Old Western Wanted Poster

History of Wanted Posters
The definitive answer to what was the first wanted poster; no one knows – it’s lost in history. However the first “purported” wanted poster in America was one for the Apprehension of President Lincoln’s murderer; John Wilkes Booth. Issued in 1865 it was quickly distributed and within a week troops had killed Boothe while trying to capture him.

Wanted posters were used in merry olde England to help identify “Outlaws”. The origin of this word is quite fascinating. It comes from old English and was used to denote a person who was “outside the Law” – which in medieval times meant a person who was not protected by the law of the land, and could be killed by any citizen and the reward collected.

Wanted Posters have always served an important need – that of making the citizenry aware of criminals or “outlaws” in the immediate area. They are most often displayed at Police Stations or Post Offices. In today’s world there are thousands of wanted posters posted on the Internet.

The Wild Bunch

Old Western Wanted Poster

The Wild Bunch, led by Butch Cassidy was a handful for the peace officers and Marshals of the west.

We were passing the place (picture studio) and thought it would be a good joke to have our pictures taken.

So said Butch Cassidy about what became, arguably, the most famous of old western wanted posters.

There’s two very interesting aspects of this picture that set Butch and Sundance apart from the other three members of the Wild Bunch.

These two style characteristics just reinforce the close bond between Butch and Sundance. Pards to the end. . .can you spot the two differences? Read below to find the answer.


Butch’s old west hideout – Hole in the Wall

Hole in the wall

Hole in the wall

Hole in the Wall is located in Wyoming, and is one of those mythical wild west locals, like Tombstone, Dodge City, and Deadwood that are inseparable with the Old West.

Hole in the Wall’s fame as an old west hideout began with Jesse James, and continued for decades with Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch using it on many occasions in the late 1890s.Immortalized by the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, today Hole in the Wall can be toured by horseback with riding tours from a private ranch.

The Wild BunchDid you spot the two style differences, that set Butch and Sundance apart in their famous picture? Click the image at right for a larger image and you will see that Butch and Sundance are both wearing single breasted vests, and their watch fobs are strung in the same manner. The other three are wearing double-breasted vests and their watches are strung in a totally different manner.


The Sundance Kid gets his nickname

When Harry Longabaugh was a mere 17 years of age or so he got caught stealing a horse in and around his home town of Sundance, Wyoming. Hell, Harry was so well liked around those parts that not only was he not hanged, when he was released after 30 days in jail Harry had a new moniker: The Sundance Kid.

The Sundance Kid in Calgary

500_sundance_eta_337The legendary member of the Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy’s lieutenant, spent the better part of 3 years in the Canadian Old West, in and around Calgary, Alberta. 1891 Calgary Police records show that a Harry Longabaugh was charged with cruelty to animals by a rival in the Blackie area. At this time Harry was working as a wrangler at the Bar U Ranch (currently a national historic site), about 50 miles south of Calgary.

After spending more than a year as a cow hand, the Kid decided it wasn’t for him and with Frank Hamilton as a partner opened a saloon in the Grand Central Hotel in Calgary, then part of the Northwest Territories of Canada. (Today it is the province of Alberta.)

Frank Hamilton had a reputation as a bully, and in business he was a man who liked to intimidate his partners or rivals to get his way. He tried that with Harry and promptly had a six-shooter shoved in his ribs, followed by a few choice words. Sundance grew tired of Hamilton’s act, and sold his part of the business a time later and took to saddle and pointed his horse south to the American border.

From Calgary the Kid rode through Montana and on to Wyoming where he hooked back up with Butch Cassidy and together with other members of the Wild Bunch went busily about their outlaw business.

Oddly enough just a year or so after Sundance left Calgary the Grand Central Hotel, and its saloon, burned to the ground. Coincidence? Perhaps. . .or perhaps the Kid never forgot Hamilton’s behaviour and snuck back to even the score.

A Little Bit About Etta …

It’s unlikely there’s a more shadowy figure in the Old West, than Etta Place. There is no doubt that this was not her real name, as Place was the Maiden name of Harry’s (the Sundance Kid) mother, and other women that were associated with the Wild Bunch used the alias also.

Virtually nothing is known of her other than the fact she was reputed to be a school teacher, but there’s some that say she was a Texas prostitute that Butch Cassidy took under his wing and gave a fake history as a school Marm, so she could have a new start. A stunning, timeless, beauty – she was seldom seen without the Sundance Kid, and they often traveled together as man and wife.

Wild Bunch Poster | Sundance and Etta Poster

Jesse James

Old West Poster of Jesse James

Jesse James Poster

Called Dingus by his pals, Jesse James, was a cold-blooded killer who was left over from the viciousness of the American Civil War. Lifelong he was hunted like a wild animal, and justified his crimes by saying, “they drove us to it. . . .

The Killing {Assassination?} of Jesse James
The James-Younger Gang seldom strayed far from Missouri – except to do their robberies; confident their friends and family would hide them out.

Once the reward got to 25,000 for Jesse it was just a matter of time before the dirty little coward (Bob Ford), would kill Mister Howard (Jesse James), as he stood on a chair to straighten a picture, in his own home.

As word spread of Jesse’s death – Bob and his brother Charlie raced to the telegraph office and cabled Governor Crittenden: “I have killed Jesse James. St. Joseph. Bob Ford“.

Jesse’s two murdering cousins rushed back to the James House, now swamped with curious onlookers. Spotting the local authorities, the brothers rushed up and staked their claim to the infamous deed.

I’m Bob Ford,” gasped Bob, “ I shot him“.

I’m Charlie Ford,” gushed his brother, “I saw him“.

Black Bart Outlaw Poster

Black Bart Outlaw Poster

Black Bart

The Outlaw Poet

Bart’s first stagecoach robbery was reported in August of 1877, and his method was simple.

He’d wait for the stagecoach around a tight corner, with flour sack over his face (with two holes cut/ripped for the eyes) derby on his head, and shotgun in his arms, wearing a long, linen duster.

He’d exchange the contents of the strong box for a copy of some poetry and always signed it, Black Bart, PO-8.

Bart was eventually caught – did his time – then disappeared into the pages of old west lore. Black Bart – Outlaw


Here I lay me down to sleep
To wait the comming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat
An everlasting sorrow,
Yet come what may, I’ll try it once
My condition can’t be worse,
And if there’s money in that box,
‘Tis munney in my purse
– Black Bart, PO-8


Young Guns Circa 1870

Young Guns Circa 1870 Poster

Charley Utter, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Elisha Green.

The photo that this poster was built around was originally taken in the early 1870s. At the time these men were performing in Ned Butlines “Scouts of the Prairie“.

As bad as most of the acting was – Hickok’s stood out as the worst. The whole idea of acting was disagreeable to Wild Bill and he left after only six months. Hickok’s disdain can be seen on his face in this poster, and notice how carefully the other men have their firearms staged around them – except Wild Bill: He’s stood his long arm upside down!

Custer and the 7th Cavalry

Custer and the 7th Cavalry Poster

Custer and the officers of the 7th Cavalry Poster

On June 25, 1876 George Custers’ headstrong, break neck attack methods sealed his fate, and that of his command against the 2000 or more Sioux and Cheyenne at the Little Big Horn or Greasy Grass River.

~ Custer and the men of the Seventh rode out to meet their fate and the Sioux Nation, on June 25, 1876 at the Little Big Horn River ~