Sherman W. McMasters was an
Texas Ranger, and
lawman best known for his
participation in the Earp Vendetta Ride. Born in 1853 in
headed west where he gained a reputation as a
gunfighter. He was in
at the same time as were Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, where he made
friends with the pair. There, he also reportedly killed a man in self-defense
after a gambling dispute in a saloon.
By September, 1878, McMasters was working
Texas Rangers in El Paso County, a position that he held until the
following spring. It was in the Lone Star State
that he met
Curly Bill Brocius,
and by some accounts, helped him to escape from jail.
In 1879, had hooked up with other
illustrious characters of the
City Gang in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He was known to have
associated with the likes of such characters as
Brown, who ran the gang that for a time, was firmly in control of
a criminal cartel participated in
several stage coach and train robberies, organized cattle rustling,
and were said to have been responsible for multiple murders and
Later, McMasters drifted to Tombstone,
Arizona, where he was friendly with not only the likes of
Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Barnes and Pony Deal,
who supported the
but, was also friendly with the
Earp brothers, who were at obvious odds with the
During this time, McMasters was a suspect in
the stealing of Army mules in July, 1880, and the next year, the theft of two
valuable horses from the Contention Mine, and a Globe,
stagecoach robbery. However, by 1882, he was allegedly employed by
Wyatt Earp to help track
"Curly Bill" Brocious and Pony Deal follow a January, 1882 robbery of the
Arizona stagecoach. Whether McMasters was truly an
outlaw or was
working undercover to break up the
Cowboy faction remains a mystery.
McMasters was in the saloon in which
Earp was assassinated in March, 1882. After
death and an attempt on
life, McMasters was clearly in allegiance with the
Earps, when he joined
when they began their Vendetta Ride.
He took part in the murder of
Frank Stillwell at Tucson,
Arizona, and of Florentino Cruz, who was also called Indian Charlie, two days
later. However, he was not present at Earp's alleged confrontation with
Curly Bill Brocius. Following the two week revenge ride of the
Wyatt and disappeared from history.
Later, Will McLaury, in a letter written to his father, stated
that McMasters had been killed in a shootout with the
Cowboy faction in 1884.
However, Wyatt would say that McMasters died in the Phillipines in 1898, while
serving as a soldier in the Spanish American War, though there are no documents
to support this. The most reasonable account was by McMasters siblings, who
indicated that he died in
Colorado in 1892.
of America, updated January, 2011.