Wild West Podcast

Law and Legend in the Wild West: A Heart-pounding Journey into the Chaotic Life of Sheriff Bat Masterson

June 09, 2022 Michael King/Brad Smalley
Wild West Podcast
Law and Legend in the Wild West: A Heart-pounding Journey into the Chaotic Life of Sheriff Bat Masterson
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Hold onto your hats as we pull back the curtain on the life of legendary lawman Bat Masterson. Prepare for an adrenaline-filled journey through the Wild West, starting with Bat's time in Texas, his notorious gunfight in Sweetwater, and his subsequent move to Dodge City. As we put you in the middle of the action, you'll experience first-hand his tussle with Sergeant King over Molly Brennan, the tragedy of her untimely death, and Bat's transformation into a houseman at the Lone Star Dance Hall. But the excitement doesn't stop there - we also delve into his arrest following a disagreement with the City Marshal.

We dive deeper into the chaos as Bat's pursuit of justice takes center stage. From the electrifying shootout with A.C. Jackson to the candle-lit assessment of the aftermath, we recreate the drama of these historic moments. You'll also join Bat on his relentless hunt for Jim Kennedy, the man responsible for the brutal murder of young Dora Hand. And as we round up the tale, we reflect on the impact of Billy Brooks's return to Dodge City, bringing with him an infamous reputation as a lawman turned outlaw. This episode promises tales of bravery, justice, and the struggle to maintain order amidst the lawlessness of Dodge City. So saddle up for a thrilling ride through the Wild West with Sheriff Bat Masterson!

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After the gunfight in Sweetwater, texas, and the killing of Molly Brennan and Melvin King, masterson settles in Dodge City. He soon becomes embroiled in a wrestling match with the City Marshal over the arrest of Bobby Gill. Masterson is arrested and given a fine of $25 for disturbing the peace. The incident establishes a motivation for Masterson to run for sheriff of Ford County and he has awarded the vote of victory over Larry Digger. The following years are the portion of Masterson's life that not only makes him a famous lawman, but also where he suffers a greater loss the death of his brother. Ed Wild West Podcast is proud to present the life and times of Bat Masterson, part 3. Gunfighters, gamblers, jokers and saloon girls. Shortly after being released as an Army scout, masterson took a job as a freighter. Billy Dixon and Bat began hauling supplies during the winter months of 1876 from Ford Supply to Fort Katonement, about two miles northeast of a little settlement called Mobidi, which later became Sweetwater, texas. After meeting Ben Thompson at the Lady Gay Saloon in Mobidi, ben introduced Bat to Billy Thompson and his partner Henry Fleming. Billy ran the gambling tables in Lady Gay and asked Bat if he would like a job running the Farrow Table. Billy had heard of Masterson's success at Dodge City and how Bat was an excellent Farrow dealer. While Bat ran the Farrow Table, he met Miss Molly Brennan. The one problem with Masterson's relationship with Molly is that she already had a potential suitor by the name of Sergeant King. When Melvin King found out that Molly was spending more time with Mr Masterson, king became jealous. One night after closing, molly and Masterson were in the Lady Gay Saloon. Having been given the key by Henry Fleming, the saloon keeper, king knocked on the door and, unknowing who was on the other side, masterson unlocked it. King quickly entered with his pistol drawn and fired a shot at Masterson. Molly, standing beside Masterson, jumped in the way of the bullet from King's gun. The bullet went through Molly and lodged into Masterson's pelvic bone. While Masterson fell to the floor, he pulled his pistol and returned fire, striking King and killing him instantly. After receiving medical care and staying a few days in Moe Beatty to heal from his wound, bat returned home to Wichita to recuperate for a few months before returning to Dodge City in 1876. Dodge City, founded in 1872 five miles west of Fort Dodge, became a boom town when the Santa Fe Railroad laid its tracks along Front Street In 1876, the Kansas legislators quarantined the entire trail corridor, echoing farmers' concerns over tick fever. As a result of these route changes, dodge City by 1876 became a destination point for the Texas cowhands. The combination of buffalo hunters, gamblers, cowboys and soldiers, mixed with 16 saloons, made Dodge City a rough and disorderly frontier town. So when Masterson arrived carrying a cane, dodge City needed law enforcement. Wyatt Earp from Wichita was already on board wearing a badge supporting the first city marshal, larry Dagger. The city marshal needed another good man like Wyatt, with courage and the ability to take care of himself. Masterson, a trim, good-looking young man with a pleasant face and carefully barbed mustache, well-tailored clothes, hat with a rakeish tilt and two big silver-mounted ivory-handled pistols and a heavy belt fit the bill. Bat was soon walking the streets of Dodge City enforcing new city ordinances and taming the wild and woolly cowboys. News of gold strikes in the Black Hills of South Dakota tipped off a gold fever that burned through Masterson like a hot fire. Bat resigned his position and left Dodge City in July. Masterson boarded a train to Cheyenne Wyoming territory in June of 1876 to join the gambling dens of the Black Hills gold fields. By April of 1877, bat returned to Dodge City to buy an interest in the Lone Star Dance Hall. The money that flowed in and out of Dodge City due to the prosperous cattle business caused many profit-seeking individuals to open combination saloons and gambling establishments. The proprietors of such a trade often hired men such as Wyatt, Earp and Masterson to act as housemen. A new mayor, james Dogg Kelly, elected in April of 1877 and Bat anticipated an entire season of the prosperous cattle trade. Bat settled in with a new partner by the name of Ben Springer to operate the Lone Star Dance Hall, one of the finest saloons south of the tracks. The Lone Star Dance Hall made a direct pitch for the cowboy trade. No expense was spared on time-tested surefire entertainment for soon-to-arrived trailhands. On one side of the Lone Star Dance Hall was a Brunswick Bulk calendar mahogany bar. On the opposite side were gambling tables for Pharaoh, roulette, poker, monty and chuckle luck. In the rear was a small stage with space for an orchestra where variety shows were provided occasionally. Upstairs were rooms where Dance Hall girls slept and entertainment of a more intimate nature was afforded. Unfortunately, on June 6, not long after he arrived in Dodge, masterson got in trouble with the law. After a scuffle in the streets with Larry Digger, the town marshal, masterson was arrested for disorderly conduct. The Dodge City Times described what happened. Bobby Gill walked leisurely, so much so that Larry felt it necessary to administer a few paternal kicks in the rear. This act was soon interrupted by Bat Masterson, who wound his arm affectionately around the marshal's neck and let the prisoner escape. Digger then grappled with Bat, at the same time calling upon the bystanders to take the offender's gun and assist in the arrest. Joe Mason appeared upon the scene at this critical moment and took the gun. But Masterson would not surrender yet and came near getting ahold of a pistol from among several which were strewed around over the sidewalk. About half a dozen Texas men came to the marshal's aid and gave him a chance to draw his gun and beat Bat over the head until blood flew upon Joe Mason so that he kicked and warded off the blows with his arm. Bat Masterson seen possessed of extraordinary strength and every inch of the way was closely contested. But the city dungeon was reached at last and in he went. If he had got ahold of his gun before going in, there would have been a general killing. Ben Masterson, appointed assistant marshal the day before, made his first arrest of the season when he hunted Bobby Gill down that afternoon and lodged him in the pokey with his brother, bat. In October of 1877, masterson changed his occupation. Again, deciding to take Wyatt Earp's advice, bat began campaigning for the Office of Sheriff of Ford County, the county in which Dodge was situated. October 13, 1877, dodge City Times carried the following declaration of Mr Masterson At the request of many citizens of Ford County, I have consented to run for the Office of Sheriff at the coming election in this county. I have no pledges to make, as pledges are usually considered before the election to be mere clap-trap. I desire to say to the voting public that I am no politician and shall make no combinations that would be likely to in any wise hamper. We in the discharge of the duties of the Office On November 6, 1877, bat Masterson was elected Sheriff of Ford County by three votes, defeating Larry Digger by 166 votes to 163. The election took place 20 days before Masterson's 24th birthday. The Hayes Sentinel, which covered the election, wrote the following Larry Digger only lacked three votes of being elected Sheriff of Ford County. His successful opponent, bat Masterson, is said to be cool, decisive and a bad man with a pistol, even though Digger filed to contest the election and withdrew the suit two months later. Bat Masterson was officially sworn in as Ford County Sheriff on January 14, 1878. As Sheriff he was responsible for a vast territory in numbering over 9,500 square miles. Ford County was created in 1867 and organized in 1873. Not all the unorganized region west of it to Colorado Line was attached for judicial purposes. During this period, the Sheriff of Ford County was the Supreme Law Enforcement Official in a large chunk of southwestern Kansas. To help him in this extraordinary task, bat appointed three men Charlie Bassett, his former boss, who now became his under-sharef, simon Woodruff, deputy sheriff, and John W Straughn. Jailer Woodruff did not remain long and was succeeded by William Duffy, a planes-wise, former Indian scout and tracker. During his term of office, bat called upon special deputies including John Joshua Webb, prairie Dog, dave Morrow, kinch, riley Miles, mix, bill Tillman, wyatt Earp and brother Jim Masterson. Although Masterson was not responsible for keeping the peace in Dodge City, he spent a great deal of his time there and was always ready to help the city marshal when the need occurred. After the election, things were relatively quiet for Sheriff Masterson and Dodge City until April 9, 1878. At this time, dodge's ordinance concerning the non-wearing of firearms within the city limits was to cause considerable grief to the Masterson family. The Dodge City Times at Ford County Globe reported the incident as follows. At 10 o'clock last night, city Marshal Edward Masterson discovered that a cowboy named Jack Wagner was carrying a six-shooter. Contrary to the city ordinance, wagner was at the time under the influence of liquor but quietly gave up the pistol. The Marshal gave it to some of Wagner's friends for safekeeping and stepped out into the street. No sooner had he done so than Wagner ran out after him pulling another pistol which the Marshal had not observed. The Marshal saw him coming and turned upon Wagner and grabbed hold of him. Wagner shot Marshal Masterson at once through the abdomen, being so close to him that the discharge set the Marshal's clothes on fire. Masterson then shot Wagner. About this time a man named Walker got mixed up in the fight. It appears he was a boss-herder and Wagner was working under him. He also got shot once through the left lung and his right arm was twice broken. Wagner, being shot, ran into Peacock's Saloon and fell upon the floor where he remained until carried away by friends. He was fatally shot through the abdomen. He died on the evening of the tenth and was buried on the hill near town at four pm on the eleventh Walker, the boss herder ran through Peacock's Saloon and fell some distance in the rear of the saloon, from whence he was carried by his friends to a room over right Beverly and Coe's door where he now lies in a very precarious condition. Marshall Masterson walked across the tracks and street and entering Hoover's Saloon in the Agonies of Death he said to George Hinkel George, I'm shot, and sank to the floor. His clothes were still on fire from the discharge of the pistol. He was carried to his brother's room where in half an hour he died. One in the city knew Ed Masterson and liked him. They liked him as a boy, they liked him as a man and they liked him as an officer. The funeral procession marched to the military cemetery at Fort Dodge where last rites were performed. That's practice of making someone the butt of a harmless prank was continuous throughout Bat Masterson's life. Indeed, it added to his reputation as one of the Old West's most genial and likeable personalities. Frontier humor was quite often startling and nerve testing and desperate and thrilling. An incident involving Masterson and Wyatt Earp proves this point. A particular professor of the so-called occult sciences wrote the Mayor of Dodge about the possibility of his coming to the cowboy town to deliver a lecture. The Mayor turned the letter over to Bat, who was sheriff. The peace officer quickly saw the opportunity that prevailed for some shenanigans. Masterson invited the professor to come to Dodge, and Bat even acted as the program chairman. Unfortunately, the speaker had not long commenced his lecture when someone from the back row of the Lady Gay Saloon, where the meeting was held, hollered out that the lecturer was a liar. Bat demanded order, and with the result that the meeting place once again became quiet. However, within a few minutes the professor was re-challenged, causing Bat and Wyatt to draw their guns and begin firing over the audience. The poor professor was so scared that he hid under a platform table. He little knew that the bullets being used were blanks. In an article entitled In and Out of Dodge City, the Dodge City Times wrote Dodge City has been shaken from center to circumference during the past week by the advent of a gentleman of distinction who bore Meredith's unassuming name and title MD. He was what the boys would call a daisy. The general outlines of his outward appearance did not indicate that he had ever finished his education with foreign travel or that he had at any time during his earthly career paragonated with a circus. Therefore he was not thoroughly posted on the modes and costumes that prevail in chaste and civilized societies with progressive ideas such as Dodge possesses and, to all appearances, is wonderfully proud. The doctor had written to some of our citizens wishing to know whether Dodge would be a good field for his line of science, which he designed as phrenology and the treatment of certain diseases which it is not here necessary to mention in detail. He was encouraged to come and recommended Major James Dalton and Mr Luke Magaloo as prominent citizens who would likely take a deep interest in his cause. Immediately after his arrival, he determined to deliver a lecture defining his particular sphere, so that the public might understand his great mission and come unto him to be cured and have their organs examined. The old Lady Gay Dance Hall was engaged for the occasion and thither at an early candlelighting, a large concourse assembled. Mr W B Masterson Esquire was chosen to act as chairman and introduced the speaker in a few neat and well-chosen remarks. Dr Meredith opened his address by saying that he had not intended to deliver a lecture but at the urgent solicitation of numerous prominent you lie, shouted someone in the audience. Chairman Masterson rebuked the insult and when the order was restored, the doctor began again, but proceeding further in a like manner. He was again interrupted by an insulting remark from one of the audience, and it was only by stern commands and threats of annihilation that the chairman brought the house to order Again. The doctor proceeded and was just waiting, deep into scientific problem, when a loud, profane and fiendish yell from Luke Maglue turned the house into an uproar of excitement, and all efforts to restore order were in vain. Just at this critical moment, a southside exorter with one eye and a sling made an effort to drag the order from the stand, whereupon Chairman Masterson drew from beneath his coattails a colt, improvised nickel-plated-sized 44 shooting instrument, and formed himself in a hollow square in front of the horrified doctor, determined to defend or die. A crash was heard, the lamps went out instantaneously, windows were smashed, missiles flew through the darkness, the air was filled with demonic yells and shooting commenced in rapid secession. In the language of the poet, we may well exclaim what a row that was, my countrymen. After all, the ammunition in the house was expended, the murderous carnival ceased and a lamp was lighted by which to remove the dead and wounded. But the dead and wounded had air this time escaped and even the doctor was nowhere to be found. A search was made and at last he was discovered coiled up under the speaker's stand with his hands over his marble features and a ghastly bullet hole through the crown of his hat. The meeting adjourned, a sin died. In August of 1878, the Dock City Times had this to say about the work of its sheriff Sheriff WB Masterson and Deputy William Duffy are indefatigable in their efforts to ferret out and arrest persons charged with crimes. Scarcely a day passes without reward for their vigilance and promptness. But unfortunately Masterson left and went to Hot Springs, arkansas, for medical aid and rest. In the same month Masterson, it seemed, was suffering from vertigo. Masterson must have deemed the importance of remedying his symptoms, as his sense of the environment moving around him would keep him from doing an adequate job. Masterson returned to Dock City in October of 1878 to lead a posse in the murder of the young dancehall girl named Dora Hand. The incident first occurred in late September when Mayor Dog Kelly, owner of the Alhambra Saloon, and James Kennedy got into an argument while both were drinking. As a result, kennedy threatened Kelly and left town. While Kennedy was away for a few weeks, mayor Kelly, who went to Fort Dodge for medical treatment allowed Dora and her friend Fanny Garrison to stay at his house. At four o'clock on the morning of October 4th, dodge City was peaceful and quiet. The varieties in the kameke where Dora and Fanny worked had been closed for more than an hour and the Mrs Hand and Garrison were sound asleep in Mayor Kelly's home. Fanny Garrison occupied the bed in the front room and Dora Hand slept in Kelly's bed in the room beyond. Fanny returned that night to gun down Kelly and rode by his house, firing several shots into the room where Dora slept. Unfortunately, dora was struck through the heart and instantly killed by the vengeful Marauder. Bat Masterson assembled a posse of law enforcement officers, including Wyatt Earp, bill Tillman and Charlie Bassett, in pursuit of Jim Kennedy, the suspected killer of Dora Hand. It was two o'clock in the afternoon of October 4th when Sheriff Bat Masterson led his posse out of Dodge. According to Robert K Armand, jim Kennedy had a start of almost ten hours on the hunters, whose problem was to locate their query in that vast prairie wilderness lying south and west of Dodge. Although Kennedy was last seen heading west out of town, the law enforcement officers were sure that he would make for his Tesco Sir Ranch to the southwest. They believed he would swing wide of the Jones and Plummer Trail forward the Cimarron near Wagon Bed Springs and head south to cut the Texas Trail in the Indian nations. They planned to cross country with the hope of making the Cimarron forward before the fugitive could reach it by his circuitous route. The posse took a shortcut and caught up with Kennedy as he was ready to cross the Arkansas River. Seeing the posse blocking his path, kennedy turned his horse and ran. While the posse men turned loose avali, three bullets slammed into the galloping steed, dropping him in mid-stride. Kennedy fell partly pinned under the dead horse, his left arm shattered by a ball from a.50 caliber sharps. When the officers approached, according to the story Earp told his biographer the following exchange took place. Kennedy's first words concerned the success of his murderous attack. Did I get that bastard, kelly? He demanded to know. No, but you killed someone else, wyatt told him. Door a hand was asleep in Kelly's bed. The wounded man seemed stunned for a moment. A look of seemingly genuine remorse and self-hatred crossed his face. Then, seeing the sharps big.50 in Bat's hand, he snapped you damn, son of a bitch. You ought to have made a better shot than you did. Well, bat replied in astonishment you damn, murderan son of a bitch. I did the best I could. The posse men took Kennedy back to Dodge and put him in jail, where he refused to confess to the crime. Kennedy's father, texas rancher Mifflin Kennedy, immediately made his way up to Dodge City to arrange defense for his son's crime. His father was no stranger to Dodge City as he provided a considerable percentage of the cattle brought there each year from his ranches in Texas. Mifflin Kennedy was also the co-founder of the King Ranch Kennedy. Texas is named for him as his Kennedy County. Suffice it to say he was wealthy and influential. So he arrived, they say, with a satchel full of money and arranged for his 23-year-old son to get the medical care he needed for his shoulder wound. A judge conducted an inquest into Dorahan's death, but after a meeting that included Sheriff Masterson, mayor Kelly and the judge, they came to an understanding Kennedy was released for lack of evidence. No one saw Kennedy shoot at Mary Kelly's house, resulting in Dorahan's death. Author Tom Clavin, who wrote the book Dodge City, includes information about Bat Masterson and is known for bringing to our attention that there was no statue of Bat Masterson anywhere in the United States and wondered why this question spurred the Ford County Historical Society to get a statue in Dodge City, where he is known. The unveiling of the Bat Masterson statue will be on Sunday, june 19th, at 2pm at the Mueller-Schmidt House. The home of stone is located at 112 East Vine Street, dodge City. The statue was designed and sculpted by Carson Norton and Charles Norton and will be the first statue in the United States honoring William Bartholomew Bat Masterson. So place it on your calendar for this historical event of June 19th 2022 at 2pm. Members of our team at Wild West Podcast and many others plan to attend. That's it for now. Remember to check out our Wild West Podcast shows on iTunes Podcast or at WildWestPodcastBuzzsproutcom. You can also catch us on Facebook at Facebookcom slash Wild West Podcast or on our YouTube channel at Whiskey and Westerns on Wednesday. Thank you for listening to our podcast. Join us next time as we take you back to the return of Billy Brooks, the lawman who turned bad. You can learn more about the Legends of Dodge City by visiting our website at worldfamousgunfightersweeblycom. If you would like to purchase one of our books, you can go to worldfamousgunfightersweeblycom slash bookshtml.

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