambling, cattle rustling, bootlegging, saloons, Indians, trappers and traders exaggerated the romance and violence of the period. Such were the times of gunfighters, as the Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, "Wild Bill" Hickok, Bat Masterson, "Bud" Ballew and more. This day in history reflects on the murder of one such legendary gunfighter, William Tilghman who was one of the most famous lawmen of the Old West. He was appointed City Marshall of Dodge City in 1884 and wore a badge of two twenty dollar gold pieces.

Tilghman in 1912
William Matthew "Bill" Tilghman, Jr.
(July 4, 1854 – November 1, 1924) 

Both friends and enemies referred to William Tilghman as "Uncle Billy". His reputation preceded him everywhere he traveled as one of the most honest and effective lawmen of his day. This was established after a not-so-perfect life beginning at the age of 16 when he moved west from Fort Dodge, Iowa. His flirtatiousness with crime included alleged train robbery and rustling for which he was arrested but never charged.
Despite this shaky start, Tilghman gradually built a reputation as an honest and respectable young man in Dodge City. He became the deputy sheriff of Ford County, Kansas, and later, the marshal of Dodge City. Tilghman was one of the first men into the territory when Oklahoma opened to settlement in 1889, and he became a deputy U.S. marshal for the region in 1891. In the late 19th century, lawlessness still plagued Oklahoma, and Tilghman helped restore order by capturing some of the most notorious bandits of the day.
Bill Tilghman holding his Winchester rifle.
Tilghman was unable to hang up his gun when expected to quietly retire. He had already been elected to the Oklahoma State Senate, co-wrote, directed, and starred in the movie, The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws, and served as the police chief of Oklahoma City. He accepted one last position as city marshal in Cromwell, Oklahoma. Tilghman was murdered by a corrupt prohibition agent who resented his refusal to ignore local bootlegging operations.

 Such were the days of the wild, wild west when men were men and most died with their boots on.