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Chapter 10: Mrs. Luke Short

Jack DeMattos University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 10

Mrs. Luke Short

“Luke Short came there, to the hotel where I was staying, with his wife, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of an Emporia banker, whom he married under romantic circumstances.”

—A.G. Arkwright in the New York Sun, July 25, 1897.

She was indeed a beautiful woman. It was also true that her family resided in Emporia, Kansas, although her father was not a banker. From

March 15, 1887, until his death on September 8, 1893, she was Luke

Short’s wife. Her full name was Harriet Beatrice Buck but she was always called “Hattie.” Her father was Oscar Buck, who was born in Illinois on January 16, 1836. Her mother, Cynthia Allen, was born in Texas on

March 26, 1839. They married in Coles County, Illinois, on July 23, 1857.1

Cynthia and Oscar had eight children, the first five of whom were born in Coles County: Mary Alice on July 7, 1858; Harvey Joseph on March

27, 1860; Eva K. on September 20, 1862; Harriet Beatrice on October 5,

1863; and Nora E. on September 29, 1866.

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Chapter 9: Dead Man in a Shooting Gallery

Jack DeMattos University of North Texas Press PDF


The Notorious Luke Short

was shot twice, the bullets entering the back and coming out the front, either one of which would have been fatal. After he was shot he ran approximately fifty yards before he collapsed and died.

The press was eager to report the sensational news, so eager that initial reports were printed even before the coroner’s jury had concluded its findings. It appeared that Schuyler was passing by Henry Short’s shop, when a “few words were exchanged, and then the shooting commenced.”

Most witnesses claimed there were three shots fired, a few claimed four. No one claimed the victim had a pistol, and evidently Schuyler was running when hit. Early the following morning a deputy sheriff found a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol on the ground in the direction in which Schuyler was running. One cartridge had been fired and one cartridge had snapped, or misfired. The friends of Schuyler claimed it was not his pistol and no pistol was found on the body. Then John and Josiah

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Chapter 15: Luke Short—Prize Fight Promoter

Jack DeMattos University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 15

Luke Short—Prize

Fight Promoter

Luke Short has gone to San Angelo “to attend the funeral of his brother Will, who was killed by a herd of stampeding cattle on the Tankersly ranch.”

—Dallas Morning News, April 4, 1890.

By October 1889 Luke Short was back in Texas attending the annual fair at Dallas. The fair drew huge crowds, including gamblers and confidence men. Luke would have been drawn there by the horse races, which were a major part of the fair. On October 21 the leading Dallas newspaper reported that “Luke Short of the panther city is in this city.”1 Luke was also seeking investors in Dallas to help bankroll his scheme of bringing a heavyweight championship fight to Fort Worth, or a nearby location. One possibility was a proposed fight between the champion, John L. Sullivan, and Peter Jackson, who was managed by Parson Davies of Chicago. A location for the match (which neither fighter had agreed to) prompted bidding from several sporting men, including Short. By now Chicago was well aware of who Luke Short was. The Daily Inter Ocean reported that

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Chapter 12: The State of Texas v. Luke Short

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The Notorious Luke Short

that had been making the rounds in Fort Worth since September 1887.1

Two main points were considered in Luke’s appeal. First, an individual at this time and place could legally carry a pistol if that individual “was at his usual place of business.” Second, that individual could legally carry a pistol if the individual had reasonable grounds for fearing an unlawful attack upon his person, and that danger was imminent.

According to state witness S. P. Maddox, one of the arresting policemen, on the night of December 12, 1887, he had arrested Short in the White

Elephant for carrying a pistol. He testified he had observed Short withdraw a pistol from his hip pocket and discharge it into the floor of the saloon.

Maddox claimed he “had to overpower” Short in making the arrest. At the time Short claimed he had a commission and had the authority to carry the pistol. At the time there was a large crowd in the saloon and

Short was “crazy drunk.” The state closed.

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Chapter 4: Get Out of Dodge

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Chapter 4

Get Out of Dodge

“Luke Short and L. C. Hartman met upon the street and paid their respective compliments to each other by exchanging shots.”

—Ford County Globe, May 1, 1883.

The first time that Luke Short’s name appeared in a Dodge City newspaper was during the summer of 1882. It was one of those “humorous” items, which an 1882 audience in Dodge would have found hilarious.

Cringe-inducing today, it reflects the racial prejudice then prevalent in

Dodge City, as well as the rest of 1882 America. It told of two Chinese gentlemen who had been “added to the population of Dodge City” directly from Trinidad, Colorado, and “brought with them letters of introduction from Bat Masterson to Luke Short. They engage in the washee business.

There are four gentlemen from the Celestial Kingdom now residents of

Dodge. All were pursuing the wash business. Mr. Fred Wenie provided the new arrivals with quarters. Fred is chief mogul among the Chinese.

He speaks their language fluently. But he can’t go their diet of rats, mice and rice.”1

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