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Part 3 - Porter Rockwell: Legends of the Old West





Part 3 of 6 in a series on Orrin Porter Rockwell I wrote for Legends of the Old West. In "A Mormon Sampson," episode three of six in a series for Legends of the Old West, the narrative centers on Orrin Porter Rockwell, renowned for his unwavering loyalty and strength. After Rockwell's arrest for the attempted murder of former Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs, he experiences a tumultuous transport back to Independence, Missouri, marked by a drunken stagecoach driver and a series of misadventures, including an overturned coach and a night spent self-navigating the vehicle in heavy shackles. Despite these challenges, Rockwell demonstrates resilience and quick-thinking, attributes that deepen his mythos among the Mormon community.


This episode also explores his time in a Missouri jail, where, despite a crowded and oppressive environment, he attempts a daring escape with his new cellmate using tools hidden in saddlebags.

The latter part of the episode details Rockwell’s trial and the community’s response to his prolonged imprisonment without conviction, which ironically ends with a minimal sentence after a technically guilty verdict. The episode reflects on Rockwell's legendary status, likened to a "Mormon Sampson," underscoring his role as both a symbol of and a literal fighter against oppression. This portrayal builds a complex image of Rockwell, capturing his physical and moral battles, his strategic mind, and his unshakeable loyalty to Joseph Smith and the Mormon leaders. The narrative sets the stage for further exploration of his contributions and the enduring legacy he creates within the Old West folklore.


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Texas Jack: America's First Cowboy Star by Matthew Kerns is available at:




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