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Some Notes on Kansas Cowtown Police Officers and Gunfighters

by Nyle H. Miller and Joseph W. Snell

Spring 1960 (Vol. 26, No. 1), pages 1 to 33
Transcribed by Mike McFadden; HTML composition by Tod Roberts
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to Footnotes for This Section.


Of the thousands of requests for information which come to the Kansas Historical Society each year, many are for material on famous Western marshals, sheriffs, and gunmen, as well as lesser lights. Letters are received from all parts of the United States, Canada, Europe, and even Australia. Those who write are from all walks of life, and include professional writers, clerks, lawyers, factory workers, housewives, and school boys and girls.

For years James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was their favorite. Since the coming of television, Wyatt Earp and William Barclay "Bat" Masterson have taken the ascendancy. There is no doubt that TV Westerns have been the cause of the reawakening of interest which, though it has had previous periods of activity, has never before captivated audiences so extensively. Not only have more TV Westerns been scheduled each season, but "factual" Western magazines have made their appearance. Biographies of Western personalities have been written and rewritten, and countless motion pictures have retold with variations stories that have appeared many times before.

It is unfortunate that few of the authors of these scripts, articles, and books have dug deeper than previously published works for their information. Errors, some of which may have been simple mistakes in original publications, become enriched with age and accepted as fact by latter-day writers. Too seldom is there indication that present day authors have returned to primary source materials for their stories. In fact, it seems at times that a few deliberately reject fascinating fact for not-so-fascinating fiction.

Because of the tremendous demand for information concerning the lives of many of these Western personalities, the State Historical Society is preparing a file which will contain copies of available contemporary records on the law and lawless of several of Kansas' more famous cowtowns. Frankly, the collection is expected to reduce the outlandish number of hours members of the staff are having to spend searching for answers to these numerous requests, many of which are submitted in detail. Also, the cream of this research is now available for publication in this and succeeding issues of The Kansas Historical Quarterly.

Pains have been taken to see that all known contemporary records were examined from each of the towns chosen. Newspapers of the day and official city, county, and state records have been consulted. Manuscript material of the individuals concerned has also been used when available.

The compilers of this series have concentrated as much as possible on primary records. Efforts have been made to avoid undue evaluation or interpretation of the data gathered. Quoted items in most cases speak for themselves. Emphasis has naturally been given to the activities of these individuals in Kansas, although occasionally their careers outside the state receive mention.

Considering the meager material available, a project of this kind cannot be definitive. Therefore, the Society will be the first to admit that it does not have all the answers and never will, for contemporaneous information simply is not available to cover many episodes in the lives of these individuals. It is believed, however, that the following series will be the most accurate and complete chronicle yet published of the many well know peace officers and gunfighters of Kansas. Additional evidence of any kind will be enthusiastically received by the Society, especially if it contemporary with the period.

Eight Kansas cowtowns were chosen for inclusion in this series. There are, of course, others which would qualify, and undoubtedly some readers will feel that the compilers have discriminated and made poor selections. Unfortunately such complaint could be made of any section less than the whole.

The towns chosen, and their necessary fluid end dates, are: Abilene, 1867-1871; Caldwell, 1879-1884; Dodge City, 1873-1886; Ellsworth, 1872-1875; Hays, 1869; Newton, 1871; Wichita, 1871-1875; and Hunnewell whenever appropriate information was discovered.

Of these towns, Hunnewell alone had no direct source of information available, and data had to be obtained from extra-local sources. Abilene, Caldwell, and Wichita city records were available. Copies of nearly all the commissioners' journals of the several counties involved were consulted. Contemporary news papers have been searched for all the communities except Hays, Hunnewell, and Newton. For the last-named towns, the Society has no newspaper files for the years concerned.

All persons found serving as police officers at any governmental level have been recorded. However, only those for whom something of special interest has been found, are given separate treatment.

In addition to lawmen, certain others who were either astraddle or outside the law were included. This latter category includes such well-known Western characters as Luke Short, Clay Allison, and John H. "Doc" Holliday. For the purposes of this list, the term "law enforcement officer" means police officer. However, when the same individuals also served in other governmental capacities, those facts occasionally have been mentioned in passing.

As work for this paper progressed interesting discrepancies appeared. The almost standard characterization presented by the movies and television was found to be highly imaginary. For instance, the classic main street chivalric engagement, known as the "quick draw," apparently was not indulged in either by lawmen or "badmen." When police officers "drew," it was to make a quick arrest without gunfire, if possible. When "badmen" resorted to gunplay, it was either deliberate, premeditated murder from a safe vantage point, or "spur of the moment" shooting caused by anger, drunkenness, or fear. It was rare indeed for principals to walk toward each other down the middle of main street at high noon in that dramatic and awe-inspiring manner so often depicted on the screen. Such show business -for real- was far too likely to be fatal, or at least damaging, to a large percentage of the participants. It was natural, then as now, for most to value their lives, so why give the other fellow an even break when he could be disposed of otherwise, with less risk?

It was curious to note, too, what deplorable marksmen many of the gunslingers sometimes were. Classic examples maybe found in the Loving-Richardson duel in Dodge City and the Hickok-Coe affair in Abilene.

As one reads the sketches in this series it will be noted that nearly all the more famous police officers were, at one time or another, on the receiving end of the law. Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, William M. Tilghman, Henry Brown, all were arrested on suspicion, or for infractions of the law in some degree. Certain other lawmen were equally at home on either side of the fence. But this condition resulted in largely as a byproduct of the times and, in fairness, each of them should be judged in the light of his existing "cultural" surroundings.

Unfortunately for history, many of Kansas' better lawmen seldom receive due credit, while others bask -- some undeservedly -- in the warmth and glory of fame. Probably one of the finest peace officers ever to serve in Kansas was Thomas J. Smith, who was chief of police at Abilene during the cattle season of 1870. Other excellent and dedicated peace officers included Charles E. Bassett and Edward J. Masterson of Dodge City and Mike Meagher of Wichita and Caldwell. Three of these men lost their lives because they wore, or had worn the badge.

The following pages are presented, then, in the hope that some of the inaccuracies of the present may be halted before they go orbiting into eternity, and that deserving lawmen will receive more of the appreciation that is due them. Also, may the reader have some enjoyable moments -- overlooking a few items that are gruesome, of course -- in reliving the days of the "wild and woolly West."

One final "moment of truth," before permitting the past to speak for itself. Stories of the prowess of Matt Dillon, famed on television and radio today, are not to be found in this compilation. "Matt Dillon, U.S. marshal, Dodge City" though he puts on a good show, simply does not exist in history.


Much has been written in various books about Clay Allison's adventures in Dodge City but very little mention of him was found in the town's newspapers. On August 6, 1878, the Ford County Globe noted that "Clay Allison, one of the Allison Bros., from the Cimarron, south of Las Animas, Colorado, stopped off at Dodge last week on his way home from St. Louis. We are glad to say that Clay has about recovered from the effects of the East St. Louis scrimmage."

The Globe, September 10, Mentioned that Allison was again in Dodge on September 5. On March 2, 1880, the Globe printed a letter written by Allison in which he defended his reputation and explained the "East St. Louis scrimmage":


To the Editor of the Globe:

About the 26th of July there appeared in one of the St. Louis papers an account of an altercation between myself and one Tisinger, in East St. Louis, in which account there appeared several gross misrepresentations which I desire to contradict.

1st It was alleged that I was murderer of fifteen men. In answer to this assertion I will say that it is entirely false, and that I sand ready at all times and places for an open inspection, and anyone who wishes to learn of my past record can make inquiries of any of the leading citizens of Wayne county, Tennessee, where I was born and raised, or of officers of the late rebellion, on either side. I served in the 9th Tennessee regiment, Co. F, and the last two years of the service was a scout for Ben McCulloch and Gen. Forrest. Since the war I have resided in Mexico, Texas, and Kansas, principally on the frontier, and I will refer to any of the tax payers and prominent men in either of the localities where I have resided. I have at all times tried to use my influence toward protecting the property holders and substantial men of the country from thieves, outlaws, and murderers, among whom I do not care to be classed.

2nd, It was also charged that I endeavored to use a gun on the occasion of the St. Louis difficulty, which is untrue, and can be proven by either Col. Hunter, of St. Louis, or the clerk of Irwin, Allen & Co. It was also stated that I got the worst of the fight. In regard to this I also refer to Col. Hunter. I do not claim to be prize fighter, but as an evidence of the correct result of this fight. I will only say that I was somewhat hurt but did not squeal, as did my three opponents.

My present residence is on the Washita in Hemphill county, Texas, where I am open for inspection and can be seen at any time.

Clay Allison.
Dodge City, Feb. 26, 1880.
St. Louis and other papers please copy.

The final reference to Allison's being in Dodge was this short item in the Globe, August 17, 1880: "Clay Allison came up from the Pan Handle Sunday."


The first sheriff of Ford county was Charles E. Bassett. Chosen at a special election June 5, 1873, he was re-elected twice and served a total of about four and one half year. [1]

In early April, 1876 young John Callaham and a stranger named Cole, who was sharing Callahams camp on Saw Log creek some 15 miles from Dodge City, were hanged by a posse from Sumner county. The posse, pursuing horse thieves, believed that both Callaham and Cole were guilty but later events seem to indicate that John Callaham was the innocent victim of lynch law. [2]

R. C. Callaham, a Topeka sewing machine salesman and father of John Callaham, conferred with Gov. Thomas A. Osborn and then journeyed to Dodge. He carried with him this letter from the governor to Sheriff Bassett and the county attorney of Ford county:

April 24[, 187]6

To the County Attorney & Sheriff of Ford county.


This will be handed to you by Mr. R. C. Callaham, whose son, John F. Callham, was executed by mob violence in your county, on the 8th inst. He visits Ford County For the purpose of making a thorough investigation of all the facts and circumstances attending the death of his son. He claims that there is no doubt of his son's innocence, and if this claim is correct the [word illegible] atrocity of the crime -an utterly law-defying one at the best-certainly demands the attention of all law-abiding people, and more especially of the officers to whom is entrusted the execution of the law and the preservation of the public peace.

I trust that you will extend to Mr. Callaham all the assistance, counsel and encouragement which it may be in your power to extend. There must be an end to mob violence in this state, and local officers exercising vigilance and energy in its suppression and punishment may rely upon the Executive for support and assistance. Let me know in what manner I can be of service in bringing to justice the perpetrators of this recent outrage, and I shall not be slow in responding to any practical suggestion. In the meantime I trust that you will do everything in your power to facilitate the inquiry which Mr. Callaham proposes to institute.

Very Respectfully,
Your Obed't Servant
Thos. A. Osborn. [3]

Shortly after Callaham's arrival in Dodge City, Sheriff Charles E. Bassett wrote to Governor Osborn and reported Callaham's findings as well as his own feelings in the matter:

Sheriff's Office,
Ford County, Kas.,
Dodge City, April 28, 1876

Thos. A Osborn
Gov. State Kans
Dear Sir

Mr. R. C. Calleham presented to me your letter of the 24 inst.

I gave the Gentleman all the encouragement I could but as I was ignorant of the facts in the Case, My suggestions as council could be of little benefit to him.

Through what little information I gave him and his own exertions he has ascertained the fact that his son, John Calleham, was at Dodge City, on the 3rd day of April 1876 the day on which we held our municipal election. It appears from the statements made by the Sumner County and other papers that the horses were stolen on the 30th inst., and that the parties in pursuit followed the thieves a distance of 300 miles. The theory is that if the deceased John Calleham was here on the 3rd day of April that it would be physically impossible for him to have stolen those horses. Several Citizens of good standing are willing to qualify [sic] that they spoke with him on the 3rd of April, at Dodge City. If he was one of the thieves the time given him to travel over 300 miles of ground was 3 days from the night of the 30th of March to the morning of the 3rd of April. I do not hesitate to say that this fete could not be performed by any one horse or horseman in the time given, especially as the ground was so soft, as to leave an impression, so plain that it could be followed at a very rapid gait.

To be brief, I am now of the opinion that the man was innocent of the crime alleged, and for which he has suffered death. Mr. Calleham wishes me to go to Sumner County and arrest the parties interested in the hanging, but without the assistance of the executive department I am totally unable to do anything, as I am in a poor fix financially to undertake so lengthy a Journey. And as I have to deal with men who have themselves disregarded the law, I will necessarily have to take with me three men to assist in making those arrests. This of course will be some slight expense to the State, without which I am unable to operate.

I hardly think it safe to entrust my business to the Sumner Co Sheriff as I think that possibly he might convey the intelligence to them and thereby give the offenders an opportunity to escape.

Yours Very
Chas E. Bassett [4]

The financial aid which Bassett requested was not forthcoming. On May 1 Governor Osborn's secretary replied:

Chas. E. Bassett, Esq.
Dodge City, Kansas.

Dear Sir:---

The Governor directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 28th ult. Though he is decidedly anxious that the parties who illegally executed young Callaham should be brought to justice, there is no public fund from which the expense of their re-capture can be defrayed. It is the duty of the local authorities to execute the law, and the Governor hopes that the County Board will provide the necessary means.

Yours Truly,
Ward Burlingame,
Private Sec'y. [5]

Further research has not disclosed the outcome of the Callaham case.

Little is known of Bassett's service as sheriff of Ford county from May, 1876, until the spring of 1877, when issues of Dodge City newspapers begin to appear regularly in the State Historical Society's files. The first known newspaper item which credited Bassett with having performed an official duty was in the Dodge City Times, March 31, 1877:

A slight horse-thief scare pervaded this morning. From what we learn it appears that twelve horses were missed from Mr. J. W. Miller's cattle camp on Crooked yesterday. Supposing they had been stolen, the authorities were informed, and Sheriff Bassett and Marshal [Lawrence E.] Deger started out this morning to see what they could find. About three miles west of town they discovered the horses, but no thieves were in sight.

Short items telling of Bassett going after a jewel thief, visiting Harvey county on official business, etc., appeared from time to time but apparently nothing of major importance happened which involved the sheriff of Ford county until September, 1877. On September 18 six men robbed a Union Pacific train of $60,000 at Big Springs, Neb. It was reported that the bandits were headed south and Sheriff Bassett set out to catch them. Here is the story from the Times, September 29, 1877:


A dispatch was received by Sheriff Bassett last Wednesday from Superintendent Morse, stating that the train robbers had started south and would probably cross the A.T.& S.F. near Lakin. Accordingly Bassett, under-sheriff [William B. "Bat"] Masterson and John Webb went west on the Thursday morning train: but they heard nothing of the robbers and returned Friday morning, thinking it more likely that the robbers would cross near Dodge. A few hours before they arrived news was brought into town that five men had crossed the railroad going south about thirty miles west of here. As soon as preparations could be made, Bassett, Masterson, and Webb started southwest on horseback, intending to try to intercept the robbers if possible. Assistant Marshal Ed. Masterson and Deputy Sheriff [Miles] Mix went west the same day to find out what they could about the men who crossed the road. They could learn nothing of any importance except that the men had been seen on Thursday morning, but no one had taken particular notice of them. Masterson and Mix returned the same evening.

Nothing has been heard from Sheriff Bassett and his men since they started from here yesterday morning.

Quite likely the Bassett posse did not catch up with the bandits for no further word of the chase was printed.

Later, Sheriff Bassett was embarrassed by a jail break, as the Dodge City Times reported October 27:


Ford County's Only Jail Bird Plumes His Pinions And Takes Flight

. . . When Sheriff Bassett heard that his bird had flown he looked as sorrow-stricken as if he had lost his dearest friend, and immediately sought to find his prodigal and return him to his keeper, but George was still on the wing at last accounts. The following card shows that the sheriff means business:

Fifty Dollars Reward -- Broke Jail

The above reward will be paid for the apprehension of Geo. W. Wilson, who broke jail at this place on the night of October 22d. Wilson is 5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes, good looking, straight built, 22 years old, small mustache and goatee, has a scar from a pistol shot in his back, wore dark clothes and a wide-rimmed hat.

Chas. E. Bassett,
Sheriff Ford county, Kansas.

In December, while still sheriff, Bassett received an additional law enforcement duty. "Sheriff Bassett has been appointed by Mayor [James H.] Kelley to assist Marshal [Edward J.] Masterson in preserving order and decorum in the city. Mr. Bassett has had thorough training, and is a good man for the place," said the Times, December 15, 1877. Bassett's salary in this position was the same as the marshal's, $75 per month. [6]

Limited by the state constitution, Bassett could not run for a successive third regular term as sheriff. On January 14, 1878, he was replaced by William B. Masterson who had been elected on November 6. One of Bat's first acts as sheriff of Ford county was to appoint Bassett his under sheriff. [7]

In February and March, 1878, Bassett spent much of his time pursuing men who had attempted to hold up a Santa Fe train at Kinsley on January 27. Since he was, in this episode, the subordinate of Bat Masterson the full account will be given in the section on W. B. Masterson.

Early in April, 1878, three men from George Grant's English colony at Victoria came to Dodge to join Mayor James H. Kelley, Charles Bassett, and James Martin in a buffalo hunt. The party left Dodge April 4 and headed for a spot 75 miles southwest where they expected to find bison. They were gone about a week. When they returned Bassett found that City Marshal Edward J. Masterson had been killed by drunken cowboys. The city council of Dodge lost little time in appointing Assistant Marshal Bassett to the higher position and shortly thereafter he was given a salary increase to $100 per month. [8]

During the summer of 1878 Deputy United States Marshal H. T. McCarty was shot and killed in the Long Branch saloon; Cowboy George Hoy was shot by the Dodge City police and in September the cross state journey of Dull Knife's band of Cheyenne Indians threw the town into a frenzy of excitement. Toward the end of the cattle season Fannie Keenan, alias Dora Hand, was shot and killed. City Marshal-Under Sheriff Bassett participated in the pursuit and capture of Miss Keenan's alleged murderer, James Kennedy, but this tale, again, properly belongs to the sheriff of Ford county and details of the chase may be found under W. B. Masterson.

In reporting the January term of the Ford county district court the Dodge City Times, January 11, 1879, had this to say concerning the efficiency of the county peace officers:

The large criminal calendar suggests the "probability" of an "endeavor" on the part of the officers to do their duty. To an unprejudiced person, somebody has been making things lively. Sheriff Bat Masterson, Under Sheriff Bassett, and Deputies [William] Duffy and James Masterson, have evidently earned the highest praise accorded to them for their vigilance and prompt action in the arrest of offenders of the law.

On February 15 Bassett, Sheriff Masterson and others were at Fort Leavenworth to pick up seven Cheyenne prisoners from the military authorities. The Indians, members of Dull Knife's band, were accused of committing atrocities during their September, 1878, flight across Kansas and were to be taken to Dodge City for trial. Further details may be found under W. B. Masterson.

April 5, 1879, saw one of Dodge's more famous killings and City Marshal Bassett played a role in the story as reported by the Ford County Globe on April 8:



There is seldom witnessed in any civilized town or country such a scene as transpired at the Long Branch saloon, in this city, last Saturday evening, resulting in the killing of Levi Richardson, a well known freighter, of this city, by a gambler named Frank Loving.

For several months Loving has been living with a woman toward whom Richardson seems to have cherished tender feelings, and on one or two occasions previous to this which resulted so fatally, they have quarreled and even come to blows. Richardson was a man who had lived for several years on the frontier, and though well liked in many respects, he had cultivated habits of bold and daring, which are always likely to get a man in trouble. Such a disposition as he possessed might be termed bravery by many, and indeed we believe he was the reverse of a coward. He was a hard working, industrious man, but young and strong and reckless.

Loving is a man of whom we know but very little. He is a gambler by profession; not much of a rowdy, but more of the cool and desperate order, when he has a killing on hand. He is about 25 years old. Both, or either of these men, we believe, might have avoided this shooting if either had possessed a desire to do so. But both being willing to risk their lives, each with confidence in himself, they fought because they wanted to fight. As stated in the evidence below, they met, one said "I don't believe you will fight." The other answered "try me and see," and immediately both drew murderous revolvers and at it they went, in a room filled with people, the leaden missives flying in all directions. Neither exhibited any sign of a desire to escape the other, and there is no telling how long the fight might have lasted had not Richardson been pierced with bullets and Loving's pistol left without a cartridge. Richardson was shot in the breast, through the side and through the right arm. It seems strange that Loving was not hit, except a slight scratch on the hand, as the two men were so close together that their pistols almost touched each other. Eleven shots were fired, six by Loving and five by Richardson. Richardson only lived a few moments after the shooting. Loving was placed in jail to await the verdict of the coroner's jury, which was "self defense," and he was released. Richardson has not relatives in this vicinity. He was from Wisconsin. About twenty eight years old.

Together with all the better class of our community we greatly regret this terrible affair. We do not believe it is a proper way to settle difficulties, and we are positive it is not according to any law, human or divine. But if men must continue to persist in settling their disputes with fire arms we would be in favor of the dueling system, which would not necessarily endanger the lives of those who might be passing up or down the street attending to their own business.

We do not know that there is cause to censure the police, unless it be to urge upon them the necessity of strictly enforcing the ordinance preventing the carry of concealed weapons. Neither of these men had a right to carry such weapons. Gamblers, as a class, are desperate men. They consider it necessary in their business that they keep up their fighting reputation, and never take a bluff. On no account should they be allowed to carry deadly weapons....

The newspaper then gave the testimonies of individuals who had knowledge of the shooting but since they are so similar we give here only those of Adam Jackson, bartender at the Long Branch, City Marshal Bassett, and Deputy Sheriff William Duffey.

Adam Jackson, bartender at the Long Branch, testified as follows:

"I was in the Long Branch saloon about 8 or 9 o'clock Saturday evening. I know Levi Richardson. He was in the saloon just before the fuss, standing by the stove. He started to go out and went as far as the door when Loving came in at the door. Richardson turned and followed back into the house. Loving sat down on the hazard table. Richardson came and sat near him on the same table. Then Loving got up, making some remark to Richardson, could not understand what it was. Richardson was sitting on the table at the time, and Loving standing up. Loving says to Richardson: 'If you have anything to say about me why don't you come and say it to my face like a gentleman, and not to my back, you dam son of a bitch.' Richardson then stood up and said: 'You wouldn't fight anything, you dam___' could not here the rest. Loving said 'you try me and see.' Richardson pulled his pistol first, and Loving also drew a pistol. Three or four shot were fired when Richardson fell by the billiard table. Richardson did not fire after he fell. He fell on his hands and knees. No shots were fired after Richardson fell. No persons were shooting except the two mentioned. Loving's pistol snapped twice and I think Richardson shot twice before Loving's pistol was discharged.

A. A. Jackson. . . .

Chas. E. Bassett testified: "When I first heard the firing I was at Beatty & Kelley's saloon. Ran up to the Long Branch as fast as I could. Saw Frank Loving, Levi Richardson and Duffey. Richardson was dodging and running around the billiard table. Loving was also running and dodging around the table. I got as far as the stove when the shooting had about ended. I caught Loving's pistol. Think there was two shots fired after I got into the room, am positive there was one. Loving fired that shot, to the best of my knowledge. Did not see Richardson fire any shot, and did not see him have a pistol. I examined the pistol which was shown me as the one Richardson had. It contained five empty shells. Richardson fell while I was there. Whether he was shot before or after I came in am unable to say. I think the shots fired after I came in were fired by Loving at Richardson. Richardson fell immediately after the shot I heard. Did not see any other person shoot at Richardson. Did not see Duffey take Richardson's pistol. Do not know whether Loving knew that Richardson's pistol had been taken away from him. There was considerable smoke in the room. Loving's pistol was a Remington, No. 44 and was empty after shooting.

Chas. E. Bassett

Wm. Duffey testified: "I was at the Long Branch Saloon. I know Levi Richardson, who is now dead. I know 'cock-eyed Frank' (Loving). Both were there at the time. I heard no words pass between them. They had fired several shots when Frank fell by the stove. I supposed that he was shot. I then had a scuffle with Richardson, to get his pistol, and threw him back on some chairs. Succeeded in getting his pistol. There might have been a shot fired by one or the other while we were scuffling. Cannot say whether Richardson had been shot previous to that time, but think he had, as he was weak and I handled him easily. Richardson then got up and went toward the billiard table and fell. I can't swear whether any shots were fired at Richardson by Loving after Richardson was disarmed. Don't think Loving knew I had taken the pistol from Richardson. It was but a few seconds after I took Richardson's pistol that he fell." William Duffey. . . .

Five months later City Marshal Bassett again disarmed the victor of a fatal quarrel. The Ford County Globe carried the story on September 9, 1879:


Dodge City has added another item to her history of blood, and rum has found another victim.

Yesterday afternoon B. Martin and A. H. Webb became involved in a dispute in a saloon on Main street. Many complimentary allusions to the parentage, habits, and previous history of the parties, usually passed during such scenes in Dodge circles, were freely bandied between the two, ending by Webb knocking Martin down. Martin, who was a remarkably small man, generally inoffensive and timid, made an apology to Webb for some of his strongest epithets, and then went out and sat upon a bench in front of his little tailor shop adjoining Henry Sturm's saloon. Webb seemed to be very little placated by the submission of his little antagonist. He walked up Main street, threatening more vengeance at every step. He went into Zimmerman's hardware store and asked Mr. Connor to loan him a pistol, but he refused. He then went to his house on the hill, saddled his horse, got his Winchester rifle and returned to Main street. He hitched his horse at Straeter's corner, walked to where Martin was seated, raised the rifle with both hands and brought the barrel of it down on Martin's head with terrific force. Martin fell like a log and never was conscious afterward.

Webb then jumped for his horse to make off. The murderous blow, however, had been seen by several persons, who ran to prevent the escape. Marshal Bassett seized him and took away his rifle, which was found to be loaded and cocked. He was first taken to the calaboose, but a crowd gathering quickly, among whom were some who favored lynching, the sheriff deemed it prudent to remove the prisoner to the county jail. . . .

On October 21, 1879, the Ford County Globe told of another railway robbery:


At 1:45 Wednesday morning, Mr. J. M. Thatcher, Gen'l Ag't Express Co., received a telegram informing him of the express train at Las Vegas having been taken in by masked robbers. With Messrs. [Harry E.] Gryden, Bassett and [Chalky M.] Beeson he immediately left for Las Vegas. From Judge Gryden, who returned this morning, we learn the following particulars.

The night being rainy five men entered the Express car immediately on leaving Las Vegas. Covering the conductor Mr. Turner, the messenger Mr. Monroe, and the baggage master, and compelling the messenger to open the safe "dam quick." The booty consisted of two $1,000 bills, $85.50 in C. O. D. packages and $1,000 in time checks of the A.T.& S.F.R.R., a package of $245 was overlooked. The three revolvers of the conductor, messenger and baggage master was also taken from them and all the lanterns, the parties then left the train without stopping it. Two of them have through the efficiency of Mr. Thatcher been arrested at Las Vegas, the others are known and will be caught. It was a neat and prompt job; but between Messrs. Thatcher and Judge Gryden they will, we have no doubt, be landed in the penitentiary.

On November 4, 1879, the Globe reported that "Ex-Sheriff Charles E. Bassett returned last week from New Mexico, where he has been for the past ten days in the interest of the Adams express company." The day the Globe came out the city council met and appointed James Masterson city marshal to replace Bassett who had by then resigned. [9]

On December 23 Bassett was reported to be in St. Louis, Mo., but by January 6, 1880, when the January term of the Ford county district court convened, he was back in Dodge for duty as deputy sheriff. [10] His name appeared in the newspapers a few times in minor items which stated that he took prisoners to the penitentiary, but apparently nothing of note happened to him for the remainder of his stay in Dodge City. On April 27, 1880, the Ford County Globe noted his exit from town: "Ex-Sheriff Chas. E. Bassett, accompanied by Mysterious Dave [Mather] and two other prospectors, started out last week in search of 'greener fields and pastures new.' They went in a two-horse wagon, after the style in the days of '49." The Times, May 1, stated that he was headed for the Gunnison country.

The newspapers of Dodge City did not mention Bassett again for over 16 months. On September 13, 1881, the Globe noticed his return in this article: "Charles E. Beassett, ex-sheriff of Ford county, and formerly city marshal of Dodge City -- one of the old timers -- arrived the city last Tuesday after an absence of a year and a half. Charley looks as natural as life, wears good clothes, and says Texas is suffering from dry weather." On September 8, two days after his return, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for sheriff, [11] But two weeks later he was in Kansas City and apparently planning to stay, judging from this item in the Times, September 22, 1881: "Hon. C.E. Bassett, a well known cattle man of Kansas and Texas, returned to the city yesterday after a brief stay at Dodge City. He will remain here for some time. -- Kansas City Journal. Jim Kelley has charge of Mr. Bassett's herds during his absence."

Another 18 months passed before the name of Charles E. Bassett again appeared in the Dodge City newspapers. The Ford County Globe of March 20, 1883, reported that he had been in Dodge City from Kansas City "the first of last week and spent a day or two in our city visiting old-time friends."

Bassett was again in Dodge City in June, 1883, along with several other prominent Western gun fighters, to aid Luke Short in his quarrel with the city authorities. (For further information see the section on Short.)

Twice more, on January 1,1884,12 and April 7, 1885,13 Bassett was mentioned as being in Dodge City. No further contemporary information has been found on the Dodge City career of Charles E. Bassett.


1. "Ford County, Briefing of Commissioners' Journals" (transcribed by the Historical Records Survey of the Work Projects Administration, in archives division, Kansas Historical Society) pp. 2, 4, 18.
2. Topeka Daily Commonwealth, April 21, 1876.
3. "Governors' Correspondence," archives division, Kansas Historical Society.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Dodge City Times, January 5, 1878.
7. Ibid., January 12, 19, 1878.
8. Ibid., April 6-20, May 4, 11, 1878; Ford County Globe, April 16, 1878.
9. Dodge City Times, November 15, 1879.
10. Ford County Globe, December 23, 1879; Dodge City Times, January 10, 1880.
11. Dodge City Times, September 8, 1881.
12. Ford County Globe.
13. The Globe Livestock Journal.

( ___-___ )

On June 10, 1882, P. W. Beamer was named to the Dodge City police force. The Ford County Globe, June 13, 1882, reported the appointment in this article:
We congratulate our city officials in their wise and judicious selection of police officers last Saturday.
P. W. Beamer, as city marshal, is a good selection --- in fact one of the best that could be made at this time. Mr. Beamer is one of our best citizens --- an earnest, unassuming citizen --- temperate in his habits, and a person especially suited for the place. Lee Harland and Clark Chipman, as policemen, are both nervy fellows and are, if we do not misjudge them, the proper men for the positions named.
The mayor has adopted a set of rules for the especial guidance and observance of the police force, which, if carried out, will be an additional incentive to have officers perform their duties. He insists that these rules must be observed or he will speedily remove any officer that violates them.
The rules which Mayor A. B. Webster adopted were printed in the Dodge City Times, June 22, 1882:
- 1. Each and every member of the Police force shall devote his whole time and attention to the business of the department, and is hereby prohibited from following any other calling. They must at all times be prepared to act immediately on notice that their services are required.
- 2. Punctual attendance and conformity to the rule of the department will be strictly enforced.
- 3. Each and every member must be civil, quiet and orderly; he must maintain decorum, command of temper and discretion.
- 4. They must not compound any offense committed or withdraw any complaint unless authorized by the Mayor.
- 5. All officers on duty must wear the star or shield on the outside garment on the left breast.
- 6. No member of the police force while on duty shall drink any intoxicating liquor or allow any to be introduced into the city jail.
- 7. No member shall leave the city or be absent from duty without permission from the mayor.
- 8. They must not render assistance in civil cases except to prevent an immediate breach of the peace, or quell a disturbance.
- 9. Every member will be furnished with a copy of these regulations and is expected to familiarize himself with the same and also with the city ordinances.
10. The members of the police force will as soon as practicable after making an arrest report the same to the City Attorney and execute, under his directions, the proper papers, and promptly attend the police court at the hour set for trial of causes.
11. Every officer will be held responsible for the proper discharge of his duties; following the advice of others will be no excuse, unless he be a superior officer.
12. The City Attorney will furnish information on legal matters on any officer's request, and will be responsible to the Mayor and Council for their correctness.
13. The presence of any infectious disease must be promptly reported to the Mayor.
14. A memorandum of all property taken from prisoners by the marshal or police, must be handed to the City Attorney, to be by him filed with a note of final disposition in the police court.
A. B. Webster, Mayor.

Less than three weeks after assuming the office of city marshal Beamer quit. "During the past week City Marshal P. W, Beamer handed to Mayor Webster his resignation as City Marshal of Dodge City the same to take effect at once. Just what induced Mr. Beamer to take this step we were unable to learn. Mayor Webster assumes the duties of the office until such time as he may be enabled to fill the office," reported the Globe on June 27, 1882.


John Behrens' appointment as policeman on the Wichita force was confirmed by the city council on May 6, 1874. [1]

On July 24, 1874, he assisted in jailing a prisoner who had overcome his guard while on a street gang. After his recapture, another officer began to beat the prisoner but was stopped Behrens. (For the complete story see the section on William Dibbs.)

In October, 1874, Behrens and Wyatt Earp, at the instance of a Wichita merchant, collected an unpaid bill at gunpoint some 75 miles from the city. (The article reporting this incident is included in the section on Earp.)

Behrens was promoted to assistant city marshal on April 21, 1875, at a salary of $75 per month. [2]

In May "Behrens and Earp picked up a horse thief by the name of Compton from Coffey County . . . with the property in his possession," and in July "John Behrens picked up a deserter from the 4th U. S. Cavalry on Friday. . . . [3]

Marshal Mike Meagher and Assistant Marshal Behrens were credited with the arrest of three thieves on November 5, 1875. The Wichita City Eagle, November 11, reported that "Wm. Potts and two colored men were arrested here last Friday by city Marshal, Mike Meagher and Assistant John Behrens, charged stealing eight yoke of cattle and two wagons at Fort Sill, which property was found in their possession. The parties were lodged in jail." The Wichita Beacon, gave Wyatt Earp and Meagher credit for this arrest. [4]

Also in its issue of November 11, 1875, the Eagle reported that "Ed. Hays was arrested and confined in jail Monday evening by Marshal Behrens, on information received by letter from Great Bend. Hays is charged with passing counterfeit money," The Beacon, omitting mention of Behrens, gave Marshal Meagher credit for the Hays arrest. [5]

The Wichita Weekly Beacon, on November 17, 1875, reversed Itself on who arrested Potts and Hays while complimenting Behrens for his efficiency:

While we are not aware that Deputy Marshal Behrens cares a fig for official honors, yet when he is justly entitled to credit it is due him to have the same. Far be it from us to withhold from so efficient an officer what belongs to him, much less give the praise to others. We say this much without the knowledge of Mr. Behrens, in order to set ourselves right in the matter of several arrests made last week; one of them Ed Hays, the other Bill Potts and his two associates. Deputy Marshal Behrens spotted all these parties, arrested Hays, himself; and traced the others to their lair, assisting Mike Meagher in the arrests.

The Eagle, on January 27, 1876, reported that:

Mr. John Behrens, deputy marshal, arrested two men on Tuesday afternoon, charged with stealing 136 skunk skins, one cow hide and one coon skin, from Messrs. Hale & Co. of Hutchinson. They started from Hutchinson with an ox team, but left it with a farmer on the road whom they hired to bring them with their plunder to this city. They gave their names as Smith and Kirk-patrick.

In the list of salaries paid for the month of April, 1876, John Behrens' name does not appear although he had received a full salary for March. At a meeting of the city council on May. 22, 1876, that body heard a recommendation of the police committee that "Script of W. Earp & John Behrens be with held, until all moneys collected by them for the City, be turned over to the City Treasurer. . . ." [6] How this was settled is not known since this was the last contemporary item found concerning John Behrens.


1. "Proceedings of the Governing Body," Records of the City of Wichita, Journal A, p. 376.
2. Ibid., Journal B, pp. 44, 55, 62, 66, 71, 75, 78, 85, 90, 96, 100; Wichita Weekly Beacon, April 28, 1875.
3. Wichita City Eagle, May 6, 1875; Wichita Weekly Beacon, July 28, 1875; see, also, section on Wyatt Earp.
4. November 10, 1875; see a reprint of this article in the section on Wyatt Earp.
5. November 10, 1875; see a reprint of this article in the section on Mike Meagher.
6. "Proceedings of the Governing Body". Records of the City of Wichita, Journal B, pp. 100, 112, 115.


"Ham" Bell was appointed deputy United States marshal for Ford county about May 22, 1880, succeeding W. B. Masterson.(1) There are contemporary records of his reappointment about May 30, 1882, and again about November 5, 1885.(2) At least one person, however, held the position between these latter dates.(3)

Only two references were found concerning his performance of the duties of the federal office. The first appeared in the Ford County Globe on April 11, 1882:


April 1st, 1882.
. . . We are sorry to learn that a controversy has arose between Mr. Teasing and Mr. Shrader with regard to a tree-claim near "The Trail." It seems that Mr. Teasing filed on aforesaid claim about four years ago, and not complying with the requirements of the law (having skipped the country in advance of Bat Masterson's six-shooter), Mr. Shrader jumped said claim and did plow and sow to wheat ten acres. Then comes Mr. Teasing, and refusing to compromise, plowed under the ten acres of wheat and planted the same to trees. The latest reports are that Mr. Teasing skipped the country again, between two days, in fear of U. S. Marshal Bell. How this will terminate we do not know. Teasing, what is the matter with you; can't you behave yourself any more?

The second is from the Globe of October 23, 1883:

-- Deputy U. S. Marshal H. B. Bell, of this city, returned Friday morning from Buffalo Park, Kansas, where he arrested Charles Ellsworth, better know as "Arkansaw," who it is supposed murdered Ellsworth Schuttleman in the latter part of August, who at the time was employed by Mr. Johns. "Arkansaw" was at the time employed at the V- ranch. It is also supposed that he was the party that stole a horse from J.W Carter on the Saw Log, as the horse was found and had been sold by "Arkansaw," and the bill of sale is now in the hands of H. B. Bell.


1. Dodge City Times, May 22, 1880.
2. Ibid., June 1, 1882; Ford County Globe May 30, 1882; Dodge City Times, November 5, 1885.
3. Fred Singer was appointed about October 8, 1885. See the section on Singer.


C. F. Betts was appointed city marshal of Caldwell on June 30, 1880, [1] apparently as an interim appointee while the city officials of Caldwell, including Mayor Mike Meagher and Marshal William Horseman, were under arrest for suspected complicity in the murder of George Flatt who had been killed June 19. Betts must have served only until about July 8 for on that date the Caldwell Post reported that the "old police force resume their former places -- everything is quiet." (See the section on Mike Meagher for the complete story of the arrested officials.)


1. Caldwell Post, July 1, 1880.

(1829- __ )

The Wichita City Eagle, June 11, 1874, reported that "Mr. Botts has been added to the police force, which business he understands, having been deputy marshal of Jacksonville, Illinois."

In July, while attempting to arrest a man for carrying a gun in the city, Botts was set upon by a dozen or more armed men and his would-be prisoner released. However, a secret citizens' police came to the rescue and all the gun toters were arrested. The Wichita City Eagle reported the event on July 9, 1874:

A little episode occurred upon our streets on Monday evening which we hope will serve to teach certain roughs and would be bullies who infest this town a lesson. Sam. Botts, one of our policemen, in attempting to enforce the law which says "that no firearms shall be carried within the city," was braved "by some twelve or fourteen fellows who pulled their weapons upon him and prevented him from arresting a man whom he just disarmed. The police alarm was sounded and in a shorter time than it takes to write this, forty or fifty citizens armed with well loaded shot guns and Henry rifles, rushed to the aid of the officers. In the mean time the roughs had taken refuge in hotel. Of course they were arrested, and of course they were taken ;before the police judge and fined, just as they would have been had there been a hundred of them. We have a secret police force, all sworn and armed, numbering we shall not say how many, which was organized in view of an outrage committed by the above class this spring in broad day light upon a principal street, and had it not been just at supper time these defiers of law would have been surprised at the array of armed and determined men that would have confronted them. As it was, but forty or fifty appeared, but they were from among our best and most substantial citizens, many of whom officers of rank in the late war and who consequently know how and dare to use arms when it comes to sustaining the majesty of the law. There is no use talking or caviling about the matter, the laws of this city will and must be enforced and they shall be respected, whether our authorities feel able to so enforce or not. The past two years Texas dealers, cow boys, roughs and gamblers have obeyed our laws and regulations and respected our citizens; and, if they would avoid trouble, it would be well for them to continue to do so. There are no better class of people in the world than our permanent citizens - quiet, orderly, law abiding and moral, but they will not be run over and have their laws and rights trampled under foot, though it become necessary to clear the town of every vestige of the cattle trade upon half a day's notice.

On July 24, while taking a prisoner, who had attempted to escape, back to jail, Botts beat him over the head until he was stopped by Policeman John Behrens. (The article reporting this is reprinted in the section on William Dibbs.)

Apparently Botts made some remonstrance against what Milton Gabel, the editor of the Beacon, had said of his conduct in this matter for in the August 5, 1874, issue of the Beacon Gabel printed this:

. . . With regard to the conduct of Samuel Botts . . . it is claimed by him that he did not strike McGrath, yet he admits that he "chucked him about roughly," and says that under the excitement-coming up as he did after the shooting had begun, and while McGrath was shooting at Dibbs the second time-thinking that Dibbs was fatally wounded, &c., and, in his over zealous efforts to save him, etc. etc., he treated McGrath more roughly than he intended to, and, under the excitement, and what he considers aggravating circumstances, more so than he otherwise would have done, and thinks that should at least partially excuse the rough treatment, which we characterized brutality, and of which we made mention in Wednesday's article. This may in a measure palliate the offense, but it shows inefficiency, and even this I think will not justify the mistreatment of a prisoner disarmed, and on the way to the calaboose, and I will not alter my judgment on this matter as heretofore' expressed. I gave the facts as they came under by own observation, together with the evidence of others, the truth of which can be substantiated by sworn statements of at least seven witnesses . . . [1]

The last contemporary mention found concerning Samuel Botts was the payment of $42 for his services as policeman for "part of April," 1875.(2) At the rate which other policemen were being paid ($60 per month) this would indicate that Botts was on the force it for about 21 days in April, 1875.


1. A full report on this incident will be found in the section on William Dibbs.
2. "Proceedings of the Governing Body," Records of the City of Wichita, Journal B, p. 55.


Charles G. Bratton served four days as a special policeman on the Wichita police force, probably in February, 1872. For work he was paid $8.00 on February 21. [1]

On December 22, 1874, while assisting the city marshal Burlingame to take a drunken butcher to jail, Bratton was stabbed and killed. The following article appeared in the Wichita Eagle, January 7, 1875:

Charley Bratton, a former policeman of Wichita, under Mayor Alien, was brutally murdered at Burlingame last week, by a butcher named Dan Wortz, Wortz was drunk and abusing his wife, Bratton, who was a city officer, interfered, when he was stabbed twice, both wounds being severe enough to produce death. The weapon used was a butcher knife. One stab severed a rib and sank deep into the kidney. Young Bratton was a quiet boy. He came with his parents, when quite a small boy. The murderer is in custody and will go up for life. [2]


1. "Proceedings of the Governing Body," Records of the City of Wichita, Journal A, p.148.
2. See, also, the Topeka Daily Commonwealth, December 27, 1874.


The earliest mention yet found of Jack Bridges as an officer of the law was in a letter from Maj. George Gibson of Fort Hays to Gov. James M. Harvey, dated October 3, 1869. Gibson stated that Deputy United States Marshal Bridges and his assistant had arrested one Bob Connors for the murder of a drover near Pond City and had lodged their prisoner in the fort's guard house to protect him from violence in Hays City. (A copy of the letter is reprinted in the section on James Butler Hickok.)

The 1870 United States census listed Bridges as being a deputy United States marshal in Hays. Reporting as of June 25, the census showed Bridges as 31 years old, holding real estate valued at $1,800. He was born "at sea."

Bridges next turned up in Wichita in February, 1871. He arrived there well reinforced to arrest J. E. Ledford. Resistance was offered and Ledford was killed. Here is the story from the El Dorado Walnut Valley Times, March 3, 1871:


We have just learned the particulars of an unfortunate affair that occurred at Wichita on Tuesday afternoon the 26th of February, at about four o'clock. It seems that Deputy U. S. Marshal Jack Bridges, and Lee Stewart, a scout, with a party of 25 soldiers under command of Capt. Randall of the 5th U. S. cavalry from Fort Harker, came to Wichita to arrest J. E. Ledford, the proprietor of the Harris House at that place, on the charge of resisting a U.S. officer.

The troops came into town with a rush and immediately surrounded the hotel. Ledford seems to have had an idea that they were there to arrest him and secreted himself in an out building. Bridges, Lee Stewart and a Lieutenant discovered Ledford in the out building and advanced to the door with their pistols in hand; Ledford seeing them advancing immediately threw open the door and came out; both parties immediately commenced firing, after emptying their revolvers at Ledford the three persons, Bridges, Lee Stewart, ,and the Lieutenant, turned and ran; Bridges, being badly wounded fell fainting; Ledford walked across the street into Dagner's store, mortally wounded. Dr. Milliard immediately examined Ledfords wounds and pronounced them mortal, he being shot twice through the body and twice through the right arm. He was carried into the hotel parlor and lived about a half hour. In a difficulty last summer between Ledford and Bridges on the line of the Kansas Pacific railroad, Ledford gave Bridges a sound threshing, and Bridges is said to have threatened to shoot him on sight. The fatal wound received by Ledford was given him by Lee Stewart, who being behind him shot in the back.

Ledford has had the reputation heretofore of being a wild and reckless man but had recently married a fine young lady at Wichita, and seemed to have settled down and was gaining the good will of all at that place. Deputy U. S. Marshal Walker, who is also Sheriff of Sedgwick County, had recently arrested Ledford on the same charge for which these men proposed to arrest him, and Ledford had given bail for his appearance at the next term of U. S. Court at Topeka. Our informant was an eye witness of the affair we are satisfied that the statements are as near substantially correct as one can give them witnessing so sudden and exciting an affair, the whole of which transpired in a few moments time. This is the first instance of bloodshed violence in the streets of Wichita since its organization all reports to the contrary notwithstanding.

Unfortunately the issue of the Wichita Vidette (then the town's only newspaper) which reported the shooting is missing from the files of the State Historical Society. However, the Vidette of March 11,1871, stated that:

The Walnut Valley Times and the Emporia News both publish accounts of the "Wichita Murder," in which they give substantially the same statement of the affair as published by us. The News says: "The impression prevails that there was no occasion for the arrest of Ledford, and that pretext of arresting him was only a cloak for the premeditated intention of killing him.

Jack Bridges disappeared from the pages of the cowtown newspapers until June 29, 1882, when the Dodge City Times announced that "Jack Bridges, well-known by old timers, will receive the appointment of City Marshal of this city. He is now in Colorado, and has telegraphed Mayor Webster that he will accept the appointment, and will be in Dodge City about July 10th." Bridges was sworn in on July 8, 1882. The Dodge City Times commented on his appointment in its issue of July 13, 1882:

Jack Bridges was installed as City Marshal on Saturday last. Marshal Bridges was for a number of years Deputy U. S. Marshal in Western Kansas. He is a cool, brave and determined officer, and will make an excellent city marshal. Jack's friends speak highly of him and of his integrity and bravery. He has done some fine service for the government, and upon every occasion, has acquitted himself with honor. He is a pleasant man socially, and has courage for any occasion.

At about the same time Bridges assumed the office of city marshal the police force of Dodge City doffed its frontier clothing and donned newly acquired blue uniforms. "There is a metropolitan air in their manner," said the Times, July 13, 1882.

Bridges' appointment caused many to reminisce about the Ledford shooting. On July 20, 1882, the Times brought the subject up in this article:


Early settlers remember Ledford, the chief of a gang of horse thieves, counterfeiters and desperadoes that traversed the wild regions of Kansas, the Indian Territory and the Panhandle. Jack Bridges, City Marshal of Dodge City, at that time was Deputy U. S. Marshal. He caused the breaking up and of the gang, and in the capture of Ledford a desperate encounter took place....

There were some, however, who felt that Dodge had made a poor choice for city marshal. One of these was the editor of the Caldwell Commercial who published this attack, which the Ford County Globe reprinted on July 25, 1882:

The Times Dodge City says that Jack Bridges has been appointed City Marshal of that town. Jack, like Wild Bill and Bat. Masterson, belongs to the killer class and it is only a question of time when he will lay down with his boots on. Jack might have made a respectable citizen at one time, but he got to running with a psalm-singing U.S. Marshal Jim Lane and Sid Clarke, shoved off upon Kansas at one time, and learned some of the said Marshal's pious tricks. He has never been worth a straw since. Still, if the Dodge folks think they have found a treasure in Jack, it isn't for us to find fault. -- Caldwell Kansas Commercial.
Yes we need him in our business [the Globe added].

Then the Dodge City Times, on July 27, joined in with a vigorous counterattack:

Caldwell, through her newspapers, is jealous of Dodge City. The latest exhibition of jealousy appears in the Caldwell Commercial, edited by W. B. Hutchison. It is a scurrilous attack on Jack Bridges, City Marshal of Dodge City. Caldwell is incapable of self-government. Three city marshals have been cowardly slain in that city. Yet Hutchison animadverts on Dodge City. A friend comes to the rescue of Bridges, and furnishes us with the following:


That the venom of the reptile, the sliminess of the toad and the odoriferous qualities of the skunk cling to them till death, was never more clearly illustrated than in the case of W. B. Hutchison and his article on the City Marshal of Dodge City. We happen to know the why and wherefore of this attack on Jack Bridges; we can now look back to the year 1867-8, when the said Hutchison, a Justice of the Peace, was the recognized backer, go-between and supporter of the infamous horse thieves of Ellis county. We remember too, how Jack Bridges, almost single handed, drove them from the country; how Ledford, Black and Strapp, attempted to assassinate him and almost succeeded; how at last they fled from the country accompanied by their companion Mr. Hutchison. How Bridges exterminated the gang, except Mr. H., whose Uriah Heap nature and tactics shielded him from Bridges and the law, and then we do not wonder after all that Hutchison's natural traits of character assert themselves and that he makes this scurrilous attack upon him. Jack is here and should Mr. H., mourning his friends and companions, wish to interview him, he can readily find him. The old citizens of Ellis county many of whom are here, well remember the gang, their dressing as Indians while making a dash on a herd of horses, and the fact that Hutchison was one of the boys.


Apparently all the editors concerned felt it was time to let well enough alone, for the matter disappeared from the pages of the press.

In September, 1882, Bridges was involved in this interesting case on which the Globe reported, September 12:


On last Thursday a gentleman presented himself at the Wright House and asked for board and lodging for himself and wife; a room was assigned to him, and he left for a few minutes to bring in the woman he claimed as his wife. While he was gone Mr, Lybrand selected the room and noted on register, Mr. and Mrs. ______ and noting the number of the room. When the person returned he registered after the Mr. and Mrs., 'H. G. Petty,' the couple were shown to their room and remained there until Sunday, after the arrival of the three o'clock train, which brought with it a person by the name of F. Ruble, who at once made his mission known, saying he was in search of a recreant wife who he had reason to believe had come to this city in company with some other person. He closely scrutinized the hotel registers and failed to find anyone registered in the name he was looking for, but on making inquiries at the Wright House concerning certain individuals he was assured by some of the employees that a couple were occupying rooms there that answered the description he gave. This afforded enough clue 'for him and at once ascended the stairs and proceeded to said room and knocked for admission. It appears that his approach had been noticed by the occupants and the door was barred against him. The loud talk brought Mr. Lybrand to the scene, who demanded to know the cause of all this disturbance. Mr. Ruble explained and told the landlord that his wife was in the room and that he wished to see her. Mr. Lybrand informed him that he would send for the city marshal and have the whole outfit arrested. At the same time preparations were going on inside for a hasty exit through the window. Sheets and quilts were tied together and the fellow made his descent and landed safe and sound, after which he made hasty steps across the hill, hotly pursued by the city marshal [Bridges] who brought him back to the city and took him before his honor Judge Burns, before whom a complaint was made against the individual for disturbing the peace and quiet of the city.'

Court was convened (although Sunday) and all the parties were brought face to face, all being charged alike. The court was promptly opened and the charge made, and the court prefaced his remarks by saying "that on account of its being Sunday he could enter no plea from either of said parties except the plea of guilty." Mr. Petty's case being the first called he plead guilty as charged, and the court before passing sentence insisted on knowing some few facts and proceeded to examine witnesses, and finally assessed a fine of twenty-five dollars and cost against number one. This he said he would not pay, but rather than to be further annoyed paid the fine. The other two Mr. Ruple and his supposed wife were called on to plead, both of whom answered not guilty, and their cases were continued to Monday, both being required to give bond in the sum of one hundred dollars each, which bonds we learn were readily given.

Monday morning when court opened the lone and deserted woman was the only one of the trio to make their appearance in court, who was fined fifteen dollars and cost. What became of Ruple and his case we cannot say. Petty took the first train out of town, and the only one remaining is the woman, who is till here and disclaims being the wife of either.

In the spring of 1883 Bridges was caught in the middle of the "Dodge City War." Being city marshal he was directly responsible to Mayor L. E. Deger who was one of the protagonists in the affair. Finally Bridges declared that he was "as much the marshal for one party as the other" [1] and seemingly was content to remain astride the fence; The full story of that "war," including the role of Jack Bridges, may be found in the section on Luke Short.

On July 6, 1883, the city council of Dodge City increased the Marshal's salary. The Globe, on July 17, 1883, reported the change in this article:

The City Council on the 6th inst. passed an ordinance which gives the City Marshal a salary of $150 per month and the assistant marshal $125 per month, and on the following day they considered it a retractive ordinance and instead of allowing the salaries as prescribed by the old ordinance $100 for marshal and $75 for the assistant marshal!, they allow them each two months' increase salary as prescribed by the new ordinance.

The Nickerson Argosy noticed the salary hike and mentioned some fringe benefits in this item which the Globe copied on July 24, 1883: "Dodge City pays her marshal $150 per month and the assistant marshal $125 per month. Besides this each of them is entitled to kill a cow boy or two each season."

The Dodge City Times, October 4, 1883, reported that "On Monday a lot of drunken cowboys had another hurrah at Coolidge, shooting through doors, windows, etc., and making things lively generally. [Under Sheriff] Fred Singer and Jack Bridges arrested one of the leaders and placed him in jail Tuesday morning."

Frontier judges could also huff and puff as this article from the Ford County Globe, October 23, 1883, clearly shows:

The-case of the State of Kansas vs. Charley Heinz was continued on account of the absence of Jack Bridges, witness for the State, who left for Pueblo the day before the day of trial was set. The court was very indignant and ordered Marshal Bridges to be arrested and brought before His Honor if he returned before court adjourned; and if he made his appearance after court adjourned he was to be arrested and incarcerated in the jail of Ford county and held there until next term of court, and further stated that no writ of habeas corpus would let him out. He wanted it distinctly understood that there was one court in Ford county that could not be trifled with.-Bridges is back, but as yet not under arrest. -- Ed.

Later. -- We learn that the court revoked the order before leaving.

Apparently Marshal Bridges' salary was reduced to its former level in the fall of 1883. In reporting the November 9 meeting of the city council, the Dodge City Times, November 15, 1883, listed his salary as $100 per month.

No further mention of Jack Bridges was found.


1. Topeka Daily Capital, May 17, 1883.


Bill Brooks, marshal of Newton in 1872, was wounded by cowboys in a June melee. On June 14, 1872, the Wichita City Eagle reported the fracas:

Bill Brooks, marshal of Newton, formerly a stage driver between that point and Wichita, was shot three times, on Sunday night last, in an attempt to arrest a couple of Texas men. As near as we can get at the facts, the Texas men were on a spree, and, as a consequence, making it hot for pedestrians. Brooks had run them out of the town, when they turned and fired three shots into him, with what effect may be judged, from the fact that he continued his pursuit for ten miles before he returned to have his wounds dressed, shot passed through his right breast, and the other two were in his limbs. We learn from a driver here that he will recover. Bill has sand enough to best the hour-glass that tries to run him out.

The Kansas Daily Commonwealth of Topeka, June 15, 1872, said that a "party of Texans, fresh from the trail, had corralled the proprietor of a dance-house with their six-shooters, and were carrying things on a high hand, when Marshall Brooks, being sent for, endeavored to preserve the peace. While thus employed, one of the party by the name of Joe Miller, fired at him, the ball striking the collar bone, but inflicting merely a trifling wound...."

No further mention of Brooks as a police officer has been found. However, the Wichita City Eagle, on March 20, 1873, recorded that "Billy Brooks, the whilom Wichita stage driver, is not dead, as was reported, but is on duty in Dodge City." Whether the Eagle meant employment as a police officer or stage driver has not been determined."


The Caldwell Commercial of November 3, 1881, reported that George Brown as well as Mike Meagher and Dan Jones, had been offered the position of Caldwell city marshal. Each declined so John Wilson was finally appointed.

Mike Meagher was killed on December 17, 1881. At the coroner's inquest George Brown was one of the witnesses. The proceedings of this inquest, which the Caldwell Post reported on December 22, will be found in the section on Meagher.

By March, 1882, Brown had apparently accepted the marshalship of Caldwell. The Commercial on March 9, 1882, stated that "since Geo. Brown has been acting as City Marshall, $216 in cash have been collected for fines by the Police Court."

According to the Caldwell police docket, which for 1882 begins with April, Marshal Brown was required to perform his duties mostly upon drunks, gamblers, madams, and prostitutes. In his brief tour of duty no record was found that he encountered more serious crimes until he was shot and killed by cowboys on June 22 in a most gruesome manner. The Caldwell Commercial of June 29; carried the details:


About half past nine o'clock on Thursday morning of last week, the city was alarmed by the report that Geo. Brown, our city Marshal had been shot dead at the Red Light. Proceeding up street, we learned that the killing, had occurred but a few moments before and that the parties engaged in it had barely rode past the COMMERCIAL office which is located on the lower part of Main street, on their way to the Territory, the refuge for every fiend who perpetrates a crime upon the southern border of Kansas.

On going to the Red Light, we found the body of George Brown at the head of the stairs, his face covered with a clot of blood and his brains spattered on the wall and floor of the building, while the gore dripped through the floor to the rooms below. Dr. Hume had been called in and was engaged in washing off the blood in order to ascertain the nature of the wound which had caused Brown's death.

It is useless to give the various stories told as to how the murder occurred, and we shall only state the facts as made up from the statements of different parties.

Shortly after 8 o'clock in the morning, three men, two of them brothers going by the name of Steve and Jess. Green, and another whose name has not been ascertained so far, went to the Red Light. Brown at the time was on main street, engaged in obtaining signatures to a couple of petitions in reference to voting bonds. Some one informed him (as near as can be ascertained) that a man had gone down there armed, and Brown requested Constable [Willis] Metcalf to go down with him, as he (Brown) did not want to go alone. Arriving at the Red Light Brown and Metcalf proceeded up stairs, the former in the lead. On reaching the top of the stairs they found three men one of whom had a pistol in his hand. Brown laid his hand on the man with the pistol and told him to give it up. The latter replied "let go of me," when Brown grasped hold of the fellow's arm and pressed it against the wall. Meantime another man grasped Metcalf by the throat and backed him up into the corner, at the same time telling him to hold up his hands, the order being enforced by another who held a pistol at his head.

Just then another man jumped out of a room across the stairway and to the right of where Brown and the man he was holding stood, and called out "Turn him loose." This seems to have attracted Brown's attention momentarily, but that moment was most fatal to him, for the man whom he held turned his wrist and fired, the ball from the weapon crashing through the Marshal's head, and he fell to the floor dead, without a struggle or a groan.

The man who shot Brown and the other who held Metcalf then ran down stairs, while the fellow who had drawn on Metcalf guarded the retreat. The two former proceeded on up Fifth street to the alley in the rear of the Opera House, followed the alley to a passage between the buildings fronting on Main street, went through the passage, down Main street to the front of the Hardesty corner, where they mounted their horses and rode on down the street toward the Territory.

Fully ten minutes transpired before it was known that Brown had been shot, but as soon as the fact was ascertained and that his murderer had escaped, several citizens mounted their horses and started in pursuit.

It is needless to detail the operations of the pursuing parties. Suffice it to say that J. W. Dobson, who was among them ascertained that on reaching Bluff creek the murderers turned down the stream, crossed over Wm. Morris' farm, thence north across the creek and through E. H. Beal's place thence down the line to a point east of Cozad's place, where they turned into the bottoms of Bluff creek and probably remained there until towards evening.

When the pursuing party started out nothing was known or could be ascertained as to who the two men were, or whose herd they belonged to, although, as subsequent investigation showed, one or more persons knew all about them, but refused to give any information, fearing, perhaps, they might loose six bits worth of trade if they "gave away" a cowboy, no matter what crime he might commit. But it was learned before noon that the men belonged to Ellison's outfit, camped on Deer creek, and that of the others who were with them at the time of the murder, one was McGee, the boss of the herd, and the other two were herders. No effort seems to have been made to take in the Greens in case they went to camp, which they did about 6 o'clock, obtained fresh horses and ammunition, and then started off in a southeasterly direction. Up to the present writing the men have not been captured, and if any efforts have been put forth in that direction, the fact is kept a profound secret.

Geo. Brown, the murdered officer, was a young man about 28 years of age. He has resided in this city about two years, and has borne a good character. There was nothing of the bully or the braggart about him, but in the discharge of his duties he was quiet and courageous. It is not known that he had an enemy, therefore his murder would seem to be an act of pure fiendishness, perpetrated solely from a desire to take human life.

Of the Greens, Steve and Jess., we are informed that they are brothers, French Canadians by birth, and came originally from the vicinity of Collingwood, Ontario. They have been employed as herders for several years, and have visited Caldwell every season for the last three years. McGee, Ellison's foreman, says they came to the herd, and were employed by him, on the trail south of Red River; that they were desperate men, who did not seem to care for danger, but rather coveted it, but that they were good hands, doing their work faithfully and well. It is probable that they are outlaws, all the time ,fearing arrest, and constantly on the alert to prevent being taken alive. If not taken or killed for their last crime, it is only a question of time when they will yield up their lives in much the same manner in which they have taken the lives of others besides George Brown.

George Brown was a single man, resided on Fifth street, east of Main, his sister, Miss Fannie Brown, keeping house for him. When the terrible news was brought to her that her brother, her supporter and protector, had been cruelly shot down within a stone throw of his own door, the poor girl could not realize it at first, but when the truth forced itself upon her mind, she gave way to the most heart rending screams. Kind and sympathetic friends did everything in their power to solace her, but notwithstanding all their efforts it was feared at one time that she would not be able to survive the terrible blow. But nature, ever kind, came to her relief, and by Friday the intensity of her grief had given way to a calm resignation. Word was telegraphed to their father at Junction City, but owing to railroad connections he did not arrive until Saturday. George was buried on Friday afternoon, the funeral being largely attended by our citizens. All the business houses in the city closing out of respect for the deceased during the funeral.

A coroner's jury was summoned by J. D. Kelly, Esq., and an inquest began on Thursday afternoon. The inquest was not concluded until Monday afternoon, when a verdict was rendered that the deceased came to his death from a gun shot wound at the hands of J. D. Green.


J.D. or Jess Green as he is called, is a man about five feet ten inches in height, strong built, weighed about 180 pounds; full, broad face, dark complexion; hair black, coarse and straight, mustache and imperial colored black, but naturally of a sun burnt color. Had on dark clothes, leggings, and new white felt hat with a leather band around the crown.

Steve Green is about five feet six or eight inches high, heavy built, coarse black hair, mustache and imperial dyed, broad face, very dark; dressed about the same as his brother, save that his hat was not new. As stated above, the men are brothers, and from their appearance would be taken for Mexicans. When last heard from they were traveling west, evidently intending to make for New Mexico.

Shortly after Brown's death the sheriff of Sumner county, in which Caldwell is situated, wrote the governor of Kansas and asked that he offer a reward for the capture of the Greens.

Office of
J. M. Thralls
Sheriff Sumner County.


On the 22" day of March [June] 1882 the City Marshal at Caldwell George Brown was killed -- by one of two men giving their names as Jeff and Steve Green "Cow boys" The circumstances are about these -- Brown went up to one of them & asked him for his revolver he said he did not have any -- When Brown and an assistant took hold of him he jerked loose and shot Brown through the head killing him instantly -- Now are you not authorized to offer a reward of $500 apiece for their arrest and delivery to the Sheriff of Sumner Co We are having so much of this kind of work it does seem as tho the State should offer a good reward for some of these "Texas killers" and outlaws -- This is the fourth murder within the last year at Caldwell and Hunnewell and no reward offered by State for any of them --

Yours truly J M THRALLS
Please answer [1]

Within days Gov. John P. St. John responded with this proclamation:

$1000 REWARD!

WHEREAS, "JEFF. GREEN AND STEVE. GREEN" stand charged with the murder of George Brown, City Marshal of the City of Caldwell, in Sumner County, Kansas, on or about the 22nd day of March [June], 1882, and are now at large and fugitives from justice:

Now THEREFORE, I, JOHN P. ST. JOHN, Governor of the State of Kansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by law, do hereby offer a reward of FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS each, for the arrest and conviction of the said Jeff. Green and Steve. Green of the crime above stated.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and '. [L. S.] affixed the Great Seal of the State, at Topeka, the day and year first above written.

By the Governor:
Secretary of State. [2]

The shooting of George Brown prompted at least one out of town newspaper to censure Caldwell's city officers. Wellington's Sumner County Press, June 29, 1882, claimed that all of Caldwell's troubles were caused by men who had been "fired to evil by bad whiskey and prostitute women, both of which were placed within their reach only by means of flagrant violations of the laws of the state, through and by the sanction of the city governments of Caldwell and Hunnewell ...."

These charges were not taken lightly by the Caldwell Post which answered in its issue of July 6,1882:


Under the above caption the Sumner County Press, of last week, proceeds to read the citizens of Sumner county, and officers of Caldwell and Hunnewell a lecture on morality and immorality. The editor states what he is pleased to call facts, what in reality is a string of falsehoods or mistakes. In the first place, he says there has been forty murders committed in Sumner county in the last ten years, all traceable to whisky and lewd women, and that only three of the murderers have been brought to justice, namely, Jackson, Chastain and Carter.

In the three cases above, the city of Caldwell had nothing whatever, to do. Jackson killed his man for money-was tried, convicted and allowed by his guards to escape them while they were playing cards. The guards were leading citizens of Wellington, and were not drinking whisky at the time.

If we remember right, the citizens of Wellington murdered three or four men in an early day, that was not decidedly traceable to mean whisky. A murder was committed in London township, and the murderer was tried and not convicted. The murder was not committed while either of the men was under the influence of whisky nor prostitutes.

The murder of two men in the early days of Caldwell was not traceable to either whisky or prostitution. One was hanged by the citizens for his cursedness, and the other was committed by an outlaw just for the fun of the thing, who was chased by the citizens and killed.

George Flat was killed to satisfy a grudge. Frank Hunt was killed for the same reason and not on account of either women or whisky.

George Spear was shot by citizens or officers while assisting the Talbot gang to escape.

Talbot shot Mike Meagher in a riot, not caused by whisky or women, but from a supposed insult. He was an outlaw, and the officers nor citizens were not responsible for his actions no more than the city of Wellington. He was killed in Texas about two weeks ago.

George Brown was shot in the discharge of his duties. The men who did the killing were not under the influence of whisky or lewd women. One of them had taken two drinks and the other had not taken any. They were outlaws and would have made the same play had they been anywhere else in the State. They would give up their arms only after they were past using them.

The Press' fine-spun theory in the above named cases is decidedly at variation with the truth.

George Woods was killed by a man who had not touched whisky in two years, and was the outgrowth of a feud and supposed insult, but was, we are willing to admit, brought about through prostitutes.

Rare cussedness has been the cause of nine-tenths of the murders committed in the county, and not whisky and public sentiment, as the Press would have one believe. The city authorities are no more responsible for the murders that are committed in Caldwell, than is the President of the United States, and it is a base slander for any one to make such a statement.

Sheriff Joseph Thralls, who was instrumental in having a state reward offered for Jesse and Steve Green, added $400 to the amount, according to the Commercial of July 13,1882.

Out-of-town newspapers were still taking pot shots at Caldwell in November. Again the Post defended the town's honor in its issue of November 9, 1882:


The cowboys have removed five city marshals of Caldwell in five years. -- Dodge City Times.

We most emphatically deny the charge made by the Times that the cowboys removed five city marshals. The fact is, the cowboys have "removed" but one city marshal, and that one was George Brown. His murd[er]ers were escaped convicts from the Texas penitentiary, and were only making the profession of herding cattle a cover to their outlawry and cattle and horse-stealing operations. Jim Talbot killed Mike Meagher, assisted by cowboys, some of them being in a row of that class for the first time. Mr. Meagher was not a city marshal at the time of his death, nor was his murderer a cowboy at that time. The other marshals spoken of by the Times were not killed by cowboys, but by male prostitutes, to put it mildly.

It looks to us as though the charge contained in the item quoted from the Times comes with very bad grace from a man whose entire support-bread and butter, as it were-comes from men whose chief patrons are cowmen. The cowboys of our acquaintance are not the class of men that commit murders and raise riots simply because they can. They are, as a majority, well-educated, peaceable and gentlemanly fellows. The day of the wild and woolly cowboy is past, in this section, at least, if it is not in such ungodly towns as Dodge City. If the Dodge City editors would visit us once, and see what kind of people live here, we think they would not be so rash in their assertions.

On November 7, 1882, Sheriff Thralls reported the deaths of the Greens:

Office of J. M. Thralls Sheriff Sumner County.

WELLINGTON, KAN., Nov 7" 1882


You doubtless remember having offered a reward about July 1st for the arrest and conviction of the murderers of City Marshal George Brown of Caldwell- I had issued cards describing them as minutely as possible and sent them to every P. O. in the I. T.- N. M.- Colorado- and the western half of Texas- besides getting them into the hands of all Officers possible-

The result was the Officials of Wise County Texas- got after them had a fight with them- on Monday Oct 9"/82 when they whipped the constables' -posse- and escaped with one of them carrying a Winchester ball in his right side-which disabled him from traveling much. They were again overtaken on the following Wednesday morning- When asked to surrender they replied with a Shot gun and Revolver- The posse replied killing one instantly- and hitting the other 12 times- 2 Winchester balls and 10 Buck Shot- entered his body- but did not disable him so badly but what we could bring Trim to this County, his right side was paralyzed so he could not handle himself- We have had him in our Jail since- until today- last Saturday he was taken suddenly ill and became unconscious all at once and died Sunday morning- The Post mortem examination showed that our Buck Shot, of small size, entered his forehead- and passed through the lower part of his brain- and stopped near the back part of head- Then had puss formed along the course, of the ball- which caused his death. That ends the course of the two murderers of George Brown- Now what is necessary for us to do to get the State reward- which goes to their captors in Texas- We can give you several affidavits of his own admission to killing Brown The one that died in our Jail is the one who fired the fatal shot while the other, his bro -- was present and assisted by keeping off Brown's Deputy -- and came near shooting him -- He told the boys in Jail (5 of them) the circumstance of their flight after the murder --

If you will indicate in what way we can get the State reward -- I think we can fully satisfy you as to their identity and guilt -- If you will appoint some attorney -- in this section of the country we will furnish him the witnesses- as to Identity and guilt, or any attorney from any where so it is not too Expensive to us -- We are asking this for the Texas Officers who have done good work in the case -- And what was dangerous work, in good faith, and at some expense, now I would like to see them rewarded to make our part of the contract good

Hoping to hear from you soon I remain
Yours Respectfully,
J. M. THRALLS. [3]


1. "Governors' Correspondence," archives division, Kansas Historical Society.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
(To Be Continued in the Summer, 1960, Issue.)