Top 10 Most Iconic People of the American Wild West

The American Wild West was a period of history of the United States which lasted from the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the last few western territories as states in 1912. This era of massive migration and settlement was marked by the men and women who colonized the untamed lands of the American frontier. Many important figures of this time period such as cowboys, lawmen, and outlaws alike have been immortalized in popular culture through movies, songs and folklore. Here is a list ranking which of them are the most iconic.
The Top Ten
1 Doc Holliday

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was born and raised in Georgia. Holliday is best known for his role in the events leading up to and following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral alongside his close friend and associate Wyatt Earp. Before he became a professional gambler and gunslinger out West, he became a dentist who built his career in Atlanta. Having caught tuberculosis from his ailing mother, Holliday decided to move to the Southwest in hopes that the drier climate would ease his symptoms. He died of tuberculosis in 1887 at age 36 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

2 Billy the Kid Billy the Kid was an American Old West outlaw and gunfighter who killed eight men before he was shot and killed at age 21. He took part in New Mexico's Lincoln County War, during which he allegedly took part in three murders.

Arguably the most well known person and notorious gunfighters of the American West, he was born William H. Bonney, Jr. in the slums of New York (some sources also state his original name could have been Henry McCarty). He is reputed to have escaped jail while he was sentenced to hang and to have killed at least 21 men before being gunned down at about age 21 by Sheriff Pat Garrett at Fort Sumner, New Mexico for the murder of two deputies. His story has inspired the making of many movies, comic books and songs.

3 Davy Crockett David "Davy" Crockett was a 19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the Texas Revolution.

Known as the "King of the Wild Frontier", Crockett was a hunter, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is easily recognized by his iconic look with the coonskin cap which is always used to represent him in popular culture. Crockett got involved in Tennessee's local and state politics before representing it as a U.S. Congressman from 1827 through 1833. After barely losing his election to serve out a fourth term, Crockett moved to Texas, which was under Mexico's jurisdiction at the time, in 1835. The following year, he fought for Texas' independence and was killed in the Battle of Alamo.

4 Jesse James Jesse Woodson James was an American outlaw, bank and train robber, guerrilla, and leader of the James–Younger Gang. Raised in the "Little Dixie" area of western Missouri, James and his family maintained strong Southern sympathies.

Jesse James is considered by many to be the most iconic outlaw of the wild west. He was a notorious bank and train robber, along with his brother Frank James, as well as the leader of the James–Younger Gang. The event in his life that is the most remembered however, and the subject of many movies, was his death when he was notoriously shot in the back by Robert Ford.

5 Buffalo Bill

William F. Cody, known in popular culture as Buffalo Bill, started out as a rider for the Pony Express when he was young, then became a bison hunter and later a scout for the army. He is perhaps most well known for creating his touring show Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1883 which displayed cowboy themes and episodes from the frontier and Indian Wars. His company toured all over the US and eventually toured in Europe.

Buffalo Bill is iconic, but he took part in killing buffalo and that fact makes me like him less, I'd even go as far as saying he lost my respect when I read that part of his life.

6 Sitting Bull Sitting Bull, Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotȟake in Standard Lakota Orthography, also nicknamed Húŋkešni or "Slow" (c. 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota holy man who led his people during years of resistance to United States government policies. He was killed by Indian agency police on the... read more

Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota leader who led his people during years of resistance against United States government policies.

7 Calamity Jane

Born Martha Jane Canary in Missouri, Calamity Jane was a frontierswoman, sharpshooter, and raconteur. She was famous for dressing and shooting like a man (and even drinking like one) and her skill at profanity. She told many stories of herself back in the day, some of them real and others imagined which helped create the aura around her.

8 Wyatt Earp

By far the most iconic lawman in the Wild West, Wyatt Earp attained notoriety for taking part in the gunfight at the OK Corral against a gang of outlaws alongside his brothers and Doc Holliday. The events at the OK Corral in Tombstone inspired many films and books. He is also known as a businessman, brothel bouncer and gambler and he also had a few run-ins with the law before deciding to become a lawman.

It's crazy to think that after all the dangerous shootouts he's been involved in that he never was injured.

9 Geronimo Geronimo was a prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe. From 1850 to 1886 Geronimo joined with members of three other Chiricahua Apache bands.

Geronimo was a prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe. While well known, Geronimo was not a chief, however since he was a superb leader in raiding and warfare, he frequently led large numbers of men beyond his own following. He carried out numerous raids with members of three other Chiricahua Apache bands, as well as fight against Mexican and U.S. military campaigns in the northern Mexico states of Chihuahua and Sonora and in the southwestern American territories of New Mexico and Arizona.

10 Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley was an American sharpshooter who is famous for starring in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. As a child, she developed her hunting skills to provide for her impoverished family in western Ohio. At 15, she won a shooting contest against experienced marksman Frank E. Butler, whom she later married.

Oakley was one of the most popular attractions in Buffalo Bill's show, she was an incredible shooter.

The Contenders
11 Sacagawea
12 Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok, born James Butler Hickok, is known today as one of the greatest folk heroes of the Wild West. He was a wagon master, Union spy, lawman, gunslinger and gambler during his life and much like Calamity Jane, became known for his stories (fun fact the two are buried next to each other). His fame really started after a gunfight with David Tutt, which many believe popularized quickdraw duels. Hickok died while playing a poker game in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, when he was shot in the back by Jack McCall. At the time of his death, he was purportedly holding two pairs of black aces and eights, now known as the dead man's hand in poker.

13 Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people.

14 Butch Cassidy

Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, was an American train and bank robber and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the "Wild Bunch" alongside his accomplice Harry Alonzo Longabaugh (aka the Sundance Kid) both of which became the subject of movies and books. It is believed that Butch and the Sundance Kid both died in 1908 in a shootout with police officers in Bolivia.

15 Pat Garrett

Patrick Garrett was an American lawman who is famous for killing Billy the Kid.

16 Johnny Ringo
17 Standing Bear
18 Kit Carson
19 Red Cloud
20 Texas Jack Omohundro
21 Bat Masterson
22 Seth Bullock
23 P. T. Barnum
24 John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin was an American Old West outlaw and gunfighter. Hardin often got into trouble with the law from an early age. He killed his first man at the age of 15, claiming he did so in self-defense.

25 Sundance Kid

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in the American Old West. Though many believe him and Butch Cassidy to have been best friends (mostly due to the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", the two weren't that close. They met after Cassidy came out of jail in 1896.

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