Monday, April 16, 2012

Bat Masterson

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson (November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921) was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. He was the brother of lawmen James Masterson and Ed Masterson.
His first gunfight took place in 1876 in Sweetwater, Texas (later Mobeetie in Wheeler County, not to be confused with the current Sweetwater, the seat of Nolan County west of Abilene, Texas). He was attacked by a man in a fight, allegedly because of a girl. The other man died of his wounds. Masterson was shot in the pelvis, but recovered. The story that he needed to carry a cane for the rest of his life is a legend perpetuated by the TV series starring the late Gene Barry.
In 1877, he joined his brothers in Dodge City, Kansas. Jim was the partner of Ed who was an assistant marshal. Soon after his arrival, Masterson came into conflict with the local marshal over the treatment of a man being arrested. He was jailed and fined, although his fine was later returned by the city council. He served as a sheriff's deputy alongside Wyatt Earp, and within a few months he was elected county sheriff of Ford County, Kansas. As sheriff, Bat won plaudits for capturing four members of the Mike Roark gang who had unsuccessfully held up a train at nearby Kinsley. He also led the posse that captured Jim Kennedy who had inadvertently killed an entertainer named Dora Hand in Dodge; with a shot through the shoulder Masterson eventually brought Kennedy down.
Fighting in Colorado on the Santa Fe side of its war against the Rio Grande railroad, Masterson continued as Ford County sheriff until he was voted out of office in 1879. During this same period his brother Ed was Marshal of Dodge City and died in the line of duty on April 9, 1878. Ed was shot by a cowboy named Jack Wagner who was unaware that Bat was in the vicinity. As Ed stumbled away from the scene, Masterson responded from across the street with deadly force, firing on both Wagner and Wagner's boss, Alf Walker. Wagner died the next day but Walker was taken back to Texas and recovered. The local newspapers were ambiguous about who shot Wagner and Walker and this led some later historians to question whether Bat was involved. However, the
Bat Masterson died at age 67 on October 25, 1921, while living and working in New York City. He collapsed at his desk from a heart attack after penning what became his final column for the New York Morning Telegraph. His body was taken to Campbell's Funeral Parlor and later buried after a simple service in Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York. His full name, William Barclay Masterson, appears above his epitaph on the large granite grave marker in Woodlawn. His epitaph states that he was "Loved by Everyone."

Deputies Bat Masterson (standing) and Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, 1876. The scroll on Earp's chest is a cloth pin-on badge

“I went up town with the milk this morning and did some errands.  This afternoon I painted some cornice (first coat) on the barn and spread some manure.  Has been a fine warm day and the snow is all gone except a few small patches but the ground is very wet.”
Leesah

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