Here are some fascinating bit of triva from the Legends of America Webiste. It's full of marvelous titbits. characters and stories. I defy you writers not to dig up a bunny or two here! http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-facts.html
Here are some facts I have gleaned for you:
The term "red light district" came from the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City, Kansas. The front door of the building was made of red glass and produced a red glow to the outside world when lit at night. The name carried over to refer to the town's brothel district.
Buffalo bones covered the plains after the buffalo hunts of 1870- 1883. They were bought by Eastern firms for the production of fertilizer and bone china. "Bone pickers” earned eight dollars a ton for the bones.
On September 8, 1883, Sitting Bull, the main chief of the Lakota tribes, delivered a speech at the celebration of the driving of the last spike in the Northern Pacific railroad joining with the transcontinental system. He delivered the speech in his Sioux language, departing from a speech originally prepared by an army translator. Denouncing the U.S. government, settlers, and army, the listeners thought he was welcoming and praising them. While giving the speech, Sitting Bull paused for applause periodically, bowed, smiled, and continued insulting his audience as the translator delivered the original address.
Jesse James' nickname to his friends was 'Dingus.'
There were many names for a gunslinger. Here are just a few: "leather slapper,” a "gun fanner,” "gun trapper," "bad medicine,” "curly wolf,” and a "shootist.”
About 1/3 of all gunmen died of "natural causes," living a normal life span of 70 years or so. Of those who did die violently (shot or executed), the average age of death was 35. The gunfighters-turned-lawmen lived longer lives than their persistently criminal counterparts.
A few nicknames for whiskey were: "bottled courage," "bug juice," "coffin varnish," "dynamite," "fire water," "gut warmer," "joy juice," "neck oil," "nose paint," "redeye," "scamper juice," "snake pizen," "tarantula juice," "tonsil varnish," "tornado juice," "wild mare's milk." Scots or Irish were likely to call it "uisge beatha" - literally the water of life. This would be pronounced "ooshka va."
The first indoor toilet installed in the White House was when John Quincy Adams became president in 1825. Causing some debate and many jokes, it gave rise to the slang term of "Quincy" for an indoor toilet.
In 1881 Helen Hunt Jackson published A Century of Dishonor, the first detailed examination of the federal government’s treatment of Native Americans in the West. Her findings shocked the nation with proof that empty promises, broken treaties and brutality helped pave the way for white pioneers.
Female bandit, Pearl Hart, was the last person to rob a stagecoach in the Old West in 1899
Outlaws, who were afraid of little else, were curiously superstitious about one thing - dying with their boots on. They dying request of countless outlaws was to remove their boots before they died. If this request was denied, many pleaded with authorities not to forward the news to their mothers that they had died with their boots on.
On the cattle drives, when the chuck wagon cook was finished with his work for the day and before hitting the sack, he would always place the tongue of the chuck wagon facing north. When the trail master started in the morning he would look at the tongue and then know what direction he would be moving the herd.
The term "gang" wasn't utilized by Americans to mean a group of criminals until sometime around 1870. The word was first used in America to mean a herd of animals in the 1650's, then by 1823, it was applied to a pack of dishonest politicians.
Outlaw "Big Nose" George Parrot, the leader of a gang of rustlers in Wyoming, was lynched in Rawlins, Montana on 1881. Afterwards, his body was given to Dr. John E. Osborne, who partially skinned the corpse and made a pair of shoes from his inner thigh, a medicine bag out of his chest, and an ashtray out of the top of his skull. The doctor wore the shoes for his inauguration as governor of Wyoming in 1893. In the 1950's, his remains were found in a whiskey barrel where the doctor's office used to stand. The thigh-skin shoes and the skull ashtray are on display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins.
Louisa Ann Swain, a seventy-year-old woman, became the first woman in America to vote in a public election at Laramie, Wyoming on September 6, 1870.
Annie Oakley, who’s real name was Phoebe Anne Mozee, never lived farther west than Ohio.
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