cowboys on the WS ranch where it is claimed a lot of outlaws worked at various times when they wanted to hide out (which doesn't mean any of these cowboys were outlaws-- or not)
When I wrote the first of two Arizona historicals, I did know quite a lot of the history of that time regarding Tucson and the country south of there. I had a feel for the hero and the life he was living as well as what he could live. Sometimes you can almost feel you lived a life-- not to say that I did this but maybe some of it.
As I was editing the manuscript for bringing it out as an eBook, I again looked around for information to correct anything I might have gotten wrong. Instead I found more encouragement for the reality of what was possible in those wild open days in Southern Arizona.
One thing I learned but had never known was that John Slaughter, who I knew as a big rancher and one-time sheriff of Cochise County, one who had done a lot to clean up the bad guys, during a particularly violent time in Southern Arizona, turns out to have had a bad guy history of his own in his younger days.
I got the rest of the story from the magazine, True West out of an article called, 'The Outlaw Cowboys of New Mexico' and who should I find there but a familiar name to me but not in that context-- Texas John Slaughter.
It appears, when a young man, Slaughter had been on the top of New Mexico governor, Lew Wallace's (yep, that one) list of outlaws he most wanted to round up. He even topped Billy the Kid who only came in 14th on that list.
After being released from an 1879 arrest, Slaughter made his way to Arizona. The theory is he had his big ranch right on the border so he could slip across if anybody came after him on old warrants. So from gunman, to outlaw, to respected citizen.
He wasn't the only example of how sometimes a man could ride on the wild side, change his ways and live to an old age despite how so many ended up if they didn't change their ways. It was an encouragement to me that I had the right idea for a story where the hero had a choice to make, but it was one he really could make if he chose.
Of course, there were other choices and some, like Black Jack Ketchum, that's the one they made.
It's what I like about writing romances in particular, how we can look at life and see options and choices that will give us what we want most in life-- it's up to us which road we take.