Outlaws, Vigilantes and the Law

The juvenile nature of many early western settlements meant that strict infrastructures of governance had yet to be established and justice was often administered by unappointed locals. As such, gunfights, cattle rustling, horse stealing and other incidents of Western fiction (see The Imagined West) were a part of reality. The documents in the Graff Collection hold accounts of famous outlaws and crimes, as well as attempts to impose order from vigilance committees and politicians.

$1000 Reward!! The above reward will be paid by me for the conviction and summary punishment of the party or parties who, on the night of the 13th of March, 1867, stole two private horses and one government mule from the stable, near the post hospital, at Fort Union, N. M. 1867 Broadside New Mexico
$150 reward. Whereas a robbery was committed in the vicinity of the town of Fort Madison, on the 22d Inst…. 1840 Broadside Iowa
Account statement: of Matthew Kerr, St. Louis 05 May 1812 Ephemera Missouri
An address to the people of the United States, and of Kansas Territory, by the Free State Topeka Convention, held March 10, 1857 1857 Pamphlet Kansas; Missouri
The affadavit of Julian Depestre of lawfull [sic] age... 1807 Financial Record; Correspondence Virginia
[Agreement between Cowles Meade, Acting Governor of Mississippi Territory and Aaron Burr] 1807 Correspondence
An Arizona ranger, story of the south-western solitude 1906 Rare Book Arizona; Mexico
[Autograph letter signed, addressed to Daniel Colgar] 1812 Correspondence
[Autograph letter unsigned, largely in cypher, addressed to James Wilkinson] 1806 Correspondence
[Autograph letter unsigned, largely in cypher, addressed to James Wilkinson] 1806 Correspondence
The banditti of the plains; or, The cattlemen’s invasion of Wyoming in 1892 (The crowning infamy of the ages.) 1894 Rare Book Wyoming
The banditti of the prairies, or, The murderer’s doom!!: a tale of the Mississippi Valley 1850 Rare Book Mississippi; Illinois
[Bill of sale executed by John Minor, acting as an attorney for Stephen Minor, transferring a slave named Ceazar from Stephen Minor to Philip Nolan for the sum of six hundred dollars] 1800 Pamphlet Mississippi
Billy LeRoy, the Colorado bandit; or, The king of American highwaymen. A complete and authentic history of this famous young desperado, his crimes and adventures. 1883 Periodical Colorado; New Mexico
The border outlaws. An authentic and thrilling history of the most noted bandits of ancient or modern times… 1881 Rare Book Missouri
Brutus guards 22d company V. C. 1856 Object; Broadside California
Buffalo Bill from Prairie to Palace 1893 Rare Book Iowa; Colorado
A catalogue of the Everett D. Graff collection of Western Americana. Compiled by Colton Storm 1968 Rare Book
Charter and By-laws of the Icarian Community 1857 Pamphlet Illinois
Chicago Post, Extra 09 Oct 1871 Periodical Illinois
Circular to Indian Agents and others. State Department of the Territory of Cal. Monterey, September, 6th 1847 1847 Broadside California
[A collection of miscellaneous general orders and circulars, September 22, 1856 to October 20, 1861. 1856-1861] 1856-1861 Rare Book; Correspondence California; Texas
Constitution and by-laws of the Grand Order of the Anti-Horse Thief Society of Missouri 1875 Pamphlet Missouri
Constitution and by-laws of the Retail Hardware, Implement, and Vehicle Dealers Association, of the Indian Territory 1900 Broadside Oklahoma
Constitution of the Grand and Subordinate Orders of the A. H. T. A. of Missouri. Revised 1887. 1887 Pamphlet Missouri
Constitution of the State of California 1849 Pamphlet California
The desperadoes of the South-West: containing an account of the Cane Hill murders, together with the lives of several of the most notorious regulators and moderators of that region. By Charles Summerfield [pseud.] 1847 Pamphlet Arkansas
[Documents submitted by Milton Swally to Thomas A. Hendricks, Commissioner of the General Land Office, relating to a lawsuit against C.W. Pierce, mail contractor, and Samuel Cox, his agent, the case being tried, and decided upon conditionally, in the Land Office on 29 December 1857] 1858 Broadside Nebraska
El Ecsmo. Sr. presidente de los Estados unidos Mexicanos se ha servido dirigirme el decreto que sigue. El presidente de los Estados unidos mexicanos á los habitantes de la República, sabed: que el congreso general ha decretado lo siguiente. 1o. Se adopta el sistéma de compañias presidiales para la defensa de los Estados internos de Oriente, Occidente, y Territorio de Nuevo-México 1826 Pamphlet Mexico
General Orders, no. 77. [of H. Clay Wood, Assistant Adjutant General] 1870 Pamphlet Texas; Louisiana
The guerrillas of the West, or the life, character and daring exploits of the Younger brothers… 1876 Rare Book Missouri
Hancock County Democrat - Extra. May 16, 1868 1868 Broadside Washington
Hard knocks: a life story of the vanishing west 1915 Rare Book The Dakotas; Kansas; Wyoming
Head quarters, Dept. of New Mexico, Fort Craig, N.M., March 13, 1862. General orders no. 18. 13 Mar 1862 Broadside New Mexico
Head quarters, Dept. of New Mexico, Santa Fe, N.M., Nov. 28, 1862. General orders no.99. 28 Nov 1862 Broadside New Mexico; Arkansas
Head quarters, East sub-dist. of the plains. Fort Kearney, N.T., June 5th, 1865. General orders, no. 12 1865 Broadside Nebraska
Headquarters Department of the Missouri, St. Louis, Mo., January 8th, 1865. General orders, no.7. 08 Jan 1865 Broadside Missouri
Headquarters east sub-district of Nebraska. Office of Assistant Adjutant General. Fort Kearney, N.T., Nov. 13th, 1865. Circular no.3. 13 Nov 1865 Broadside Nebraska
Headquarters, Department of New Mexico, Fort Union, N.M., July 23, 1863. General orders no.19. 23 Jul 1863 Broadside New Mexico
Headquarters, Dept. of New Mexico. Santa Fe, N.M., June 15th 1863. General orders no.15. 15 Jun 1863 Broadside New Mexico; Arizona
Heroes of the plains, or, lives and wonderful adventures of Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill... and other celebrated Indian fighters... including a true and thrilling history of Gen. Custer’s famous "last fight" 1881 Rare Book
Illustrated lives and adventures of Frank and Jesse James and the Younger brothers, the noted western outlaws 1882 Rare Book California; Missouri; Kansas; Kentucky; Minnesota; Nevada; Iowa; Texas; Virginia; Mexico
Jesse James, my father. Written by Jesse James, Jr. The first and only true story of his adventures ever written. 1899 Rare Book; Pamphlet Missouri; Kansas
Judge G. C. R. Mitchell. Memoirs and memorials... 1915 Rare Book Iowa
Judges and criminals: shadows of the past. History of the vigilance committee of San Francisco, Cal. with the names of its officers 1858 Rare Book California
Laws of the Cherokee Nation... 1852 Rare Book
Letter: [Iowa City, Iowa?], to "Dear Sir" c.1905 Correspondence; Photograph
Letter: City of Washington, to Gov. Wm. P. Duvall, Tallahassee, Florida c.1829 Correspondence Louisiana
Letters: to General James Wilkinson, 1805-1807 1805-1807 Correspondence Louisiana
Life and adventures of Calamity Jane 1896 Pamphlet Montana; Utah; Wyoming; Arizona; The Dakotas
Life of the Marlows as related by themselves 1892 Rare Book Colorado; Texas
Life of Pat F. Garrett and the taming of the border outlaw: a history of the "gun men" and outlaws, and a life-story of the greatest sheriff of the Old Southwest 1908 Pamphlet New Mexico
The life, times, and treacherous death of Jesse James 1882 Rare Book Texas; Missouri; Nebraska; New York; Kentucky; California; Minnesota; Kansas
A los caciques gobernadorcillos y otras autoridades de los pueblos de Indios del Territorio de N. Mejico 1850 Broadside New Mexico
A los Indios de Pueblo de Nuevo Mejico 1850 Broadside New Mexico
Midnight and noonday; or, Dark deeds unraveled, giving twenty years experience on the frontier...and incidents happening in and around Caldwell, Kansas, from 1871 until 1890 1890 Rare Book Kansas
Militia general orders head quarters New-Orleans, December 25th, 1813… 1813 Broadside Louisiana
Mormonism unveiled; or, The life and confessions of the late Mormon bishop, John D. Lee; (written by himself) embracing the history of Mormonism...with an exposition of the secret history, signs, symbols and crimes of the Mormon church. Also the true history of the horrible butchery known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre 1877 Rare Book Utah; Missouri; Tennessee
Notes from a cowboy’s diary 1925 Pamphlet; Diary Colorado
Notice! To all, whom it may concern… 1865 Broadside; Poster Montana
Now completed and for sale! An impartial and correct history of the vigilantes of Montana Territory! 1866 Broadside Montana
Oklahoma outlaws; a graphic history of the early days in Oklahoma; the bandits who terrorized the first settlers and the marshals who fought them to extinction 1915 Pamphlet Oklahoma; Kansas; Texas; Missouri
Omaha daily Nebraskian. v.2, no. 229; September 2, 1863 1863 Periodical Nebraska
Ordinances between 1770 May 30 and 1775 April 15 [manuscript] 1775 May 4 30 May 1770 - 15 Apr 1775 Ephemera; Correspondence Louisiana; Illinois; Missouri
[Original badge of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association] Object Colorado
Outline descriptions of military posts in the military division of the Pacific / Irvin McDowell, commanding 1879 Rare Book Arizona; California; Idaho; Nevada; Oregon; Washington
Outskirt episodes. The wild and woolly west of early days was a land of crime in many ways... 1927 Rare Book Wyoming
[Photograph of Abraham Lincoln] 1859 Photograph Illinois
A practical guide for justices of the peace and constables: containing a comprehensive collection of judicial and miscellaneous forms, adapted to the laws of the State of Iowa 1854 Pamphlet Iowa
[Printed and manuscript legal form summoning John Howe to answer the complaint of M. Brown] 1864 Correspondence Idaho
The private journal of Aaron Burr 1903 Rare Book; Journal; Diary Ohio
The private journal of Aaron Burr, reprinted in full from the original manuscript in the library of Mr. William K. Bixby of St. Louis, Mo., with an introduction, explanatory notes, and a glossary... 1903 Journal; Diary; Rare Book
Proclamacion 1850 Broadside New Mexico
Proclamation by the mayor...Dated, April 18, 1906 1906 Broadside; Ephemera California
Proclamation to the people of California. Congress having failed at its recent session to provide a new government for this country 1849 Broadside California
Proclamation! 1871 Broadside; Ephemera Illinois
Proclamation! 1871 Broadside; Ephemera Illinois
Promissory note: Dist. Saint Charles [Illinois], to P.K. Robbins 20 Jan 1812 Ephemera Louisiana
The reign of terror in Kanzas: as encouraged by President Pierce, and carried out by the southern slave power... 1856 Pamphlet Kansas
Report under the resolution of the House of Representatives, dated June 25, 1879, relative to certain information connected with his [i.e. Brigadier General Ord’s] department, and the security and protection of the Texas frontier 1879 Pamphlet Texas; Mexico
Speech of the Hon. Abram Lincoln, in reply to Judge Douglas, delivered in Representatives' Hall, Springfield 26 Jun 1857 Broadside Utah; Kansas; Illinois
Spoliations committed by Indians on property of Benjamin Holladay whilst carrying the United States mails… 1872 Pamphlet Nebraska; Colorado
The story of Cole Younger, by himself 1903 Rare Book Kansas; Missouri; Minnesota
[Summons issued by John Blackstone on the complaint of Cornelius C. Van Horn against Jediah Woolley and Henry Watkins] 1831 Ephemera Illinois
Ten thousand miles of travel, sport and adventure 1869 Rare Book
Thirty years on the frontier 1906 Rare Book Colorado; The Dakotas; Oklahoma; California; Texas
This pamphlet is true!! It is a history of the manner in which Nebraska became a state, elected its state officers and first U.S. senators, and entered the American Union. It is authenticated by twenty-one members of the First State Legislature, who signed it at the session of 1866, July. It was not written by C. H. Gere. And it is entirely dissimilar from his narrative of the events herein recorded. 1886 Pamphlet Nebraska
Times Extra. Hamburg, Iowa. The Wilkerson Tragedy... 13 Dec 1869 Periodical Iowa
To his Excellency the Governor of the State of Louisiana and Commander in Chief of militia… 1814 Broadside Louisiana
To the people of Colorado. Synopsis of the Sand Creek Investigation. Denver, Colorado, June 1865 1865 Broadside Colorado
A true account of the capture of Frank Rande: "the noted outlaw" 1897 Rare Book Illinois; Iowa; Missouri
The true life of Billy the Kid c.1945 Pamphlet New Mexico
The true life of Billy the Kid 1881 Pamphlet New Mexico; Arizona
Twelve years in the saddle for law and order on the frontiers of Texas 1909 Rare Book Texas
The U. States vs. Aaron Burr: recognizance for appearance in Ohio 1807 Broadside Virginia; Mexico
Under the black flag, by Captain Kit Dalton, a Confederate soldier, a guerrilla captain under the fearless leader Quantrell, and a border outlaw for seventeen years following the surrender of the Confederacy 1914 Rare Book Kentucky; Missouri; Tennessee; Kansas; Texas
The vigilantes of Montana, or, Popular justice in the Rocky Mountains... 1866 Rare Book Montana; Nevada
[Vigilantes of Wyoming. Photography of the hanging of Con Weiger, Asa Moore, and Big Ed Barnard by vigilantes in Laramie, Wyoming] Oct 1868 Photograph Wyoming
Warsaw signal Vol. 2, No. 20 16 Jul 1845 Periodical Illinois
Warsaw signal. Extra. Sept. 30, 1845 1845 Broadside Illinois
The Whig battering-ram, or, Straightout revived 1844 Periodical Ohio