Masterson, William Barclay, better known as "Bat" Masterson, was born in Iroquois county, Ill., in 1854. His father was a native of the State of New York and by occupation was a farmer. In 1870 the family removed to Kansas and settled in Sedgwick county. During his boyhood days he became an expert in the use of firearms, and accompanied expeditions that went out after buffaloes. The nickname "Bat" was conferred on him by his companions one day while out on one of these trips, the name descending "to him as it were from Baptiste Brown, or 'Old Bat,' whose fame as a mighty Nimrod . . . filled with admiration that generation of plainsmen which immediately preceded Mr. Masterson upon the western stage." In 1874 he was employed as a scout in the vicinity of Fort Elliott in the Pan Handle country. While at Adobé Walls he seems to have incurred the displeasure of a jealous sergeant from Fort Elliott, who came over on purpose to settle scores. Locating Masterson in a dance hall, the sergeant forced an entrance and opened fire on him. The woman operating the hall, in an effort to protect Masterson from the onslaught, thrust herself between the belligerents only to receive a shot that killed her instantly, the ball passing through her body and severely wounding Masterson, who fell to the floor. While in this position he raised himself, drew his gun, and took one shot at the sergeant, killing him before he could make another move. This was his first man and the killing was done in self-defense. Some months later he was one of the besieged hunters at Adobé Walls (q. v.) in a several days' fight with infuriated Indians who were out on a war of extermination against the buffalo hunters.
He served two terms as sheriff of Ford county, and his brother, Ed Masterson, was marshal of Dodge City while Bat was sheriff. One day a squad of Texas cowboys came into town, took possession of one of the dance halls and started a row. Bat and Ed went over to straighten out matters, the former going inside while the latter kept guard in front. Another cowboy appeared on the scence whom Ed asked to surrender his gun. He replied by placing his gun against Ed's body and firing, giving him a mortal wound and setting his clothes on fire at the same time. Bat, hearing the shot, came out to see what was the matter, told his brother to go for help, and turned his attention to the assailants. A few minutes later two of the cowboys were dead and the disturbance in the dance hall was quieted.
About 1881 he removed to Tombstone, Ariz., and while there received word from a Dodge City friend that his brother James had been injured in a quarrel with the proprietor of the Lady Gay dance halla resort operated by a man named Peacock and his barkeeper named Updegraff. He took the first train for Dodge City, reached there at 11 a. m., and soon met Peacock and Updegraff, whom he invited to come shooting. During the fracas, which was participated in by friends on both sides, only one man was hurt, Mr. Updegraff, and he subsequently recovered. After the battle was over the mayor arrived on the scene with his Winchester rifle, and ordered Masterson to throw down his gun, which he did at the solicitation of his friends. He was then arrested, fined $5 and costs which he cheerfully paid at 12 o'clock, and at 3 p. m. took the train for Tombstone.
Some years later he removed to Trinidad, Cob., where he filled the office of deputy marshal. He also saw military service as a ranger under Gen. Nelson A. Miles, and in 1893 he went to New York City at the request of a former superintendent of police, Thomas Byrnes. At that time George Gould had received a number of threatening letters, in one of which the writer threatened to shoot Gould on sight. Byrnes suggested to the multi-millionaire that he needed the services of some man who wouldn't be afraid to "shoot up" Broadway during the busy hours if necessary, who would hit the man he shot at instead of some other individual, and suggested Masterson. For eight months he shadowed Mr. Gould, finally apprehending the letter writer at the home of Miss Helen Gould, whom he insisted had promised to marry him. Since then he has lived in New York. In 1905, at the request of President Roosevelt, he was appointed deputy United States marshal for New York.Pages 247-248 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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