The Grafters Club

The Membership


Bat Masterson


The quintessential sporting man and hired gun, Masterson and the Blonger Bros. are said to have been friends since the glory days of Dodge City in the late Seventies.


Bat Masterson

In 1876, a loose faction of teamsters, Indian fighters and such known as the Dodge City gang were very interested in Dodge remaining an open town. They backed the political aspirations of businessmen Bob Wright, James Kelley and others. Bat was sympathetic to the cause.

In July of 1877, gambler Charlie Ronan was arrested by Marshal Larry Deger, a foe of the gang. Kelley demanded Deger's badge, and summoned Ed Masterson to arrest the sheriff. Masterson was able to contain the situation peacefully.

In Dodge City in November of 1879, Bat Masterson lost re-election as sheriff, but his brother Jim, who had been a deputy under Bat, was elected town marshal.

Things in town were pretty quiet after that, and Jim's salary was cut to $50 a month. Jim took a partnership in the Lady Gay saloon with A.J. Peacock. By the spring of '81, Jim was voted out and a new administration took control.

Meanwhile, Masterson was knocking heads with Peacock, particularly regarding Peacock's brother-in-law, Al Updegraff, who had been hired as bartender. Eventually shots were exchanged, at which point Peacock and Updegraff, who had the mayor and police on their side, may have felt justified in going after Masterson and putting an end to the matter.

Fearing for Jim's safety, someone then telegraphed Bat, who was in Tombstone dealing faro for Wyatt Earp, warning him that his younger brother was in a bind. Bat left as soon as he could and arrived in Dodge on April 16, 1881.

No sooner than he had stepped off the train, he spied Updegraff and Peacock, and called out to them. The shooting began immediately.

Both parties took cover, and soon others had joined the fray, including, supposedly, Jim Masterson and Charlie Ronan, Jim's gambler friend.

Updegraff was shot through the lung in the ensuing battle, and blamed Bat for the shot. Bat was arrested, and given an $8 fine for discharging his pistol within city limits.

Fort Collins Courier, May 5, 1881

A. Updegraph, a Dodge City bartender, was fatally wounded a few days ago by Bert Masterson, an Arizona tough.

State warrants were issued for Bat and Jim Masterson, Ronan, and Tom O'Brien, but they were allowed to leave town, and did so. The Dodge City Times of April 21, 1881 noted that "Jim Masterson and Charley Ronan have gone west to grow up with the country."

Which is to say, he was, in fact, told to get out of Dodge.

The firing on the street by Bat. Masterson, and jeopardizing the lives of citizens, is severely condemned by our people, and the good opinion many citizens had of Bat. has been changed to one of contempt. The parties engaged in this reckless affray were permitted to leave town, though warrants were sworn out for their arrest. Bat. Masterson, James Masterson, Chas. Ronan and Tom O'Brien were the accused, and there is good reason to believe they will never darken Dodge City any more. We believe the authorities were perfectly right in permitting these men to go. If they will remain away, there will be no more trouble in Dodge City. Should they return they will be prosecuted.

Updegraff died of smallpox two years later.

Charlie Ronan would soon be a loyal member of Sam's posse in New Albuquerque.

Aspen Weekly Times, April 10, 1897

The Election of the Entire Taxpayer's Ticket in Denver Conceded.
Electing Carter Harrison, jr., Mayor By Fifty Thousand Majority—Big Majority For The Citizens' Ticket in Leadville—From Other Cities in Colorado—Riots In Denver.
Denver, April 6.—The republicans and everybody else concede that Mayor T.S. McMurray and the entire taxpayers' ticket was elected in today's election. This is the first time that any mayor has succeeded himself in the city of Denver. Mayor McMurray will have a clear majority of at least 5,000 over his opponents.
There were two incipient riots tonight. Shortly after 7 o'clock Deputy Sheriff DeLue attempted to force two men on the judges of precinct 8, third ward, alleging that they were watchers. The judges claimed that the men had not proper credentials, and declined to admit them. DeLue and his two friends then attacked the place. DeLue kicked in the window, while the others tried to break into the door. Somebody called for the patrol wagon, and the officers arrived just in time to prevent a riot.
Shortly after 9 o'clock Bat Masterson and police officer Tim Conners had a shooting match at 1835 Champa street, a polling place. Masterson appeared with a deputy sheriff's commission, and demanded a place in the polls to watch the count. Conners, who had been elected as special constable by the judges, was requested to eject Masterson. He ordered Bat out, and, after some words, Masterson opened fire with his revolver, firing several shots. Conners is said to have replied in kind. Masterson then ran, and has not since been heard from. A number of citizens are scouring the city to capture him. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

Castle Rock Journal, December 30, 1898

Gamblers Flocking to Havana.
New York, Dec. 24.—A dispatch to the World from Havana, says:
On the heels of the announcement that Jim Corbett will open a saloon here, comes the news that Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp of Tombstone, A. T. "Doc" Holliday, Ed Casey, "The Kid" of Skaguay, Alaska, and "Doc" Brown of Spokane, are coming to Havana to engage in various enterprises.
Judging from appearances, the early history of the Western towns of America will be repeated in Havana.
Gambling houses will be opened everywhere. It is a poor business street which has not had bids on it for a location for an American bar. That seems to be the idea among the sporting fraternity that Havana will be made another Monte Carlo, to endure through the reconstruction period, at least.

Daily Journal, June 7, 1902

Bat Masterson Arrested.
New York, June 7.—Bat Masterson with two confederates were arrested on complaint of Geo. H. Snow, son of the late president of the Mormon Church, for running a crooked faro game in which Snow lost $16,000. The three men were released on bonds of $1000.

$16,000. 3 x $1000. Do the math.

Daily Journal, June 9, 1902

Bat Masterson Fined Ten.
New York, June 9.—Bat Masterson was fined $10 today for carrying concealed weapons. The charge of having gambling instruments in his possession was dismissed.

Elbert County Banner, December 15, 1905

It is reported that Bat Masterson, well known in Denver and throughout the west as a dead shot with a big number of notches on his gun, is to be appointed to the secret service at the White House.

Telluride Daily Journal, October 25, 1921

Bat Masterson Dead at Desk