Gunslinger Biography William Barclay Bat Masterson Part 1

About the famous gunslinger William Barclay Bat Masterson, history and biography, description and crimes.


Name: WILLIAM BARCLAY "BAT" MASTERSON, born in Iroquois County, Ill. on Nov. 24, 1853; died in New York City on Oct. 25, 1921.

Description: About 5 ft. 9 in., solid and muscular, with a full head of straight black hair, bushy eyebrows, slate-blue eyes, and a neatly trimmed full mustache. A fancy dresser, which was typical of successful gamblers of the time. Although gregarious and possessing a sense of humor, he was seldom seen without his heavily decorated gunbelt and two nickel-plated Colt .45s with ivory or pearl handles, as well as his gold-headed cane.

Resume: Bat was one of seven children born to Thomas and Catherine McGurk Masterson, who migrated from Illinois into Kansas, near Wichita, in 1871. At 17 he left the farm for the excitement of Dodge City.

His reputation began when he used a six-gun to collect his wages from a contractor for the Santa Fe Railroad, and it grew with the retelling of his exploits as a buffalo hunter. In 1872 Masterson was involved in the Battle of Adobe Walls, where 28 hunters quelled an attack by 500 Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes.

Masterson killed his first white man in Sweetwater, Tex., in 1876, while acting as a civilian scout for Col. Nelson A. Miles. At the time, he was courting Molly Brennan, a former girl friend of Sgt. Melvin King. Finding them together in a saloon, King drew his gun and accidentally killed Molly; his bullet passed through her body and hit Bat in the pelvic area. From the floor, Masterson shot and killed King, but forevermore he walked with a limp and carried a cane.

Elected sheriff of Ford County, Kans., in 1877, he put down lawlessness with his cane more often than with his guns. This earned him the nickname Bat. Without a shot, he captured the famed Rudabaugh and his gang of bank robbers.

On Apr. 9, 1878, Masterson's brother Ed, then marshal of Dodge City, was killed while arresting two drunken cowboys. Bat promptly killed Jack Wagner and wounded Alfred Walker. The 1880s found Masterson in Tombstone, Ariz., and Trinidad and Creede, Colo. Until 1890, he lived in a whole series of border towns and camps. In many, he was both a lawman and a gambler.

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