William "Billy" Brooks - Lawman &
"Billy" L. Brooks, aka: "Buffalo Bill" (1832?-1874) -
Born in Ohio about 1832, Brooks moved westward when he grew up and became such a successful
that he earned the nickname of "Buffalo Bill," which has often gotten him
confused with the more famous William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, or the original
William "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson, who had been called such as early as the
At the same time, he was gaining
a reputation as a
and by 1870 was working as a stage driver for the Southwestern Stage
Company between Wichita,
Oklahoma. Later, he
began to drive the stage to the wild cattle town of
Kansas, where he was
made the city marshal in 1872 at a salary of $75 per month. In June of
that year, several
Texas cowboys were having a drunken spree at a local
dance hall when Brooks ran them out of town. However, the cowboys turned
on him as they were leaving and fired three shots into him, hitting him
once near his collar bone and twice in his limbs. The fearless Brooks;
however, continued to pursue the cowboys for about ten miles, before
finally returning to Newton, to have his wounds looked after.
Brooks recovered from the gunshots, which were
obviously minor, resigned his position as city marshal and next appeared
Kansas in early 1873, where he again worked as a lawman.
Though in his first year, he cleared many of the town's seedier elements,
it was also felt that he was too quick on the trigger. In his first month alone,
it is said that he was involved in 15
In one instance, he was said to have killed four men who were looking to
take revenge on Brooks after he had killed their brother. However; Brooks
killed all four instead.
Before long, Dodge
City officials began to wonder about several men who had been killed
in questionable circumstances, including a man Brooks killed in an
argument over a local dance hall girl.
After backing down from gunfighter Kirk Jordan, Brooks left the position
returned to his old job as a stage driver for the Southwestern Stage
However, in early 1874, the
stage company lost their mail contact to a rival company and Brooks lost
his job. In June,
several mules and horses owned by the rival company were stolen, allegedly
by Brooks and several other men in an attempt to weaken the rival company
and get their jobs back. The following month; however, Brooks and two
other men, by the names of L.B. Hasbrouck and Charlie Smith, were
arrested and jailed to await trial near Caldwell,
They would not get their day in court. On July 29th, a lynch mob stormed the jail and Brooks and
the other two men were taken to a large tree to be hanged. Despite their
pleas for mercy and a fair trail, all three were hanged. Reportedly, Brooks struggled violently after the rope
failed to break his neck and strangled to death.
updated March, 2012.
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