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Fists and Spurs - The Story of Carson Strauss

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

The American West of the 1850s was a haven for those running from their past. Among the many who sought a new life in the American west was Carson Strauss, a once-convicted English criminal and famed pugilist. However, instead of finding redemption, Carson plunged deeper into lawlessness, becoming one of the most feared outlaws of his time. This is his story.

Carson Strauss, fighting card photograph

Carson's life began in the gritty streets of London, where he quickly gained notoriety as a skilled boxer. His fists were his ticket to fame, but they were also his downfall. A life of petty crime and underground boxing matches eventually led to his conviction. Realizing that London had become a cage from which he could not escape, Carson set his sights on the American West - a land where he believed he could start anew.

Castle Garden depot, unknown

Upon his arrival in America, Carson found honest work hard to come by. His penchant for violence and crime found a new outlet. He became involved in cattle rustling, train robberies, and even murder. His reputation grew, not as a man to be admired, but as a man to be feared. The very land that promised him freedom became the stage for his descent into infamy.

The Cannon Train Robbery, 1862

While it's easy to paint Carson as a villain, it's important to understand the complexities of his character. He was a man of contradictions - a skilled fighter who could have been a hero, but who chose a darker path. His actions were driven by a combination of circumstance, poor choices, and perhaps, an innate propensity for destruction.

Unknown ranch, set on fire by the Strauss Gang

Carson's name became synonymous with the dangers of the American West. Tales of his exploits were told and retold, each more embellished than the last. While he may have sought freedom and opportunity, what he found was a life of crime that left a lasting impact on the communities he terrorized.

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jonnel Victorino
jonnel Victorino

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