Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bat Masterson On Western Wednesday...!

Some names from the days of the Old West never truly fade away. Such is the name of Bat Masterson.

This man was so well know, he had his own television show. Of course, the show was long after Bat's passing. In some circles, he is still a famous person.

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.

Isn't it funny how some names from the past stay with us? Guess we always will need our heroes, right? Right!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. W'll take a chance on the weather!


linda m said...

I remember the TV show Bat Masterson very well. Bat always had on a bowler hat. I love the true stories of the old west legends. Good story for western Wednesday. I'll take my chances for coffee on your patio. Mine is under a deep freeze and snow covered. How about some fresh hot cinnamon rolls to go with our coffee.

Chickenmom said...

Hubby just loves your Western Wednesdays! (Me, too)! I'll take two of your cinnamon rolls, Linda!

JO said...

Well you know I love all the old western stories thanks for this great story.

I'll take a refill please

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda M...
Sounds like a great idea with the cinnamon rolls! I like them a lot!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Phyllis...
Glad your hubby (and you) like the western stories! Makes it all worthwhile!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Jo...
You are certainly more than welcome, my friend!

Thanks, sweetie, for stopping by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I get the Western Channel and they run the Bat Masterson Show each week day. I usually watch it, but lately they are rerunning the reruns.