Squabble's Over: Rival Western History Groups Merge

Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association and Wild West History Association Join forces

Saturday, August 30 2008 14:36   Old West Associations
It's kind of like the old Western B-movie scene where two gunfighters meet face-to-face on Main Street and one of them always says, "This town ain't big enough for the two of us!" Well, it looks like the two gunfighters have decided the town is big enough-if they join forces.

Since 1990, aficionados of the Old West's outlaws and lawmen have had their choice of two competing history groups providing research, member journals and newsletters, presentations and fun-filled events, which sometimes caused a dilemma of having to choose one group over the other.

That dilemma is now over.

In January 2008, the National Association for Outlaw and Lawmen History (NOLA), formed in 1974, and the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association (WOLA), founded in 1990, officially merged to form the Wild West History Association (WWHA).

The new group's Web site can be found at

These two history groups, each with a worldwide membership, have created the primary Wild West history organization in the world, according to Robert McCubbin, president of the combined association.

"I was on the committee that worked for more than a year looking into the possibility of the two groups coming together," McCubbin told OldWestNewWest.Com. "We Did a poll of membership-combined is 600-a pretty good group, and the response was overwhelmingly in favor of coming together as one group."

The two groups were virtually identical, even down to their agendas. Each published four journals a year, and each had a major conference each year.

"A couple of years ago, the idea started of coming together," McCubbin, who is publisher-emeritus of True West magazine, said. "In 2006 the investigating committee came up with the new name. Then in July 2007 each group had own annual meeting, and both groups voted to go forward with merger. The new board met in October 2007 at Phoenix, and officially accepted the new name."

Why there were two groups is because back before 1990 there was a disagreement among members of NOLA about the group's direction and plans. As with many organizations, the squabble led to an impasse and a schism.

But as with many such squabbles, the reasons and the people behind the split are faded and gone.

"Each group selected seven board members, and nominated one more - me," McCubbin said. "I didn't seek it, and it will only be for a year," he added about his presidency. McCubbin was with WOLA, and on its board, and was also a member of NOLA. It seems he was the natural choice to help integrate the two groups and help launch WWHA.

"I think the members will stay on board," he said. "I'm pleased with the way things are going, there is a lot of enthusiasm, and we are getting good support."

McCubbin said the WWHA is dedicated to providing publications and forums for the enlightenment and enjoyment of its members, facilitating and encouraging research, study, writing, presentation, and preservation of the history and the lore of the people, events, and places that made the American West "wild" in the last half of the nineteenth century.

That vision embraces the lawmen, outlaws, gunfighters, rustlers, vigilantes, feuds, shady ladies, saloons, cow towns, and mining camps, along with recognizing and honoring those individuals and institutions that make significant contributions to the knowledge and preservation of Wild West history and lore, he said.

"We're starting with the same focus that both groups had, the outlaws, and lawmen and gunfighters," he said. "But none of us wanted to get stuck with name that rhymed with Cola.

The committee came up with Wild West History Association.

"A lot of people liked that," he said, "It's more catchy, and it offers us the chance to expand our focus. Of course, we will take any expansion slowly, because we said the merged association would have the same focus initially. We said that any change or expansion will be at the direction of the membership. We will stay in keeping with the membership's wishes."

McCubbin said the new name itself does offer the possibility of expanding into other areas of the American Wild West.

The new group's annual convention was to be held July 16-19, 2008, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. McCubbin said there wwas to be "14 great speakers, half covering Oklahoma related topics, and half dealing with the greater Wild West," and six interesting "break-out" sessions.

For more information on the annual convention, upcoming programs and membership, visit the Web site at