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Long Branch Saloon Shootout
In the spring of 1879, the wicked little town of
not yet been tamed, a fact that would show itself once again in a
Branch Saloon. The Long Branch Saloon Shootout, also known as the
Richardson-Loving Gunfight, involved Levi Richardson, a
buffalo hunter, and
"Cockeyed Frank” Loving, a professional gambler.
Though Richardson was known as a slow
and awkward man, he also had a reputation as an excellent gunfighter.
The pair often met at the Long Branch Saloon, playing the many games
of chance that were offered and became friends. However, somewhere
along the line, Richardson developed some affection for Loving's wife
Mattie, and the friendship dissolved as the two began to argue about
The original Long Branch Saloon, courtesy
County Historical Society
The dispute finally came to blows as the
two argued in Front Street in March, 1879. Richardson ended up
in the face. However, an unarmed
Loving simply turned his back on Levi and walked away, with
Richardson yelling, "I’ll blow the guts of you, you
A few weeks later, on
Levi Richardson strode purposefully into the
Branch Saloon, looking for
Frank Loving. Believing it time to settle
was sure he would find
Frank in the
saloon, as it
had come to be is favored place to gamble. But
Loving wasn’t there.
headed to the bar for a drink before settling in before
the pot-bellied stove in the front of the
saloon. By about 9:00
had decided that
Loving wasn’t going to show up and
headed for the door. Just about the time was going to exit,
stepped into the
Frank sat down at a
Richardson turned around and took a seat at the same table. The two were then heard speaking lowly, though no one could hear what they
were saying. The next thing, someone heard
Richardson say, "You wouldn't
fight anything, you damn -------," to which
Loving replied, "You try me
The next thing you know,
Richardson had drawn his pistol, and
Loving obviously drew his in
Branch Saloon was then filled with smoke.
Charlie Bassett, the
Marshal heard the shots from where he was in Beatty & Kelley's
Both men were still standing but
Richardson had shot five shells from his gun and
Loving's Remington No. 44
was empty. Deputy Sheriff Duffey threw
Richardson down in a chair and took
his gun, while
Richardson then got up and started
toward the billiard table, when he fell to the floor with a fatal gunshot
in the chest, as well as a shot through the side and another through the
Frank Loving, who had only a slight scratch on the hand, was
immediately taken to jail. Two days later, on April 7, 1879,
the coroner's inquest ruled that the killing had been in self-defense
Loving was immediately released.
Frank Loving would leave his wife Mattie, a
two-year old son, John, and a one-year old daughter, Mintie.
Loving moved on to another
lawless town –
New Mexico, before finally making his way to Trinidad,
Colorado in 1882.
There, he would die in the same
Richardson in the Trinidad, Colorado shoot-out
in April 16, 1882.
of America, updated February, 2010.
image available for prints and downloads
April 8, 1879 - Ford County Globe
"There is seldom witnessed in any civilized town or country such a scene as
transpired at the Long Branch Saloon, in this city, last Saturday evening,
resulting in the killing of
Levi Richardson, a well known freighter, of
this city, by a gambler named
For several months
Loving has been living with a woman toward whom
Richardson seems to have cherished tender feelings, and on one or two
occasions previous to this which resulted so fatally, they have quarreled
and even come to blows.
Richardson was a man who had lived
for several years on the frontier, and though well liked in many respects,
he had cultivated habits of bold and daring, which are always likely to
get a man into trouble. Such a disposition as he possessed might be termed
bravery by many, and indeed we believe he was the reverse of a coward. He
was a hard working, industrious man, but young and strong and reckless.
Loving is a
man of whom we know but very little. He is a gambler by profession; not
much of a roudy, but more of the cool and desperate order, when he has a
killing on hand. He is about 23 years old. Both, or either of these men,
we believe, might have avoided this shooting if either had possessed a
desire to do so. But both being willing to risk their lives, each with
confidence in himself, they fought because they wanted to fight. As stated
in the evidence below, they met, one said "I don't believe you will
fight." The other answered "try me and see," and immediately both drew
murderous revolvers and at it they went, in a room filled with people, the
leaden missives flying in all directions. Neither exhibited any sign of a
desire to escape the other, and there is no telling how long the fight
might have lasted had not
Richardson been pierced with bullets and
Loving's pistol left without a cartridge.
Richardson was shot in the
breast, through the side and through the right arm. It seems strange that
Loving was not hit, except a slight scratch on the hand, as the two men
were so close together that their pistols almost touched each other.
Eleven shots were fired, six by
Loving and five by
only lived a few moments after the shooting.
Loving was placed in jail to
await the verdict of the coroner's Jury, which was "self defense," and he
Richardson has no relatives in this vicinity. He was from
Wisconsin. About twenty-eight years old.
all the better class of our community we greatly regret this terrible
affair. We do not believe it is a proper way to settle difficulties, and
we are positive it is not according to any law, human or divine. But if
men must continue to persist in settling their disputes with fire arms we
would be in favor of the dueling system, which would not necessarily
endanger the lives of those who might be passing up or down the street
attending to their own business.
We do not know
that there is cause to censure the police, unless it be to urge upon them
the necessity of strictly enforcing the ordinance preventing the carrying
of concealed weapons. Neither of these men had a right to carry such
weapons. Gamblers, as a class, are desperate men. They consider it
necessary in their business that they keep up their fighting reputation,
and never take a bluff. On no account should they be allowed to carry
April, 1879 - Witness statement by Adam Jackson, bartender,
regarding the Long Branch Saloon Gunfight
"I was in the
Long Branch Saloon about 8 or 9 o'clock Saturday evening. I
Levi Richardson. He was in the
saloon just before the fuss, standing
by the stove. He started to go out and went as far as the door when
came in at the door.
Richardson turned and followed back into the house.
Loving sat down on the hazard table.
Richardson came and sat near him on
the same table. Then
Loving immediately got up, making some remark to
Richardson, could not understand what it was.
Richardson was sitting on
the table at the time, and
Loving standing up.
Loving says to
Richardson: 'If you
have anything to say about me why don't you come and say it to my face
like a gentleman, and not to my back, you dam son of a bitch.'
Richardson then stood up
and said: 'You wouldn't fight anything, you dam—' could not hear the rest.
Loving said 'you try me and see.'
Richardson pulled his pistol first, and
Loving also drew a pistol. Three or four shots were fired when
fell by the billiard table.
Richardson did not fire after he fell. He fell
on his hands and knees. No shots were fired after
Richardson fell. No
persons were shooting except the two mentioned.
Loving's pistol snapped
twice and I think
Richardson shot twice before
Loving's pistol was
April, 1879 - Witness statement by Marshal
Charles Bassett, regarding the
Long Branch Saloon Gunfight
"When I first heard the firing I was at Beatty & Kelley's
saloon. Ran up to the
Long Branch as fast as I could. Saw
Frank Loving, Levi Richardson and Duffey.
Richardson was dodging and running around the billiard table.
Loving was also running and dodging around the table. I got as far as the
stove when the shooting had about ended. I caught
Loving's pistol. Think
there was two shots fired after I got into the room, am positive there was
Loving fired that shot, to the best of my knowledge. Did not see
Richardson fire any shot, and did not see him have a pistol. I examined
the pistol which was shown me as the one
Richardson had. It contained five
Richardson fell while I was there. Whether he was shot before or after I came
in am unable to say. I think the shots fired after I came in were fired by
Richardson fell immediately after the shot I heard.
Did not see any other person shoot at
Richardson Did not see Duffey take
Richardson's pistol. Do not know whether
Loving knew that
pistol had been taken away from him There was considerable smoke in the
Loving's pistol was a Remington No 44 and was empty after the