Tag Archives: John Xavier Beidler

X: THE REAL-LIFE VIGILANTE

FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 4th!

X

The Vigilante called “X”.

JOHN XAVIER BEIDLER, AKA “X” – How does a real-life figure who was known by the cool nickname “X” fly under the radar as thoroughly as this man has? His real name was John Xavier Beidler with his nom de guerre coming from his distinctive middle initial.

Born in 1831 X was one of the most successful  Vigilantes in the history of the American West and his way of playing judge jury and executioner should have made him the subject of several gritty, “adult” westerns from the 1960s onwards. Spaghetti Westerns in particular could have romanticized him as a figure akin to that sub-genre’s famed Vigilantes like the Soldier of God and Sartana and others. 

By the 1850s Beidler was living in Kansas where he was associated with John Brown and some of the more active elements of the Abolitionist movement. In 1852 he took part in sabotaging the offices of a pro-slavery newspaper and the exchange of gunfire that accompanied the act. Whether or not X played any further role in the Bleeding Kansas violence is still being debated.

In 1863 John took part in the Montana Gold Rush and found himself frequenting Virginia City and Bannock. As in the California Gold Rush outlaws took advantage of the chaos to prey on gold shipments and payroll deliveries.

In Montana, however, the situation was further complicated by the fact that the gunslinging leader of the criminal faction, the one and only Handsome Henry Plummer, was also serving as the head of the area’s law enforcement.

(This was similar to the way in which modern-day criminal organizations often outrightly OWN the local authorities. Back then the crooks assumed a more active role by just pinning on a badge themselves and using their office as a cover for their illegal activities.)

Frustrated, many Montanans formed groups of Vigilantes to handle what the lawmen were too crooked or too inept to handle. Beidler refused to hide his identity like the other members of the Montana Vigilantes and so in late 1863 his fame as “X” began. Continue reading

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TEN NEGLECTED GUNSLINGERS OF THE OLD WEST

MASCOT COWBOY 2

“Hold it right there,” the gunslinger exclaimed, “We got us some apparent paradoxes and their effect upon contemporary philosophy to discuss … you savvy?”

JUST 30 DAYS UNTIL FRONTIERADO! As always Frontierado is about celebrating the myth of the Wild West and not the grinding reality. Part of the fun each year is an examination of neglected gunslingers from the 1800s. 

The likes of Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Calamity Jane and Jesse James have been the subject of a variety of movies and folk tales. Unfortunately some figures from the Wild West led lives at least as interesting as the big names did but have not gotten nearly as much attention. Here is a look at ten such men and women.

Rattlesnake Dick

Rattlesnake Dick

10. RATTLESNAKE DICK – No, he’s not a porn star. Dick Barton was originally from England but migrated with his family to the United States.In 1849 he joined the California Gold Rush but, having no luck at prospecting, formed an outlaw gang and took to robbing gold and payroll shipments instead. His second-in- command Cyrus Skinner was once shot down in a gunfight with Wells Fargo detectives and the stolen gold that Skinner had hidden before dying was fruitlessly sought after for years. Continue reading

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TEN NEGLECTED GUNSLINGERS: COUNTDOWN TO FRONTIERADO

JUST 30 DAYS UNTIL FRONTIERADO! As always Frontierado is about celebrating the myth of the Wild West and not the grinding reality. Part of the fun each year is an examination of neglected gunslingers from the 1800’s. 

The likes of Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Calamity Jane and Jesse James have been the subject of a variety of movies and folk tales. Unfortunately some figures from the Wild West led lives at least as interesting as the big names did but have not gotten nearly as much attention. Here is a look at ten such men and women.

Rattlesnake Dick

Rattlesnake Dick

10. RATTLESNAKE DICK – No, he’s not a porn star. Dick Barton was originally from England but migrated with his family to the United States.In 1849 he joined the California Gold Rush but, having no luck at prospecting, formed an outlaw gang and took to robbing gold and payroll shipments instead. His second-in- command Cyrus Skinner was once shot down in a gunfight with Wells Fargo detectives and the stolen gold that Skinner had hidden before dying was fruitlessly sought after for years. Continue reading

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GUNSLINGERS: FOUR MORE NEGLECTED MALE AND FEMALE GUNFIGHTERS

Klondike Kate

Klondike Kate

The Frontierado Holiday is coming up this Friday August 2nd! Here’s another seasonal post examining forgotten gunslingers of the American West who deserve a lot more attention than they generally receive. Remember, Frontierado celebrates the myth of the West, not the grinding reality.

4. KLONDIKE KATE – Kate Rockwell eventually became one of the Continue reading

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