Old West pioneers Honorific Titles true west magazine

How did Old West pioneers acquire honorific titles?

Daniel Scuiry
Berkeley, California

An honorific is defined as a title that conveys esteem or respect for position or rank when addressing a person.

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was called “Colonel,” even though he never reached such a rank and was a civilian scout. Military officers were addressed by the highest rank they achieved, such as George Custer, who was brevetted to major general during the Civil War, but reverted to captain afterwards and rose only as high as lieutenant colonel.

During the Old West era, egotistical persons sometimes anointed themselves with a title or rank because they owned a large ranch or were wealthy.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu.

Related Articles

  • words_west_voices_of_young_pioneers_ginger_wadsworth_children_trail

    Between 1841-66, nearly 500,000 pioneers went west. Forty thousand of them were children, and one…

  • ask the marshall true west magazine

    Did cowboys use gloves in their work?

  • ask the marshall true west magazine

    Did Old West gunfighters really tie down their holsters?