6 Famous Outlaws of the Wild, Wild West


Cherokee Bill

Cherokee Bill
Cherokee Bill, third from left, pictured with his posse. Flickr/British Library

When Crawford Goldsby, better known as Cherokee Bill, was about to swing for his many crimes, these, allegedly, were his final words: "I came here to die, not to talk." That's some hard-bitten, old-school outlaw diction for you. Who knows if it's true, but it seems plausible given the man's general preference for shooting in lieu of dialogue.

He was born in 1876 at Fort Concho in Texas to Ellen Goldsby, a Cherokee woman with European and African-American ancestry, and Sergeant George Goldsby, a Buffalo Soldier of the famous 10th Cavalry. George and Ellen parted ways when Crawford was just 7 and he was sent off to schools for "Indians" in Kansas, and later Pennsylvania. It seems he failed to thrive in either institution.

Some say he killed his brother-in-law when he was 14, some when he was 12. Either way, his career began in earnest when he joined the outlaws Bill and Jim Cook at the age of 18. Then began a season of robbery and murder in Indian Territory that lasted from May through December of 1894 when he was captured. A violent prison break, during which he killed a guard, failed and in April of 1895 he was sentenced to die by the "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker. On St. Patrick's Day of the following year he uttered his famous final words.