Did cowboys or gunfighters have tattoos? And if so what kind of tattoos?
Tattoo’s go back thousands of years. In this country many Native American tribes wore tattoos. In 1846 a man named Martin Hildebrandt, began his career as a tattoo artist. He was among the first American tattoo artists. He opened a shop in New York City in 1870. One of his subjects was his daughter Nora. She got the deluxe job that covered most of her body. During the Civil War he visited camps on both sides tattooing soldiers. They weren’t multi-colored like today. Most were simple and might have the names of wives or girlfriends but some were quite elaborate. Sailors visiting exotic islands also got them. So, it’s very likely some cowboys and gunfighters sported a tattoo or two. These were all done by hand until the first tattoo machine came out in the 1890s.
My dad had his first wife’s name tattooed on his arm. If my mom objected to that she never said. Jennie Jerome, a wealthy New York socialite in the 19th century had a tattoo of a snake on her arm. Her cousin was Eugene Jerome, for whom the town of Jerome is named. She married Randolph Churchill and gave birth to a son named Winston.