If you imagine the Old West, you are very likely to bring up images of gunslingers shooting each other, gold miners fighting over claims or cattlemen battling each other over herds or water rights. In short, you probably imagine the Old West as hopelessly and unusually violent.
The truth is that the Old West was not any more violent, on a whole, than the rest of the United States in the late 19th century, and in most locales it was significantly safer. The truth is that people mostly got along with each other and formed cooperative local governments to deal with conflict resolution in a peaceful way. And, interestingly, even though most men openly carried guns, crime was significantly lower in general than in most American cities today.
And Utah, settled by Mormons, was, on a whole, one of the safest and crime-free areas of the West.
Consider the following:
*In the cattle towns of Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell for the years from 1870 to 1885, only 45 homicides were reported, an average of 1.5 per cattle-trading season. In Abilene, supposedly one of the wildest of the cow towns, “nobody was killed in 1869 or 1870. In fact, nobody was killed until the advent of officers of the law, employed to prevent killings.” Only two towns, Ellsworth in 1873 and Dodge City in 1876, ever had five killings in any one year. (Source).
*A detailed study of violence in two of the most violent mining towns in Aurora, Nevada, and Bodie, California shows that property crime rates were very low and that rape was nonexistent. Almost all men carried guns, but the guns mostly served as deterrents. “Robbery of individuals, burglary, and theft occurred only infrequently and rape seems not to have occurred at all. Racial violence and serious juvenile crime were absent also. The homicides that occurred almost invariably resulted from gunfights between willing combatants. The old, the weak, the innocent, the young, and the female were not the targets of violent men. In fact, all people in those categories would have been far safer in Aurora or Bodie than they are today in any major U.S. city. Even most smaller cities and towns are far more crime ridden and dangerous than were Aurora and Bodie.” (Source).