How Much Do You Know About Lawmen of the Old West?


By: John Milier

6 Min Quiz

Image: KRQE

About This Quiz

No other era in American history has had such a profound affect on the country’s cultural consciousness: It was the Wild West, the untamed period when states were still territories and the men and women who lived there did anything they could to survive. And sometimes, survival meant breaking every law and moral code known to humankind. To counter the chaos, a few men loaded their Colt Peacemakers and stared down criminals. Do you know these Old West lawmen?

Following the Civil War, scads of people roamed West looking for new lives. Some took up farming and ranching, while others tried to open saloons, brothels and other businesses that catered to the desires of hard-living men. The pockets of civilization in the West were often dangerous, and even the town names evoked dread: Tombstone, Deadwood and Canyon Diablo all were infamous for being inhospitable places to live.

Lawmen took up the tough task of trying to maintain some semblance of order on the frontier. They settled disputes, disarmed drunken gunmen, and in some places, they really did shoot down evildoers in the middle of the dirt streets, dueling to the death in short, violent gunfights.

These men, like Wyatt and Virgil Earp, William Brady and “Longhair” Jim Courtright knew how to handle revolvers … and they were not afraid to use them. These were the kind of men who chased down the likes of Billy the Kid and his outlaw friends. Take our Old West lawman quiz now! You’ll either earn that shiny star badge, you’ll wind up face-down in the dust, just another casualty of the Wild West’s anarchy.

Virgil Earp was a famous lawman in which legendary Wild West town?

Virgil Earp was the top lawman in Tombstone, Arizona, during the most famous shootout in world history -- the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place on October 26, 1881.


Of the four lawmen who took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, how many of them were related by blood?

Three of the four lawmen in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral were from the famous Earp clan. The dustup included Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan, as they took on five outlaws, risking their lives to keep law and order on the frontier.


John Henry Holliday was better known by his nickname, ______.

Few men of the Old West gained as much fame as John Henry "Doc" Holliday. He and his menacing mustache did their best to keep law and order in the vicinity of Tombstone, Arizona.


Doc Holliday was educated to serve in which profession?

Doc Holliday was a full-fledged dentist who worked in Atlanta. But after a tuberculosis diagnosis, he moved to the dry climates of the Southwest hoping for better health. Then, he became prolific gambler.


True or false, was Deputy U.S. Marshal Frank Dalton related to members of the infamous Dalton Gang?

The Dalton Gang included three Dalton brothers, and they ran amok, robbing trains all over the frontier. Their older brother Frank was a law-abiding and courageous deputy who was killed in a shootout in 1887, at the tender age of 28.


The Dalton brothers in the Dalton Gang were once _____.

Before they turned heel, the Dalton brothers followed in the footsteps of their deputy older brother, Frank. But after Frank's murder (and a series of financial misfortunes) the Daltons became outlaws, preying on frontier targets.


Virgil Earp led the lawmen who won the day during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Two months later, what happened to him?

Two months after his most famous gun battle, friends of the fallen outlaws stalked Virgil and shot him in the back. He survived, but was permanently disabled, dying later at the age of 62.


What did Wyatt Earp do after outlaws shot and maimed his brother Virgil?

Wyatt was incensed at the law's inability to bring his brother's shooters to justice, so he packed up his six-shooters and set out to find revenge. He and his men killed several of the criminals suspecting of shooting Virgil and another Earp brother, Morgan. This the part were you queue up Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" on YouTube. Then, and only then, may you continue our quiz.


Pat Garrett is best known for shooting which outlaw?

In the lore of the Wild West, Billy the Kid stands stall (or rather, stoops low) as an angry, murderous young icon. It was lawman Pat Garrett who hunted and killed Billy in 1881.


How did Pat Garrett kill Billy the Kid, an infamous Wild West outlaw?

Garrett tracked Billy to a home near Fort Sumner in California and hid in the shadows. Then, when Billy awoke in the night, Garrett shot him in the dark, wisely never giving the Kid a chance to add to his body count.


What did Wild Bill Hickok do before he headed to the American West?

Like many men who eventually wound up out West, Hickok fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union. He likely served part of that time as a spy. Later, he was an occasional lawman.


Allan J. Pinkerton was famous for founding which type of business?

Allan J. Pinkerton founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1850. The agency became famous for tracking all sorts of criminals in the Old West, mainly train robbers.


Lawman Bartholemew William Barclay Masterson had the really long given name and the unforgettable nickname, which was ____.

Forget "Bartholemew." Just call him "Bat." Bat Masterson was a bison hunter, gambler, adventurer and Wild West lawman, and he survived some epic gun battles, making it to the ripe old age of 67.


Bill Tilghman made a name for himself battling the forces of evil in which western town?

On the wide plains of Dodge City, Kansas, Bill Tilghman worked as a long-time lawman who faced down many fierce criminals. Dodge City is one of the legendary towns of the frontier era.


Sometimes lawman John Selman was best known for which 1895 act?

Like many lawmen of the Old West, John Selman was no saint, often slipping into the outlaw life. In 1895, he confronted and killed John Wesley Hardin, who killed dozens of men on the frontier during his outlaw days.


William J. Brady was a sheriff during which epic Western conflict?

Brady was a sheriff in New Mexico during the history-making Lincoln County War, a deadly confrontation between two Wild West groups from the late 1870s to the early 1880s.


In the Lincoln County War, William J. Brady found himself at odds with which icon of the Wild West?

As the area's sheriff, Brady opted to help a local businessman named James Dolan in his fight for power against Billy the Kid and the Regulators. His decision was a fateful one.


How did the career of lawman William J. Brady come to an end?

Brady picked his side in the Lincoln County war, and in doing so, made enemies out of Billy the Kid and the Regulators. The outlaws ambushed Brady and his men in the middle of town, riddling Brady's body with perhaps a dozen bullets.


Before his adventures as a lawman in the Wild West, how did Wild Bill Hickok almost die?

Before serving in the Civil War, Hickok was traveling through the West when he was attacked by a bear. He killed the bear but barely survived the attack.


Henry Andrew Thomas was a lawman who went by which nickname?

Henry Andrew "Heck" Thomas, or just "Heck," was a lawman who did much of his work in the area that's now Oklahoma. When he was just 12 years old, he saw action with the Confederacy during the Civil War.


How did the famous Wild Bill Hickok meet his untimely end?

Hickok lived his share of Old West adventures, but during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota, a man named Jack McCall shot Hickok in the back. It was the end of one of the West's iconic figures.


Heck Thomas led the posse that killed Bill Doolin, the head of which gang?

Lawman Bill Tilghman caught outlaw Bill Doolan, the leader of the Wild Bunch, who later escaped from jail. Heck Thomas and his posse tracked Doolin to the Oklahoma Territory, and in a violent confrontation, Thomas blasted Doolin with a shotgun.


In 1871, Wild Bill Hickok was in a famous gun battle with a man named Phil Coe. What happened next?

Hickok shot and killed a rival named Phil Coe in Abilene, Kansas, and during the ruckus, Hickok accidentally killed a local deputy -- a man who was trying to help Wild Bill keep the situation under control. In other words, not all Wild West stories ended in a blaze of glory.


What was Morgan Earp up to when he was murdered?

Talk about being behind the 8 ball! In October 1881, Morgan took part in the famed Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and by March 1882, the outlaw Cowboys wanted retaliation for the deaths of their comrades. They stalked Morgan and killed him while he was in the middle of a game of pool.


Bat Masterson lost his gig as marshal of Trinidad, Colorado, in part because he had another job on the side. What was it?

Bat Masterson found himself at odds with his superiors when he was the marshal in Trinidad, CO. He was also working as a faro dealer at a gambling parlor, a fact that clashed with his duties in law.


Jim Courtright was so feared as a gunfighter that his presence alone dropped crime rates in Fort Worth, Texas. How did he affect crime there?

Fort Worth was a bloody, murderous place before Jim Courtright became sheriff, and while he was on the job, the number of killings dropped to half of previous rates. But Courtright was killed during a street duel with a gambler and gunfighter named Luke Short.


At the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the Earp brothers took on a band of outlaws that called themselves what?

The Cochise County Cowboys, or just "Cowboys" were the men notorious for their illegal activites in the area of Tombstone. In the end, someone had to put a stop to their lawlessness. The Earps were just the men for the job.


Bill Tilghman was 70 years old and still working as a lawman when what happened to him?

In 1924, long after the West Was tamed, Bill Tilghman tried to apprehend a crooked government agent in Oklahoma. The man shot and killed Tilghman, one of the West's last living legends. Then, for good measure, he knocked over his walker.


How did Doc Holliday die?

Holliday contracted tuberculosis (from his mother, of all people) when he was a teenager. When he was just 36, the disease finally claimed his life.


At the end of his career, Bat Masterson was busy with which job?

Bat moved all over the country to pursue various jobs, and eventually began writing regularly. His stories about Old West exploits added greatly to his legend and the legends of others like him.


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