Fortune Tellers in the Wild West

Frontier towns in the Wild West were magnets for itinerant travellers seeking their fortune. Some were prostitutes, some were gold prospectors, some were fortune hunters, and there were, even, fortune tellers making their way to these portals of opportunity. People were on the make, taking risks with their investments and hoping that the very newness of these places would allow them to get a foot hold up the ladder to wealth and success. Some succeeded, but the majority failed, and either returned from whence they had come, or stayed, and made the best of a bad lot. You can imagine that with the wheel of fortune spinning so loudly in every one’s ears that the teller of fortunes would find a prominent niche in the market.

Superstition was alive and well in the old days and many would travel by rail from town to town earning quite a good itinerant living – they were there next to the snake-oil salesmen plying their trade and often finding a few ways to earn an extra dollar or two after dark. By dint of the cards, a crystal bowl, reading palms and all the other modes of prophesy, these men and women would curry favour with the locals and those passing through building relationships with promises of second sight and a sixth sense. Hope would be so entrenched in the minds and hearts of these folk, taking their chances in the Wild West, that a few choice words about bright prospects in the near future could earn the teller a shekel or two.

Casting a horoscope for a dreamer, psychic readings and seeing visions for important personages, all in a day when there were not the entertaining distractions of television or radio, would have been a popular past time. Drinking in the saloon and conversations might turn to the palmist promising a glimpse of your future. Wandering gypsies and Chinese fortune tellers were also traversing these towns. Desire for fortune was so strong that the gullible were thick on the ground. Optimistic messages from the beyond would be an ally to those risking life and limb in the pursuit of untold wealth. Fortune tellers in the Wild West had a captive market who ate up the lies and fanciful predictions.

The thing about the wheel of fortune, as it turns, some are raised up and others are cast down, but it just keeps turning just the same. Fate and destiny are determined by the spin of the wheel and whose hand is upon this spoked circle?