What’s in a Name?

Annie Oakley, Western legends

Everyone knows that Billy the Kid went by several names—Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim, William Bonney—but who was Phoebe Anne Mozee? Who was Josiah Horner? Who was Harry Longabaugh? Or J.D. Howard? Or Charles E. Boles? All are the real names of Western legends. Phoebe was known as Annie Oakley. Josiah Horner is a real name of Sheriff Frank M. Canton, who helped lead the cattlemen and gunfights who sought to destroy the small farmers in the violent Johnson County War in Wyoming. He didn’t go by his real name because Joseph Horner was wanted in Texas for murder and a string of other crimes. Harry Longabaugh got his famous name because he served a jail term for horse stealing in Sundance, Wyoming, and the “Sundance Kid” stuck. And J. D. Howard was an alias sometimes used by Jesse James—his best buddies called him “Dingus”. His neighbors in St. Joseph, Missouri, knew him as J. D. at the time of his death. Charles E. Boles, meanwhile, was better known as “Black Bart”—the name under which he robbed a succession of stagecoaches.

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