The Wild West has long fascinated many Americans. (I don't know if anyone on here has noticed, but I it interests and fascinates me a lot too) :) It has been the scene for many a movie. The setting for many a dime novel, novel, or Western movie that thrilled audiences both fifty + years ago and now. For some it's the wide open country side and the beauty of the sky or the mountain or the vistas and bluffs that the characters find themselves traveling on. For others it's the intrigue, the suspense, and the knowledge that the "good guy" will win, it's only a question of "How?". For others it's the bravery, the sacrifice, and the courage of the "good guy" or the good heart behind the cold exterior of the outlaw that's going to eventually surface and save the day. For some it's all of those combined. And yet there are still many, many other reasons why people enjoy Westerns, and the Wild West, and the whole idea of it all in general.
And, of course, when there is something that the public deeply enjoys, lots of times there are coins made for it (ex. the Winnie the Pooh coins). There is a set of 23 JFK half dollars, the obverse of each featuring a beautiful, colorized image of a famous outlaw of the West. (Colorizing coins involves a unique application of special inks directly to the surface of a coin using a unique and painstaking process, that achieves a level of detail, color saturation, and durability that is #1 in the industry) I'm going to touch briefly on each coin, and the outlaw it features (more famous, "popular" outlaws may have longer sections) throughout a series of blog posts. I do apologize ahead of time if they are a little spaced apart, since school is my top priority. :)I'm going to start with the first coin in the picture (since I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get photos to load onto here, here is the order that the coins are in in the photo: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Belle Starr, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Ben Thompson, Wyatt Earp, The Apache Kid, Butch Cassidy, Pearl Hart, John Wesley Hardin, Clay Allison, Jim "Killer" Miller, Geronimo, Fred Waite, Jesse James, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, Bonnie and Clyde, Wild Bill Hickok, Tom Horn, Stagecoach Mary, and last but not least, The Sundance Kid. That was a lot of typing :), and I'm sure y'all recognize a lot of those names.) which is the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a very famous shootout, and it is very often in Western movies. (My Darling Clementine and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral ((what an original name!)) being a few) The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in Wild West history. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a 30-second shootout between members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys, and the lawmen of Tombstone that took place at around 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. The gunfight was the result of a long feud between the outlaw and the lawmen, with the Cowboys (Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, Wes Fuller, and Tom and Frank McLaury) against the Town Marshal Virgil Earp, Special Policeman Morgan Earp, Special Policeman Wyatt Earp (cough, cough), and temporary policeman Doc Holliday (again, cough, cough). Both McLaury brothers were killed, and so was Billy Clanton. Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, and Wes Fuller ran from the fight. Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday were wounded, but Wyatt Earp was unharmed. Wyatt is often (wrongly) thought of as the central figure in the shootout. But in reality, it was his brother Virgil, since Virgil was Tombstone's city marshal and the deputy U.S. marshal that day, plus he had a lot more experience as a sheriff, constable, marshal, and soldier in combat.
Next is Belle Starr. Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr was better known as Belle Starr, and she was one of the most notorious female outlaws there was. She was a part of the James-Younger Gang, the most well-known members of which are Jesse James and his brother Frank James. She also has been the subject of several Western Movies, although none of them have managed to portray her as she really was, instead they romanticize her quite a bit. She started out as a well-raised lady (although her father was considered the black sheep of the town), with a classical education and skill at the piano. She fell in with the James boys and the Younger brothers when her family moved to escape the Civil War, although she had grown up with the boys in Missouri. It was her first husband, Jim Reed, that started her on the road to crime. She always had a strong sense of style, which fed into her later legend. She was quite a crack shot, and she used to ride sidesaddle while dressed in a black velvet riding habit and a plumed hat, carrying two pistols, with cartridge belts slung across her hips. After Jim Reed was killed, she married a Cherokee man named Sam Starr and settled in with the Starr family (notorious for their dealings in whiskey, and their cattle and horse thievery) in the Indian Territory. It was there that she learned the ways of organizing, planning and fencing for the rustlers, bootleggers, and horse thieves, as well as how to harbor them all from the law. It was here that her life of crime truly began. Her illegal enterprises proved to be enough for her to bribe officials to free her cohorts and family from the law whenever they were caught. In 1883, both she and her husband, Sam, were arrested, charged with horse theft, and tried before "The Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They were both found guilty, and she served nine months in prison. She proved to be a model prisoner and earned the respect of the prison matron while in jail. (Sam, however, was not a model prisoner, and was assigned to hard labor) In 1886, she managed to dodge conviction on another theft charge, but Sam was killed on December 17, 1886, in a gunfight with Officer Frank West, ending Belle's life as an outlaw queen. She was killed on February 3, 1889, two days before her forty-first birthday.
Amazon.com (for photos of the 23 coins all together)
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wikipedia
Hollywoods Greatest Westerns, by Ted Sennett (for more info on the gunfight, and for info on the movies for the two coin subjects)
Belle Starr, Wikipedia