Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Last Gunfight For Bat...!

For Western Wednesday, I found an interesting story on History that told some background on Bat Masterson.

I always find it interesting to learn more about the names we all know from long ago! Often these folks had a very interesting early life, and by learning more of these early days we might better understand who they were.

Apr 16, 1881:
Bat Masterson's last shootout

On the streets of Dodge City, famous western lawman and gunfighter Bat Masterson fights the last gun battle of his life.

Bartholomew "Bat" Masterson had made a living with his gun from a young age. In his early 20s, Masterson worked as a buffalo hunter, operating out of the wild Kansas cattle town of Dodge City. For several years, he also found employment as an army scout in the Plains Indian Wars. Masterson had his first shootout in 1876 in the town of Sweetwater (later Mobeetie), Texas. When an argument with a soldier over the affections of a dance hall girl named Molly Brennan heated up, Masterson and his opponent resorted to their pistols. When the shooting stopped, both Brennan and the soldier were dead, and Masterson was badly wounded.

Found to have been acting in self-defense, Masterson avoided prison. Once he had recovered from his wounds, he apparently decided to abandon his rough ways and become an officer of the law. For the next five years, Masterson alternated between work as Dodge City sheriff and running saloons and gambling houses, gaining a reputation as a tough and reliable lawman. However, Masterson's critics claimed that he spent too much as sheriff, and he lost a bid for reelection in 1879.

For several years, Masterson drifted around the West. Early in 1881, news that his younger brother, Jim, was in trouble back in Dodge City reached Masterson in Tombstone, Arizona. Jim's dispute with a business partner and an employee, A.J. Peacock and Al Updegraff respectively, had led to an exchange of gunfire. Though no one had yet been hurt, Jim feared for his life. Masterson immediately took a train to Dodge City.
When his train pulled into Dodge City on this morning in 1881, Masterson wasted no time. He quickly spotted Peacock and Updegraff and aggressively shouldered his way through the crowded street to confront them. "I have come over a thousand miles to settle this," Masterson reportedly shouted. "I know you are heeled [armed]-now fight!" All three men immediately drew their guns. Masterson took cover behind the railway bed, while Peacock and Updegraff darted around the corner of the city jail. Several other men joined in the gunplay. One bullet meant for Masterson ricocheted and wounded a bystander. Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.

The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns to stop the battle when a brief lull settled over the scene. Updegraff and the wounded bystander were taken to the doctor and both eventually recovered. In fact, no one was mortally injured in the melee, and since the shootout had been fought fairly by the Dodge City standards of the day, no serious charges were imposed against Masterson. He paid an $8 fine and took the train out of Dodge City that evening.

Masterson never again fought a gun battle in his life, but the story of the Dodge City shootout and his other exploits ensured Masterson's lasting fame as an icon of the Old West. He spent the next four decades of his life working as sheriff, operating saloons, and eventually trying his hand as a newspaperman in New York City. The old gunfighter finally died of a heart attack in October 1921 at his desk in New York City.

An article like this makes for a more interesting profile of the man, don't you think?

Better have our coffee on the patio today. Cleaning lady is coming over to Mom's and she needs lots of room!


Rob said...

I wondered why your blog was always up when I checked in the morning. You start early!

I stopped in Tombstone and did the tour of the Bird Cage Theater, it was interesting to see who Wyatt Earp really was.

Thanks for the lesson on Bat Masterson.

JMD said...

Now we are getting a bit closer to where I live. Fascinating story about Masterson. Thanks for putting that up.

Sixbears said...

It was a different time with different rules.

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Good one today, Mr. Hermit. Just love Western Wednesday's! He was really quite an interesting rascal.
Coffee on the patio is fine, it's only 28 and windy here. Hurry Jo, I'll bring DD's - let's hope no one else finds out how good the chocolate honey dippeds are!

linda m said...

That article certainly is different from the TV show "Bat Masterson" that I used to watch as a child. The true story is much more interesting. They certainly had "colorful" characters in the Old West.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I do believe that the true stories about the old west are a lot more interesting (and believable) than the entertainment world portrays.

Barney (The Old Fat Man) said...

Shows you that sitting at a desk is deadly.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rob...
I usually pre-post my blog the night before and time it to post at midnight!

Glad you found it interesting. Always nice to get the real story!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey JMD...
Always interesting to find out stories that are close to home. Makes you feel them a little more, I think!

I'm happy that you enjoyed it!

Thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Sixbears...
Boy, was it ever! Wonder just where I would have fit in back then?

The rules were a lot easier to understand back then, I believe!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Phyllis...
I know that you like those stories on Western Wednesday! Makes the middle of the week more entertaining, doesn't it?

You and Jo really like those honey dipped donuts, don't you?

Thanks so much for coming over today!

Hey Linda...
Yep, the television show was not quite the same as the real story!

Colorful would be a good way to describe them, I reckon! Sure makes them interesting, that's for sure!

Many thanks for dropping in today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
The real story would make for much more interesting television, I think!

Probably would have to have a "M" rating, though!

Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!

Hey Barney...
Ya know...I've thought that very thing for many years! Guess this is the proof!

Thanks for the visit today!

Jim said...

I love just about anything western. Great story

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Now I know more than I did before about Masterson and sure different fro the old TV show I used to watch. Bet that chocolate pie was delicious, HJ.