The Wild West
The Wild West refers to the period from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to around 1900.
It tells the stories of the pioneers, the settlers, the cattle kings, gold mining, railroads and steamboats, the cowboys, Indians, outlaws and gun slingers.
Famous characters of the Wild West include Whyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane and Belle Starr.
After the first European settlers arrived in America, many move westward seeking a new life and the promise of prosperity.
The West offered land, good soil for farming and new opportunities to get rich that could not be done in the East.
The Two-Fisted Town Tamer
Thomas James Smith, also known as “Bear River Smith” (12 June 1830 – 2 November 1870), was a lawman in the American Wild West and a marshal of cattle town, Abilene, Kansas.
Smith was a quiet-spoken lawman with a rugged reputation who came from New York City, where he worked as a police officer.
While working as a police officer in New York City in 1868, Smith was involved in the accidental killing of a fourteen-year-old boy, after which he resigned.
He also served as a lawman in small towns in Wyoming, Bear River and in Kit Carson, Colorado.
Marshal of Abilene
Abilene, Kansas, was a wild cattle town with numerous saloons, brothels and lawlessness.
From 1867, crime had increased to the point where murder and shootings were a regular occurrence.
Tom Smith was commissioned as Deputy US Marshal to bring law and order to Abilene in 1869 and insisted that he could enforce the law by using his fists rather than using guns.
Soon after taking office, Smith overpowered both, “Big Hank” Hawkins and “Wyoming Frank” and banished them from Abilene, after beating them both at the same time using only his bare hands.
Smith also introduced a “no guns in the town limits” law which was extremely unpopular.
Over the next two months, Smith survived two assassination attempts.
His tough reputation and several arrests of law-breakers led him to become widely respected and admired by the citizens of Abilene.
On the 2nd of November, 1870, Smith and a temporary deputy went to serve a warrant to Andrew McConnell and Moses Miles about the murder of another Abilene citizen.