The western side of the United States was not called wild in the past for no reason. It used to be known for its cowboys, lawlessness, and the untamed and unruly nature of the territories during the country’s frontier period. The Wild West period lasted from 1865 until 1895. Soon, films that romanticized daring robbers and killers began sprouting, with the crimes being overlooked due to the extraordinary, rebellious spirit that these characters portrayed. The reality, of course, was much more different. The 19th-century outlaws were far from admired for their boldness, and their violent crimes were frowned upon.

Here are three well-known outlaws:

Jesse James

Jesse James
Jesse James outlaw reward poster. (Pinkerton’s Detective Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

James was born in Clay County, Missouri, on September 1847 to a family of avid Confederacy supporters and slave owners, having seven in total. As a teenager, James and his brother Frank became part of a guerrilla group behind the murder of many Union soldiers.

One of the instances was on September 27, 1864, when some 80 men raided Centralia, Missouri. The guerrillas, which James was part of, terrorized the town and slaughtered the unarmed Union troops in what is now called the Centralia Massacre. A few hours later, they went on killing and mutilating around a hundred soldiers from the 39th Missouri Infantry, US Volunteers, with James credited for the death of Major Andrew “Ave” Johnston, a Union commander.