The Topic:
Old West

This Old West project has a companion People of the West page. Here you can find links to hundreds of biographical websites with lots more information about individual outlaws, lawmen, military leaders, native Americans, ranchers, cattle barons, and leaders in the early West. . . so many websites that we had to set up a separate location for all of them. Don't miss it!
 
Easier - Sometimes people talk about the 'West,' the 'Wild West,' or the 'Old West.' They are usually referring to the people and events of the western region of the United States during the second half of the 1800's.
 
Harder - The romantic view of the Old West can be seen in western movies and novels that depict the Wild West as a time of gunfights, gambling, and Indian attacks. In reality, most inhabitants of the West didn't carry a gun or participate in shootouts. A century ago the American West was a rough and wild place. Far from the control of the US government in the East, the Old West was ruled by its own set of laws.
 
In the early 1840s, settlers began moving toward the Pacific Northwest. After gold was found in California in the mid 1800s, people began to flood the west in search of their fortune. Next, cowboys began rounding up wild cattle and organizing herds. The pony express, the stagecoach, and ultimately the Transcontinental Railroad and the telegraph began to join the East and the West. By 1900, the range was fenced in to create ranches, the Native Americans moved to reservations, and many frontier towns became well-established cities.
 
African Americans and the Old West by M. Sylvester, Long Island University
http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/african/west/west.htm
In the 'old West' one out of every three cowboys were African, Indian, or Mexican. This site has some information about a few of the African American cowboys.
Related Websites:
2) African-Americans In The Wild West by A. Burton http://www.oklahombres.org/burton.htm
3) Black Cowboys http://www.blackcowboys.com/
4) Black Cowboys - Parts I by K.W. Porter http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/bkcowboy.htm
5) Black Cowboys by By B.J. McRae, Jr.
http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/bkcwboy2.htm
6) Black Cowboys By R.W. Slatta, North Carolina State University
http://social.chass.ncsu.edu/slatta/blackcowboys.htm
7) Bronze Buckaroo http://members.tripod.com/~IronHorseman/
8) Cowboys of Color http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/9713/
9) Labor of Negro Cowboys http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading7.html
10) People of Color on America's Western Frontier: Lest We Forget by B.J. McRae, Jr. http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/western.htm
 
Along the Chisholm Trail
http://www.texhoma.net/~glencbr/p001.html
In the late 1900s, cattlemen rounded up millions of longhorns in Texas, cropped their ears, branded their hides, and drove them across the Indian Nations into Kansas. One of the trails was the Chisholm. This great website takes you along!
Other Cattle Drive Sites:
2) Cattle and Cowley County Cattle Drives http://www.ausbcomp.com/~bbott/Subjects/cattle.htm
3) Cattlemen and Cowboys http://hometown.aol.com/Gibson0817/cattle.htm
4) Cattle Trailing from The Handbook of Texas Online
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/ayc1.html
5) Chuck Wagon http://www.phudpucker.com/bluebonn/chuck%20wagon.htm
6) Chuck Wagon Central http://lonehand.com/chuckwagon_central.htm
7) Early Cattle Trails Blazed Way for First Settlers by T. Cannon http://www.tecumsehok.com/chamber/Frontier/1998/Trails1.htm
8) Oliver Loving and the Goodnight-Loving Trail
http://www.net.westhost.com/loving.shtml
9) Texas Cattle History http://www.house.gov/combest/cattlehist.htm
10) Texas Longhorn Country http://www.dfwnetmall.com/e-mag/longhorn.htm
  
New Perspectives on the West
http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/
This companion website to the Ken Burns production on the history of the West, has information about the people, places, events and more.
Related Websites:
2) American West http://www.AmericanWest.com/index2.htm
3) Old West by J. Janke http://homepages.dsu.edu/jankej/oldwest/oldwest.htm
3) Old West - Suite 101 by E. Gibson http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/old_west
4) WestWeb http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/westweb/
5) Wild Wild West http://www.gunslinger.com/west.html
 
Vaqueros: The First Cowboys from Texas Parks & Wildlife
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/jose/vaquero.htm
Texas is famous for its cattle ranches, such as the King Ranch, the XIT, the 6666, and many others. The main characters associated with the ranch -- ranchers, cowboys, Indians, rustlers and outlaws -- are familiar and deeply seated icons who are ingrained into our history and heritage. But despite all appearances, the ranch is not an invention of the United States; it is essentially Mexican in origin.
Related Website:
2) Vaqueros: Origins of the First American Cowboys by D.G. Y Chavez
http://www.unm.edu/~gabbriel/
 
After visiting several of the Old West websites, complete one or more of the following activities:
 
Complete a Old West WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures to complete one of these webQuests:
1) Back To The Wild, Wild West (Grades 9-12) by J. Reeder http://www.madison.k12.ky.us/district/projects/WebQuest/West/west.htm
2) Characters of the Wild, Wild West ~ Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (Grade 6) by M. Krebs http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/edis771/fall98webquests/student/smelvillekrebs/home.html
3) Cowboy Corral (Grade 5) by L. Lilienthal, B. Sadler, and K. Huber
http://www.besd61.k12.il.us/webquests/5th%20Grade/cowboys/student.htm
4) Join A Cattle Drive from Harcourt School Publishers http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/book_buddy/yippee/building.html
A closely-related activity is an online scvenger hunt about the Chisholm Trail:
5) Can You Follow the Trail? http://www.roundrockisd.org/chisholmtrail/scavengerhunt.htm
 
Design Your Own Livestock Brands. Learn about the history of branding at Branding Horses & Cattle, Cattle Brands from The Handbook of Texas Online, and the History of Cattle Brands from Devil's Rope-Barbed Wire Museum. Brands are still used today to identify ownership and deter rustling of livestock. To find out about a more modern method, go to Freeze Branding Cattle by J.C. Whittier and J.E. Ross, University of Missouri-Columbia. Other marking methods are used such as ear notching and tattoos. Now, design your own original brand for your 'outfit.' Draw your design. Share and explain it.
 
Make A Quilt of Historical Brands. Create a brand quilt. This might be a group project with each person taking one brand and then designing and making a quilt block.
 
Organize an Old West Day. Put together a group of planners and doers and plan your own celebration of the 'Old West.' You will probably want to involve a few adults (teachers and parents) to help out. Some startup ideas that you might incorporate are horseshoes and roping competitions. Other events could include a trail ride (bikes instead of horses?) and a 'mining' scavenger hunt. You may want to incorporate some ideas found at Geocaching; do a search in your area - - there may be a nearby cache that you will want to use. Bring in an expert; perhaps a local horseperson or rancher who might bring along some of their tack for a demonstration/presentation. Top the day off with some square dancing, you can find some useful links at another eduScapes 42eXplore project: Dance.
 
Compare and Contrast Two People from the Old West. You can find lots of biography links on the companion page: People of the West. There pick two different persons such as an outlaw and a lawman, a cattle baron and a lawman, male and female, or a native American and a military leader. You should not necessarily pick two persons who knew or were associated with the other. Now learn as much as you can about the two people and compare and contrast them and their lives.
 
Write an Old West Biography. Choose your favorite character from the Old West. Write a short story about an event in their lives. An alternative would be to write a poem or song about their life. Share your creative writing project.
 
Draw a Scene from the Old West. Pick a setting: town, ranch, trail, cattle drive, railroad, mining, or some other representative scene. Then make a poster that captures that setting. Give it a banner headline. Display your artwork.
 
Uncover the Myths of the Old West. History has a way of sometimes distorting the facts. This is certainly the case for the Old West. Identify and explain as many of the commonly held misconceptions about the Old West. Put together a presentation that shows what you uncover. You may want to develop a desktop presentation in MS PowerPoint or in Hyperstudio. Maybe you will choose to present your findings by posting them in a new webpage.
 
Construct an Old West Diorama. Put together a tabletop diorama display of a western town or a ranch or mining scene, battlefield layout, or some other scene from the Old West. An alternative activity could be to build a model chuckwagon or stagecoach.
Websites By Kids For Kids
America's Old West (1800s) (Award-winning 1996 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge)
http://library.thinkquest.org/3708/gold.htm
You are entering a gold mine left over from the California gold rush in 1849. Each screen will give you choices: which direction to go or action to take. As you progress, you will discover different things, including five artifacts.
 
Plains Indians at the John G. Neihardt Internet Project
http://www.wayne.esu1.k12.ne.us/neihardt/plains.html
This site includes a chronology and historical documents, and information about important figures, culture and society, and more.
 
Trail Drives
http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys1.html
Starting off with trail drives, this is the first of a series of student articles about cowboys.
Other Articles in the Series:
2) How Cowboys Lived http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys2.html
3) What Cowboys Earned http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys3.html
4) Early Cattle in Wyoming http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys4.html
5) Cowboys http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys5.html
6) Cowboys and Guns http://web.ccsd.k12.wy.us/cowboys/cowboys6.html
 
More Websites for the Old West
Visit our companion People of the West page. Here you can find links to hundreds of biographical websites . . . so many that we had to set up this separate page for all of them. The links are alphabetized and include lawmen, outlaws, native Americans, military leaders, and women . . . all persons who left their mark on the history of the West.
 
Adventures of Wells Fargo
http://www.wellsfargo.com/about/stories/stories_overview.jhtml
Here you can find authentic stories taken from the historical archives of Wells Fargo that let you discover life as it was on the western frontier.
Related Websites:
2) Butterfield Overland Mail - Stitching the Country Together by J. Mazzio http://www.zianet.com/snm/butter.htm
3) Riding The Overland Stage, 1861
http://www.ibiscom.com/stage.htm
4) Stagecoach Lines at The Handbook of Texas Online
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/SS/ers1.html
5) Wells Fargo & Company http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/old_west/44339
 
Camels in the West by E. Gibson at the Old West
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/old_west/20176
Many people thought bringing camels to use in the southwest was a good idea, but nobody acted on it until 1853. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis thought that camels had many practical applications, especially military use.
 
Frontier Trails of the Old West
http://www.frontiertrails.com/oldwest/
Here you will find articles about stage routes, railroads, outlaws and lawmen, native Americans, mining and geology, and more.
 
Vaquero/Cowboy Lingo by D.G. Y Chavez
http://www.unm.edu/~gabbriel/chap9.html
This list consists of mostly western words of Spanish or Mexican origin along with a few other Americanisms which were borrowed from Spanish.
Similar Websites:
2) Cowboy Dictionary from Texas Cowboy Reunion, Stamford, Texas
http://www.tcrrodeo.com/html/dictionary.htm
3) Cowboy Lingo by E. Cox from Deadwood Magazine
http://www.deadwood.com/magazine/archives/Lingo.htm
4) Texas Dictionary http://www.texashillcountryshopper.com/texas_dictionary.htm
 
Guns, Firearms, Peacemakers and Such...
http://www.netw.com/cowboy/_feature/feature1198.html
Nothing connotes the Wild West more strongly than the distinctive firearms that were often used by trapper, native Americans, soldiers, gunfighters, and lawmen of that era.
Related Website:
2) Guide To Period Firearms and Their Use from K. Vaglienti
http://www.oseda.missouri.edu/~kate/guardians/maddock/info/info-guns.html
3) J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum http://www.state.ok.us/~jmdavis/arms.html
 
Gunslingers and Outlaws
http://www.americanwest.com/pages/gunsoutl.htm
This links-site connects to several sites providing biographical information about gunslingers and outlaws.
Related Websites:
2) Kansas Gunfighters http://history.cc.ukans.edu/heritage/research/gunfighters.html
3) Western Violence by R. Bent
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading6.html
4) Wild West Outlaws - (Disorganized, but does contain summary of facts)
http://www.collegetermpapers.com/TermPapers/History_Other/The_Wild_West.shtml
 
LC Ranch - Cattle Baron of the Gila by J. Hurst
http://www.zianet.com/snm/lcranch.htm
It has been written that behind every great personal fortune lies a crime, and there is probably no better illustration of that adage than the cattle empires of the Old West.
Related Websites from The Handbook of Texas Online:
2) Barbed Wire http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/BB/aob1.html
3) Cattle Rustling http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/jbc1.html
4) Fence Cutting http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/FF/auf1.html
5) Ranching http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/RR/azr2.html
6) Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/TT/ant1.html
 
Lincoln County War (1878-79) - Competition Wasn't Welcome by B. Kelly from Southern New Mexico Online
http://www.zianet.com/snm/lincwar.htm
Related Websites:
2) Battles of the Lincoln County War http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/billythekid/battles.html
3) Henry McCarty: The Wild West's 'Billy the Kid' by J. Geringer
http://www.crimelibrary.com/americana/kid/index.htm
4) How the Lincoln County War Started by P. Rasch
http://www.larned.net/rogmyers/lincoln.htm
5) Lincoln County War: New Mexico http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/9755/NMLincolnCountyWar.html
6) Turmoil in New Mexico http://www.cia-g.com/~rockets/dNMhist.turmoil.htm
  
Making It Their Own: Women In the West by C. Lavender at WestWeb
http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/westweb/pages/women.html
Under Texts you will find women's diaries, literary works, critical essays or historical studies. Under Resources, you find biographies of Western women as well teaching and study materials. You will also find a collection of links. Finally, under Images, you find images of Western women's history and direct links to pictures available online.
Related Websites:
Women of the West http://www.over-land.com/westpers2.html
 
Multicultural American West
http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~amerstu/mw/index.html
This site provides links to online resources for study of the multicultural west; includes sections for native peoples and American Indian, African American, Chicano/Latino and borderland, women, and much more.
Related Articles:
2) Chinese Miners in the Far West by R. Rohe
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading5.html
3) Edwin Bryant's View of Hispanic Californians
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading2.html
4) John A. Dix on Expansion and Mexican Lands, 1848
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading4.html
 
Old West Far More Complex than Depicted in Legends
http://lubbockonline.com/news/012697/oldwest.htm
This article summarizes some ways that revisionists have caused historians to change their views of western history.
 
Photographs of the American West 1861-1912 at National Archives and Records Administration
http://www.nara.gov/nara/nn/nns/amwest.html
The transition from a 'wild' western frontier into organized segments of a federal union is documented in photographs.
Similar Websites:
2) Images in the American West at TreasureNet Historical Image Collection
http://www.treasurenet.com/cgi-
bin/treasure/images.pl/Search?search=%2bCategory%3a%22American%20West%22
3) Images of the West http://www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/FRONTIER/Image/index.html
4) Photography Collection at Denver Public Library http://gowest.coalliance.org/
 
Profile of a Cowboy at DesertUSA
http://www.desertusa.com/mag00/dec/papr/cowboys.html
This website provides a good summary of the daily life of a cowboy.
Related Website:
2) Cowboy from State of Oklahoma http://www.otrd.state.ok.us/studentguide/cowboys.html
3) National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum http://www.cowboyhalloffame.org/
 
Central Pacific Railroad; Photographic History Museum
http://cprr.org/Museum/
Congress granted railroads alternate sections of public domain land to encourage railroad construction, and the railroad companies later sold land to increase their profits.
Related Websites:
2) Bill Doolin & Caney, KS Train Robbery http://www.gunslinger.com/caney.html
3) Did Butch Cassidy Plan the Wilcox Train Robbery? by J.O. Miller
http://www.flash.net/~pggreen/WOLA/bcassidy.htm
4) Great Train Robbery Outside Verdi, Nevada, 1870
http://cprr.org/Museum/Robbery.html
4) Trade of Train Robbery by C. Michelson http://www.railroadextra.com/strob.Html
 
So You Think the Cavalry Won The West? by D. Johnson
http://www.wyomingcompanion.com/wchh2.html#infantry
This brief scholar's article corrects some ideas about the army in the West and the importance of the horse soldier.
  
TombstoneArizona.com
http://www.clantongang.com/
This site is dedicated to the Clanton family and the history of Tombstone Arizona. Find more information on the Biographies webpage.
More Tombstone & O.K. Corral Websites:
2) McLaury Brothers http://www.cp1237.com/frankandtom/
3) Profiles of the 'Cowboys' http://www.bignosekate.com/bnkcowboys.htm
4) Tombstone: The Town To Tough To Die
http://www.tombstone.250x5com/index.html
5) Tombstone (and the O.K. Corral) http://users.techline.com/nicks/tomb.htm
6) Shootout at the O.K. Corral from Law Buzz
http://www.lawbuzz.com/famous_trials/wyatt_earp/wyatt_earp_ch1.htm
 
Vigilantes of Montana:1864 Revisited
http://montana-vigilantes.org/revisit/index.html
On December 23, 1863, a group of citizens in Virginia City met secretly to form a Vigilance Committee. They adopted a set of bylaws and 24 individuals signed an oath of allegiance. During January and February of 1864 they executed twenty-one men by hanging, with more to come in the months and years ahead.
Related Websections:
2) "The Petrified West and the Writer" by D. Lavender
http://montana-vigilantes.org/articles/lavender.html
3) Some Afterthoughts on the Vigilantes by J. W. Smurr
http://montana-vigilantes.org/smurrhtm/index.html
4) Was Dimsdale a Vigilante? by R. Mather
http://montana-vigilantes.org/articles/dimsmjr.html
 
Significance of the Frontier in American History
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading1.html
This is the first of a series of readings for a college course in Western History.
Another Article in the Series:
2) Shared Memories of Pioneers by C.A. Milner II
http://www.matsu.alaska.edu/pnsgs/Readings/reading13.html
   
Websites For Teachers
American West Theme Ideas at Lesson Exchange (Grades K-4)
http://teachers.net/lessons/posts/547.html
Here is a collection of activities related to the West.
 
Cowboy Unit
http://jeffconet.jeffco.k12.co.us/passport/lessonplan/lessons/cowboyunit.html
These five lessons help students to understand the roles that cowboys played in the US and Colorado history during the late 1800's. They will develop vocabulary, help students look at cultural assimilation, power, diversity, and economics in Colorado history.
 
Glidden's Patent Application for Barbed Wire from National Archives and Records Administration
http://www.nara.gov/education/teaching/glidden/wire.html
This lesson plan leads students to understand how agriculture, mining, and ranching were transformed by this 'new technology.'
 
Hall of Fame at Education Place
http://www.eduplace.com/ss/act/hall.html
In this multidisciplinary lesson for social studies, language arts, and art, students create a Hall of Fame of the West.
 
Happy Trails: An Introduction to American Cattle Drives
http://www2.educ.ksu.edu/faculty/ParmleyJ/Block%20One%20S97/cowboys.htm
This lesson was developed as an interest approach lesson to a unit encompassing cattle drives. This lesson incorporates agriculture, art, English, family and consumer sciences and history.
 
West: Lesson Plans from PBS
http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/lesson_plans/
Here are resources to study the U. S.'s westward expansion in the Nineteenth Century. This multidisciplinary unit of lessons addresses a variety of subject areas, including history, language arts, fine arts, and science.
 
west
Gold Rush
gunfighter
cattle drive
cowboy
Mormon Trail
Native American
frontier
Fetterman Massacre
stagecoach
Butterfield Route
Pony Express
Lewis & Clark
vigilante
outlaw
railroads
Mountain Meadows Massacre
water
trail
cavalry
Chisholm Trail
horse
brand
railhead
sodbuster
Civil War
homesteader
Buffalo Soldiers
ranch
Oregon trail
mountain men
gallows
Johnson Massacre
cattle baron
Gadsden Purchase
barbed wire
bushwhack
Sand Creek atrocities
chaparral
Battle of the Little Big Horn
Indian Nation
hanging
arbuckeles
Lincoln County War
mustang
jerkwater
chuck wagon
maverick
livestock brand
mining
sheepherding
range war
barbed wire
chuckwagon
 
  
 
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 1/99, Updated 2/02.