Who Are Some of the Most Famous Cowboys in History?


Quick Answer

Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp are some of the most famous cowboys in the history of the United States. Some cowboys became famous because of their frontier skills, while others are legendary because of their skills with a gun.

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Full Answer

Kit Carson was the first famed cowboy, with most of his exploits taking place in the early to middle 1800s. He was well-known as a trapper, a skilled frontiersman and expert army scout. He was a master of Native American language, being fluent in Apache, Arapaho, Shoshone, Cheyenne and Navajo. He could converse easily in Ute, Paiute and Spanish as well. Although he could neither read nor write English, for his deeds Carson was brevetted to the rank of general in the U.S. Army.

After he left home in LeClaire, Iowa in 1846 at the age of 11 to herd cattle, William F. Cody crossed the Great Plains several times as a wagon train driver. He went to the Rocky Mountains and became a fur trapper, and he later joined in on the Colorado Gold Rush. After the Civil War, he became a legendary scout and hunter for the U.S. Army where he earned his nickname Buffalo Bill. As he got older, he owned and operated several wild west shows that toured American and European cities, putting wild west skills on display.

Wyatt Earp is probably most famous for his gunfight with the Clanton brothers at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Long before that event, Earp had earned legendary status for his taming of other cowboys in several cattle drive towns, including Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas. He was also notorious for running the drinking and gambling establishments in the towns he policed.

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