Cowboy accessories surrounding a wanted poster.
Cowboy accessories surrounding a wanted poster.

The Old West had its share of villains, outlaws and other unsavory characters. You've probably heard of the better-known characters, such as like Jesse James, made famous on various TV shows and in movies. Some outlaws had strange names, perfect for those Western party "wanted" posters.

Real Outlaws

"Hoodoo Brown" is an alias for Hyman G. Neill, one-time lawyer and buffalo hunter who ended up leading the notorious Dodge City Gang. A self-imposed police force based in Las Vegas, the gang included "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh, another "wanted" poster contender. "Big Nose George" was an alias for George Parrott. When George was hung and his skin made into shoes, he became "Big Shoe George." Another outlaw, "Gunplay Maxwell," born James Otis Bliss, was a cattle and horse rustler who spent jail time with Butch Cassidy.

Imaginary Outlaws

Making up names for your outlaw posters is fun. Pick a facial or personality aspect to focus on and let your imagination wander. For example, if you think of a face with an eye-patch, you might come up with "Dead Eye Dick" or "Patch McCoy." Mustaches are also strong visual cues that might inspire names such as "Hairy Lipped Malone" or "One Lip Lawson." Women were usually smart enough to stay off of "wanted" posters, but to cater to the ladies, try "Diamond Lil" or "Homewrecker Hannah." Both are suitable names for saloon gals from the era.