Lawmen of the Old West Quiz

Nathan Chandler

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

In the mid-19th century, the Old West was a lawless area that attracted criminals and bandits. There were a few stout-hearted men willing to counter the rampant criminality, and these lawmen became legendary in their own right. How much do you know about lawmen of the Old West?

Wyatt Earp became famous for a gunfight that occurred where?

Earp and his brothers were involved in the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. That short gunfight made Earp one of the West's most famous figures.

At the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp was the deputy town marshal in Tombstone. Who was the city marshal, with more law experience?

Wyatt's brother, Virgil, was the Tombstone city marshal, and was one of several Earp brothers involved in the infamous shootout.

What charges were filed against the Earps after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

Charges were filed, but none of the lawmen was indicted.

Wyatt Earp was a religious and law-abiding man.

Earp had a rap sheet of his own. He stole a horse, escaped from jail and was sued repeatedly. Following his death, his legend became more and more exaggerated.

Wyatt Earp was involved in numerous gunfights throughout his life. Amazingly, how many times was he shot?

Earp had his clothing shot through with bullets, but somehow his enemies never drew blood. His apparent invincibility only added to his already large legend.

Late in his life, Wyatt Earp moved to Los Angeles, where he became friends with what movie star, known for his roles in Westerns?

John Wayne said that several aspects of his on-screen Western persona were based on Earp.

Doc Holliday was known primarily for his work in which field?

Holliday moved to the Old West in part for the drier climate, which was better for his poor health. There, he worked at least partly as a dentist.

Along with dentistry, Holliday made money from what nefarious act?

Holliday's gambling habit — and the fights he got into with fellow gamblers — led to him being arrested several times.

Holliday became a deputy in which town?

Holliday gained fame by befriending the Earp family in Tombstone, Arizona. He was in town during the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

According to legend, what trait helped make Holliday so effective in gunfights?

Because Holliday was apparently ambidextrous, he could carry two guns on him at all times — and use both at once when a difficult situation arised.

"Wild Bill" Hickok served as marshal for towns in which area?

Hickok served as sheriff in a couple of Kansas towns. He became known for delivering swift (and sometimes deadly) justice.

During a standoff in Jefferson County, Nebraska, faced how many men by himself — and shot them all?

Hickok clashed with four drunk cowboys and took them out into the street. The men drew their guns, but Hickok killed three of them and wounded the fourth. He escaped with only minor injuries.

Before his career as a lawman, Hickok served during what war?

Also during his early years, Hickok angered a mother bear and she mauled him. He was able to fight off and then kill the bear, but he was critically wounded and needed months to recover.

After surviving many shootouts, Hickok was killed while partaking in what activity?

Murder was a way of life in the Old West. Hickok angered another poker player in Deadwood, South Dakota. The man shot him right in the back, ending the life of a legend.

When he was killed, Hickok's poker hand included a pair of aces and a pair of 8s. How is that hand now referred to in poker?

The "dead man's hand" consists of a pair of black aces, a pair of black 8s, and any other fifth card.

Pat Garrett gained fame for his pursuit of which "young" outlaw?

Garrett clashed numerous times with Billy the Kid, who kept slipping out of his grasp. Eventually, Garrett shot and killed the bloodthirsty outlaw.

In what state did Garrett kill Billy the Kid?

Garrett tracked the Kid down at a friend's residence in Fort Sumter where he was sleeping. When the Kid awoke, Garrett shot him.

How did Pat Garrett die?

The man made many enemies in his days. Garrett was shot to death in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and no one was ever convicted of the crime.

Heck Thomas was a renowned lawman in what became which state?

Thomas gained huge respect for his effectiveness as a lawman. Oklahoma didn't become a state until 1907, meaning it was a wild place for a long time.

Which infamous gang did Heck Thomas help to destroy?

Thomas and other local lawmen are credited with ending the escapades of The Wild Bunch, one of the Old West's most feared gangs.

After gaining fame as a lawman, what did Thomas do?

After a successful career in law enforcement, Thomas appeared in a 1908 movie titled "The Bank Robbery." He died in 1912.

Allan Pinkerton gained fame in part by chasing which outlaw?

Pinkerton wanted to nab the notorious Jesse James, who was known for his brutality and disregard for the law. The chase became legendary.

Pinkerton eventually caught James and sent him to prison.

Pinkerton fruitlessly chased James for many months but never captured him. It was one of Pinkerton's rare failures.

How did Pinkerton first gain fame in the law enforcement world?

Pinkerton claimed to have foiled an assassination plot against President Abraham Lincoln. He started a company specializing in law enforcement and protection.

What differentiated Bass Reeves from many other Wild West lawmen?

Reeves was one of the only black lawmen in the Old West, and he was also a former slave. He spent most of his career in the territories around Arkansas and Oklahoma.

What was one nickname given to Bass Reeves?

Some people called him the Invincible Marshal because he was so fearless and managed to survive so many violent confrontations. Outlaws were wise to avoid Reeves, who reportedly arrested around 3,000 felons during his career.

John Selman is best known for killing which outlaw?

John Wesley Hardin was a vicious killer who claimed to have killed dozens of men. Selman blasted him outside a saloon in El Paso.

After being a lawman, Selman became an outlaw and led a group that was called what?

Selman turned heel and led The Rustlers around the territories. They were at times accused of atrocities such as murder and rape. Eventually, he gave up outlaw life and again became a lawman.

Bat Masterson gained fame as a lawman in Kansas and other parts of the West. After leaving the West, he eventually served as deputy U.S. marshal in which city?

From the open Old West … to the confines of New York City. After the turn of the century, Masterson wound up with a top job policing one of the biggest cities in the country.

In his later years, Masterson also took up what?

Masterson became a prolific writer. He used much of his ink writing stories about his adventures in the West, a fact that helped to cement his legend.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes