Wild West Wednesday: Vigilante X

JohnXBeidler_smHistorical accounts vary as to whether today’s Wild West character came by his name via the middle name of “Xavier” or it was a family nickname, or he just adopted “X” as his name after becoming a well-known member of the Montana Vigilantes.  Following the big 1863 gold strike in Alder Gulch, waves of miners flooded the region and settled along an area known as the “Fourteen Mile City” – see last week’s Ghost Town article here for more background.

The man who became known as “Vigilante X”, John Beidler, was born on August 14, 1831 in Pennsylvania to parents John and Anna Hoke Beidler.  His father died in 1849 and his mother around 1850 before the census enumeration in August of that year.  That year John was eighteen and his occupation was that of shoemaker.

John was a supporter of abolitionist John Brown and sometime in the 1850’s he made his way to Kansas to try his hand at farming.  That means he would have been on hand during the period known as “Bloody Kansas”.  Following Brown’s death by hanging for his part in the raid on Harper’s Ferry, John left Kansas for Texas.

NOTE:  This article is being enhanced and re-purposed and will appear in a future issue of Digging History Magazine.  In the meantime, check out the digital version of Digging History — Digging History Magazine.  Subscriptions, individual issues, special editions, samples and more are available in the Magazine Store.


  1. Very short… but good information and hooking. 🙂

    • mmm.. yur rite…

  2. Never mind, missing lots of information. What about his later years? In Texas? And when was he in Montana?

    • The “meat” of this article has been pulled. It will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Digging History blog is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine. Subscriptions are easy to purchase (3-month, 6-month and one-year): https://www.digginghistorymag.com/buy-a-subscription/

      If you’d like to try an issue, email me at seh@digginghistorymag.com and reference this comment — I’ll send you a free issue to try out. How’s that?


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