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Chapter 14: The Main Event

Jack DeMattos University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 14

The Main Event

Luke Short, “the noted sporting man of Fort Worth . . . will go anywhere in the world for Bat.”

—Chicago Daily Tribune, July 3, 1889.

Luke Short would spend part of each year, from 1889 until 1893 in

Chicago. He usually went there during the summer months to get relief from the Texas heat as well as to attend thoroughbred horse races. Hattie always went with him on these extended visits that often lasted weeks and sometimes months. Hattie and Luke stayed at the Leland Hotel on

Michigan Avenue. She undoubtedly loved everything about Chicago, from fine restaurants to theaters, and of course, the shopping. Most of all she would have appreciated not being judged negatively, as she was in Fort Worth, because of whom she was married to. In Chicago, if Hattie was judged at all it would have been for her beauty. She had the ability to turn heads in a metropolis with no shortage of beautiful women. By 1889, Luke had attained celebrity status and was well known even in the “Second City.”1

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Chapter 5: A Plain Statement and Shots from Short

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The Notorious Luke Short

City was in the hands of a mob, and that the persons and property of peaceable citizens were in constant jeopardy from destruction. In reality the Dodge City citizens continued to pursue “the even tenor of their way” and perhaps the town was more peaceable than it had been for years. The violence being done to persons and property was “all being done in Kansas City and Topeka through the press” while Dodge City itself was “quiet orderly and peaceable.”1

“A Plain Statement” stressed that what was happening was necessary about every two years, in other words, “a clearing out of an element composed of bold, daring men of illegal profession who, from toleration by the respectable portion of the community, are allowed to gain a prestige found difficult to unseat.”2 But what of the group that was ordered out of town? That element was one which “has to be banished, or else the respectable people have to be bulldozed and browbeat by a class of men without any vested interest or visible means of support, who should be allowed to remain in a decent community by toleration, but who, instead, after gaining prestige, they undertake to dictate the government of the better class.”

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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 16: Last Gunfight

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The Notorious Luke Short

also considered it miraculous that no one was killed since the shooting was at such close quarters.

Louis de Mouche, a saloon owner who happened to be in the crowd when the shooting erupted, was an eye witness who had the nerve to remain and see the deadly exchange. He explained what he saw and heard. Gambler de Mouche heard a big noise out on the street and ran out to see what [was] the matter. Everybody was running down stairs from the gambling place. I asked what was the matter, and they told me that Luke

Short was up there and there was going to be some shooting.

Everybody was down stairs at that time and I ran in. At the head of the stairs I met Luke Short with his revolver in his hand. I put my arm around him and tried to pull him out.

De Mouche said, “Come on away, Luke, or you will get hurt.” Luke said nothing, just stood still. At that moment de Mouche saw a door about six feet away pulled open “and a hand thrust out with a revolver in it.”

I pulled Luke around quick and the revolver went off. But Luke was as quick as the stranger, for he fired about the same time. That bullet entered the wrist of the stranger. That’s all the shooting that was done.

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Chapter 11: The War on the Gambling Fraternity

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The Notorious Luke Short

sporting man only, never giving back to the city. He may have thought of

Fort Worth as his home, but he would never become an accepted member of the community in the way that Jake Johnson was. Luke and Hattie rented an expensive suite in the Mansion Hotel, while Jake Johnson was busy building a house that was an actual mansion.

In early June the citizens of Panther City could watch Jake Johnson’s handsome residence on the south side, costing $15,000, take recognizable shape. There were other dwellings equally fine on the drawing boards, but none would equal the mansion that was Jake Johnson’s.1 What may have been a little-known fact was that Jake owned the land that those other dwellings would be constructed on. He was also powerful enough to publicly ridicule a state-wide prohibition vote that was coming up.

The betting on the results of the prohibition election in August was quite heavy. Jake Johnson, being a sporting man of considerable wealth, staked about $10,000 on the state giving a majority of 50,000 against the prohibition amendment.2

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