“Sheet-Iron Jack” Allen, was a California horse thief who wore an iron vest when plying his trade. Jack earned his nickname after surviving four barrels of buckshot.
Charlie Bryant was fired upon at close range with a pistol. Bullet grazed his cheek leaving permanent powder burns and gave him the name “Black-Face Charlie.”
Ice Box Bernie Bolton was a safecracker with Soapy Smith’s criminal ring in Denver. One dark night he attached several sticks of dynamite to an icebox thinking he was blowing up the safe. The boys never let him forget his oversight.
The famous Texas veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto, patriot and statesman, Robert Williamson’s right leg was drawn up at the knee from a childhood illness. He added a wooden leg to walk on leaving his bad leg extended behind him. His trousers were custom-made with three legs.
When the rear wagon wheel of a hide hunter named Jones’ broke. Friends told him there was an abandoned wagon eight miles up the trail. He went off to find it get a replacement wheel and came back empty-handed saying he found the wagon but the only sound wheel on the wagon was the left, rear wheel. They told him the wheels were inter-changable but from that time on he was known as “Wrong Wheel Jones.”
Native Americans often times had their names corrupted through translation. The Lakota leader whose name literally meant “His Face is Like a Storm” was translated to “Rain in the Face.” Another, renowned warrior, whose name describes him as a warrior so courageous the mere presence of his horses struck fear into his enemies was translated to “Young Man Afraid of His Horses.”
Sometimes their names were changed through some act that brought disrespect upon them. White Eagle was a prominent Comanche medicine man blessed with extraordinary powers the before the Battle of Adobe Walls, but afterwards the humiliating defeat at the hands of the buffalo hunters he tried to absolve himself by claiming Cheyenne warriors had violated a taboo by killing a skunk. This didn’t fly well with the Dog Soldiers and they changed his name to Isatai or “Rear End of a Wolf.“