Populating Boot Hill in Dodge City, Kansas

This was one of the most daring and dangerous shooting scrapes that Dodge City has ever experienced, and God knows, she has had many of them.

James Masterson

James Masterson

It seems that Peacock and James Masterson, a second brother of Bat, ran a dance hall together. For some reason, Masterson wanted to discharge their bar-keeper, Al Updegraph, a brother-in-law of Peacock, which Peacock refused to do, over which they had serious difficulty; and James Masterson telegraphed his brother, Bat, to come and help him out of his difficulties. I expect he made his story big, for he was in great danger if the threats had been carried out. Bat thought so, at least, for he came at once, with a friend.

Soon after his arrival, he saw Peacock and Updegraph going toward the depot. Bat holloed to them to stop, which I expect they thought a challenge, and each made for the corner of the little calaboose across the street. Bat dropped behind a railroad cut, and the ball opened; and it was hot and heavy, for about ten minutes, when parties from each side of the street took a hand. One side was firing across at the other, and vice versa, the combatants being in the center. When Updegraph was supposed to be mortally wounded and his ammunition exhausted, he turned and ran to his side of the street, and, after a little, so did Peacock, when Bat walked back to the opposite side and gave himself up to the officers.

The houses were riddled on each side of the street. Some had three or four balls in them; and no one seemed to know who did the shooting, outside of the parties directly concerned. It caused great excitement, at first, but the cooler heads thought discretion was the better part of valor, and, as both parties were to blame, they settled the difficulties amicably, and Bat took his brother away with him. Both parties displayed great courage. They stood up and shot at each other until their ammunition was exhausted. Though all did not contribute directly to the population of Boot Hill, there were many deeds of violence committed in Dodge City’s first ten years of life, that paralleled any which added a subject for interment in that primitive burying ground.

Dodge City in the late 1800's

Dodge City in the late 1800’s

Such a case was the shooting of Dora Hand, a celebrated actress. The killing of Dora Hand was an accident; still, it was intended for a cold-blooded murder, so was accidental only in the victim that suffered. It seems that Mayor James Kelly and a very rich cattleman’s son, who had marketed many thousand head of cattle in Dodge, during the summer, had a drunken altercation. It did not amount to much, at the time, but, to do the subject justice, they say that Kelly did treat Kennedy badly. Anyhow, Kennedy got the worst of it. This aroused his half-breed nature. He quietly went to Kansas City, bought him the best horse that money could secure, and brought him back to Dodge. In the meantime, Mr. Kelly had left his place of abode, on account of sickness, and Miss Dora Hand was occupying his residence and bed.

Kennedy, of course, was not aware of this. During the night of his return or about four o’clock next morning, he ordered his horse and went to Kelly’s residence and fired two shots through the door, without dismounting, and rode away. The ball struck Miss Hand in the right side under the arm, killing her instantly. She never woke up.

Kennedy took a direction just opposite to his ranch.

The officers had reason to believe who did the killing but did not start in pursuit until the afternoon. The officers in pursuit were Sheriff Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Charles Bassett, Duffy, and William Tilghman, as intrepid a posse as ever pulled a trigger. They went as far as Meade City, where they knew their quarry had to pass and went into camp in a very careless manner. In fact, they arranged so as to completely throw Kennedy off his guard, and he rode right into them when he was ordered three times to throw up his hands. Instead of doing so, he struck his horse with his quirt, when several shots were fired by the officers, one shot taking effect in his left shoulder, making a dangerous wound. Three shots struck the horse, killing him instantly. The horse fell partly on Kennedy, and Sheriff Masterson said, in pulling him out, he had hold of the wounded arm and could hear the bones crunch. Not a groan did Kennedy let out of him, although the pain must have been fearful. And all he said was, “You sons of b—-, I will get even with you for this.” Under the skillful operation of Drs. McCarty and Tremaine, Kennedy recovered, after a long sickness. They took four inches of the bone out, near the elbow. Of course, the arm was useless, but he used the other well enough to kill several people afterward, but finally met his death by someone a little quicker on the trigger than himself. Miss Dora Hand was a celebrated actress and would have made her mark should she have lived.

Meade, Kansas

Meade, Kansas

One Sunday night in October 1883, there was a fatal encounter between two negroes, Henry Hilton and Nigger Bill, two as brave and desperate characters as ever belonged to the colored race. Some said they were both struck on the same girl and this was the cause.

Henry was under bonds for murder, of which the following is the circumstances. Negro Henry was the owner of a ranch and a little bunch of cattle. Coming in with a lot of white cowboys, they began joshing Henry, and one of them attempted to throw a rope over him.

Henry warned them he would not stand any such rough treatment if he was a nigger. He did this in a dignified and determined manner. When one rode up and lassoed him, almost jerking him from his horse, Henry pulled his gun and killed him. About half of the cowboys said he was justifiable in killing his man; it was self-defense, for if he had not killed him, he would have jerked him from his horse and probably killed Henry.

Negro Bill Smith was equally brave and had been tried more than once. They were both found, locked in each other’s arms (you might say), the next morning, lying on the floor in front of the bar, their empty six-shooters lying by the side of each one. The affair must have occurred sometime after midnight, but no one was on hand to see the fight, and they died without a witness.

Mysterious Dave Mather

T. C. Nixon, the assistant city marshal, was murdered by Dave Mather, known as “Mysterious Dave,” on the evening of July 21st, 1884. The cause of the shooting was on account of an altercation between the two on the Friday evening previous. In this instance, it is alleged, Nixon had fired on Mather, the shot taking no effect.

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