The Real Wild West: A Photographic Exploration of its Untold Stories

May 10, 2024

The mugshot of Goldie Williams after her arrest for vagrancy in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898

History books tell us a simple story about the old west. There are tales of cowboys, Native Americans, and law west of the Pecos... but it's not the whole story. These beautifully colorized photos tell the real story about the wild west.

These snapshots of gunslingers, lawmen, and '49ers on the search for gold will show you what the history books never could. Look closer... in each photo you'll find an entire life story full of ups and downs.

Each rare, colorized photo collected here has the ability to transport you back to one of the most beloved eras of America... when the west was still being won. Keep searching and discover the true story of the old west.

source: history nebraska

This may be the greatest mugshot ever taken. On January 29, 1898, the five foot tall and 110 pound Goldie Williams (aka Meg Murphy) was busted for "vagrancy" while in Omaha, Nebraska and she's more than willing to give the police a piece of her mind. It's not clear what "vagrancy" actually means but it looks like she'd been arrested before.

Take note of Goldie's feather hat and gorgeous overcoat, was she actually a vagrant or was she up to something else. Her arrest records sat that her left index finger was broken and she had a cut below her right wrist. Whatever happened that night, she wasn't happy about it.

Wild Bill Hickok before he was caught with a "deadman's hand"

source: wikimedia commons

The world knows him as "Wild Bill" Hickok, but he was born James Butler Hickok in 1837. In his short life (he didn't live to see 40-years-old) he was everything from an entertainer, to an infantryman, and a gunslinger - although he was known to add a little spice to his personal history from time to time. However, the strangest thing about Wild Bill is that most of his stories were true.

Wild Bill was shot during a game of poker in Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. At his time of death he was holding two pairs: aces and eights, all black. That hand soon became known as the "dead man's hand."