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Chapter 6: The Dodge City Peace Commission

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The Notorious Luke Short

On the same date that Luke arrived in Caldwell, a train carrying Bat

Masterson stopped at Dodge, before going on to Colorado. Nicholas B.

Klaine of the Dodge City Times noted his presence at the stopover, merely saying that Masterson passed through on “the cannon ball train.” Some citizens of Dodge went to the train but they could not gain access to the sleeping car, which contained “the redoubtable Bat.” The unexpected statement was that “No one in Dodge wants to offer Bat any harm as long as Bat offers no harm himself.” Why would there be a concern? Bat was a good friend of Luke Short, and, according to Klaine, the country “has been anticipating some fearful things judging from the promulgation of the proposed movement of a notorious gang.” The people of Dodge had anticipated such a denouement; few people, Klaine noted, “believed the statements in the Kansas City papers about the proposed action of the gang.”2

Things remained quiet until May 31, when Wyatt Earp returned to

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Chapter 9: Dead Man in a Shooting Gallery

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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 1: The Cowboy by Birth

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Chapter 1

The Cowboy by Birth

“[Abilene] was a paradise of variety shows and gambling establishments.

Every thing was wide open and every thing went.”

—Dallas Morning News, September 9, 1893.

The well-dressed man relaxed as the boot black polished his shoes at the White Elephant, the most elegant saloon-gambling house in Fort

Worth. He always made it a point when at work to dress immaculately, to set the tone for others to follow. This night, February 8, 1887, was no exception. Luke Short was known by nearly everyone in that section of the Lone Star State as a polished but dangerous gambler who seemed to always be in control of his emotions and environment.

Now a friend approached and asked, “Luke, anything between you and Jim Courtright?” Short, never loquacious, simply thought a moment and answered, “Nothing.” The matter was forgotten.

With shoes polished Short approached the bar to converse with a couple of friends. Then someone called out to him, a note of concern in his voice,

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Chapter 13: The Sport of Kings and a Palace Royal

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The Notorious Luke Short

had further bragging rights when it was reported that he owned three brothers of Proctor Knott. At the time they were training in Tennessee.3

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of a Manhattan encounter Luke

Short had with a noted trouble maker named Fred May. It circulated while

Short was still alive and also appeared in many of his obituaries. May was allegedly “a jewel of a man” when he met up with Luke Short, before his “dissipation had wrecked his constitution as well as his fortune.” May had “nerves of steel and knew naught of fear.” The incident in question happened in one of the up-town restaurants and the conversation was

“rather free.” Short made some remark about an actress who was then

“the idol of New York.” May took exception and stated that the man who would say that was a coward and no gentleman. Short “calmly looked

May over from head to foot and then let his eyes travel back from foot to head.” This obviously unnerved May and he demanded of Short what was the matter with him. “I was merely thinking where I would hit you” responded Short, and without moving a muscle, Short continued:

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Chapter 12: The State of Texas v. Luke Short

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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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