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  • Cam Writt

The Legend of Bill "Wild Gerald" Fitzsimmons

Updated: Jan 13

Though you may not have heard of him, Bill “Wild Gerald” Fitzsimmons was as prominent a character in Western lore as Davey Crockett, George Custer, or Daniel Boone. Of course, one goes out of one’s way to avoid comparing him to Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill, or Wild Bill Hickok, as the preponderance of Bills forced Fitzsimmons to base his moniker on his middle name — something he never really got over. Wild Gerald was known for feats of marksmanship. If you tossed a thimble in the air (which was a punishable crime back then), he could shoot a hole clean through it after it landed and he got several steps closer. He wasn’t all guns and no heart, however. Rather than shoot thousands of buffalo, he’d brazenly walk up to them one at a time, point his finger at their chests, saying “what’s that?” When they looked down, he’d flick their noses. Once, while being chased by corrupt lawmen, he posed as a saloon girl to avoid capture. This went on for months, only for Fitzsimmons to discover that the cantina owner fabricated the story about the posse, and just needed some extra help during the busy season. Wild Gerald met his end when he crossed the wrong band of criminals, who mercilessly beat him with violin bows until he died of old age in 1972.

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