Dodge City – Newspaper, Letters, and Book Excerpts

April 13, 1878 – Dodge City Times

Ed Masterson

Ed Masterson

“Died. In this city, on Tuesday, April 9th, in the 26th year of his age, Edward J. Masterson, City Marshal.

The subject of this sketch was born in Henryville, Canada East, on September 22d, 1852, and removed to Wichita, Kansas with his parents in 1869, where he continued to reside until attaining his majority when he left his home and became one of the first inhabitants of this city.

In June 5, 1877 he accepted the appointment of Assistant Marshal, and in the December, 1877, having displayed marked adaptability for the position, he was promoted to the Marshalship, in the discharge of the duties of which he continued until his unfortunate death.

Possessed of a geniality of temperament, a kindness of heart and a richness of personal bravery, he had many warm friends and admirers.

As an officer he followed the dictation of duty, striving at all times for its honest and complete discharge and gaming for himself the dignity and respect that of necessity followed from his determined intrepidity.

He died in the service he performed so well, and has added one other to the list of those who, living, were so many representatives, each of his day and generation, but who dead, belong to all time, and whose voices ring down the ages in solemn protest against the reign of violence and blood.”

July, 1878 – Kokomo, Indiana Dispatch

“The Wickedest City in  America! Its character as a hell, out on the great plains, will be maintained in the minds of traveling newspaper writers, just so long as the city shall remain a rendezvous for the broad and immense uninhabited plains, by narrating the wildest and wickedest phases of Dodge City. … My experience in Dodge was a surprise all around. I found nothing as I pictured it in my mind. I had expected, from the descriptions I had read of it, to find it a perfect bedlam, a sort of Hogathian Gin Alley, where rum ran down the street gutters and loud profanity and vile stenches contended for the mastery of the atmosphere. On the contrary, I was happily surprised to find the place in the daytime as quiet and orderly as a country village in Indiana, and at night the traffic in the wares of the fickle Goddess and human souls was conducted with a system so orderly and quiet as to actually be painful to behold. It is a most difficult task, I confess, to write up Dodge City in a manner to do impartial fairness to every interest; the place has many redeeming points, a few of which I have already mentioned. It is not nearly so awful a place as reports make it. It is not true that the stranger in the place runs a risk of being shot down in cold blood, for no offense whatever.”

July 26, 1878 – Dodge City Times

“Yesterday morning about 3 o’clock this peaceful suburban city was thrown into unusual excitement, and the turmoil was all caused by a rantankerous cowboy who started the mischief by a too free use of his little revolver.

In Dodge City, after dark, the report of a revolver generally means business and is an indication that somebody is on the war path, therefore when the noise of this shooting and the yells of excited voices rang out on the midnight breeze, the sleeping community awoke from their slumbers, listened a while to the click of the revolver, wondered who was shot this time, and then went to sleep again. But in the morning many dreaded to hear the result of the war lest it should be a story of bloodshed and carnage, or of death to some familiar friend. But in this instance there was an abundance of noise and smoke, with no very terrible results.

It seems that three or four herders were paying their respects to the city and its institutions, and as is usually their custom, remained until about 3 o’clock in the morning, when they prepared to return to their camps. They buckled on their revolvers, which they were not allowed to wear around town, and mounted their horses, when all at once one of them conceived the idea that to finish the night’s revelry and give the natives due warning of his departure, he must do some shooting, and forthwith he commenced to bang away, one of the bullets whizzing into a dance hall near by, causing no little commotion among the participants in the “dreamy waltz” and quadrille. Wyatt Earp and James Masterson made a raid on the shootist who gave them two or three volleys, but fortunately without effect. The policemen returned the fire and followed the herders with the intention of arresting them.

The firing then became general, and some rooster who did not exactly understand the situation, perched himself in the window of the dance hall and indulged in a promiscuous shoot all by himself. The herders rode across the bridge followed by the officers. A few yards from the bridge one of the herders fell from his horse from weakness caused by a wound in the arm which he had received during the fracas. The other herder made good his escape. The wounded man was properly cared for and his wound, which proved to be a bad one, was dressed by Dr. T. L. McCarty. His name is George Hoy, and he is rather an intelligent looking young man.”

January 1, 1878 – Letter in the Washington D. C. Evening Star

“Dodge City is a wicked little town. Indeed, its character is so clearly and egregiously bad that one might conclude, were the evidence in these later times positive of its possibility, that it was marked for special Providential punishment. Here those nomads in regions remote from the restraints of moral, civil, social, and law enforcing life, the Texas cattle drovers, from the very tendencies of their situation the embodiment of waywardness and wantonness, end the journey with their herds, and here they loiter and dissipate, sometimes for months, and share the boughten dalliances of fallen women. Truly, the more demonstrative portion of humanity at Dodge City gives now no hopeful sign of moral improvement, no bright prospect of human exaltation; but with Dodge City itself, it will not always be as now. The hamlet of today, like Wichita and Newton farther east in the state, will antagonize with a nobler trait, at some future day, its present outlandish condition. The denizen of little Dodge City declares, with a great deal of confidence, that the region around about the place is good for nothing for agricultural purposes. He says the seasons are too dry, that the country is good for nothing but for grazing, and that all they raise around Dodge is cattle and hell. The desire of his heart is the father of the statement. He is content with just what it is, and he wants that to remain. He wants the cattle droves and his associations and surroundings to be a presence and a heritage forever.”

January, 1878 – Response to Washington article by the Ford County Globe

“We think this correspondent had a sour stomach when he portrayed the wickedness of our city. But we must expect it unless we ourselves try to improve the present condition of things. There is not a more peaceful, well-regulated, and orderly community in the western country.”

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