Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Winter 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:1 (Winter 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


Robert DeArment, a prolific historian depicting outlaws, gamblers, and lawmen throughout the American West, focuses on individuals associated with the stagecoach network centered in the boomtown of Deadwood, Dakota Territory. This network stretched across the Northern Plains from presentday Bismarck, North Dakota, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and on to Sidney, Nebraska, and in each case was linked to a transcontinental railroad.

DeArment introduces his readers to the Texas Gang, the Hat Creek Gang, the Joel Collins Gang, and the Tom Price Gang, as well as to a wide variety of characters with such colorful nicknames as "Big Nose George" Parrott, "Laughing Sam" Hartman, and Cornelius "Lame Johnny" Donahue. Most of the highwaymen migrated from the Midwest and had previously worked a variety of jobs, including hunting, cowpunching, and railroad construction. Many proved to be inept road agents. For example, a passenger stuffed currency down the bore of an outdated shotgun; teased by the robbers for owning such a worthless weapon, they tossed it away. The next day the passenger returned for his gun and money.