Dodge City – Newspaper, Letters, and Book Excerpts

May 12, 1883 – Topeka Daily Capital

Luke Short is a Texan, who came to Dodge some two years ago, and having been interested in the cattle business himself – as, indeed, he is still – he had an extensive acquaintance with other cattlemen and their employees. At Dodge he engaged in the saloon business with a man named Harris, and his friendly relations with the numerous Texans coming to Dodge has made Harris & Short’s saloon the most popular and profitable one in the city. Mr. Webster, late mayor of Dodge City, is also a saloon keeper, and during his term of office removed from a more remote location to one next door to Harris & Short’s “Long Branch,” on Front Street.

While Short’s popularity has increased, that gentleman modestly stated, Webster’s has declined, and finding it impracticable to secure his re-election to the mayoralty, Webster some weeks before election brought out Mr. Deger as a candidate, against whom Harris, Short’s partner, was nominated.

Deger had been a foreman for Lee & Reynolds, who are engaged in freighting, and had their place of business outside the city limits. About March 1st, however, it is said, Deger began boarding at the hotel in town, in order to gain a legal residence.

The night before election the construction trains of the Santa Fe railroad, manned by men residing at different places scattered along the line, were run into Dodge, and the next morning the men were all on hand, obtained control of the election board by filling vacancies under the forms of law, and voted. Thus Deger was elected by a majority of seventy-one in a poll of between 300 and 400 votes. Deger, Messrs. Short and Petition declare, is a mere creature of Webster.

The saloons of Dodge City, these gentlemen say, are all of similar character including bars for drinking, gambling tables, and games of various kinds, arrangements for variety performances, or at least singing, and all employ women who are admittedly of loose character, and are provided with facilities for plying their business. In addition to the saloons there is a dance house, carried on by a man named Nixon, who was formerly an adherent of Harris, but shortly before election transferred his allegiance to the Deger-Webster party. His place is said to be of the lowest and vilest character.

May 13, 1883 – The Daily Kansas City Journal

“The troubles at Dodge City are assuming serious proportions, and the governor must interfere very soon or a terrible tragedy will undoubtedly result. The men driven out may be men who are classed with the sporting fraternity, but as far as known they are no worse than the men who have been chiefly instrumental in driving them out.

But setting all question of comparative respectability aside, the whole affair resolves itself into a matter of victory for superior force, and not law. Luke Short, the chief of the band of men lately exiled, has his interests in the town, and claims he has been wronged. The vigilantes who drove him and his friends away assert that they are evil characters. Law has been set aside and force is the sole resort. Governor Click has been attempting to preserve the peace, but so far has made no great progress. The sheriff acknowledges that he cannot protect the exiled men should they return, and so the matter stands at present.

Doc Holliday in 1879

Doc Holliday in 1879

Yesterday a new man arrived on the scene who is destined to play a part in a great tragedy. This man is Bat Masterson, ex-sheriff of Ford county, and one of the most dangerous men the West has ever produced. A few years ago he incurred the enmity of the same men who drove Short away, and he was exiled upon pain of death if he returned. His presence in Kansas City means just one thing, and that is he is going to visit Dodge City. Masterson precedes by twenty-four hours a few other pleasant gentlemen who are on their way to the tea party at Dodge. One of them is Wyatt Earp, the famous marshal of Dodge, another is Joe Lowe, otherwise known as “Rowdy Joe,” and still another is “Shotgun” Collins; but worse than all is another ex-citizen and officer of Dodge, the famous Doc Holliday.

A brief history of the careers of these gentlemen who will meet here tomorrow will explain the gravity of the situation. At the head is Bat Masterson. He is a young man who is credited with having killed one man for every year of his life. This may be exaggerated, but he is certainly entitled to a record of a dozen or more. He is a cool, brave man, pleasant in his manners, but terrible in a fight, and particularly dangerous to the ruling clique, which he hates bitterly, Doc Holliday is another famous “killer.” Among the desperate men of the West, he is looked upon with the respect born of awe, for he has killed in single combat no less than eight desperadoes. He was the chief character in the Earp war atTombstone, where the celebrated brothers, aided by Holliday, broke up the terrible rustlers.

Wyatt Earp is equally famous in the cheerful business of depopulating the country. He has killed within our personal knowledge six men, and he is popularly accredited with relegating to the dust no less than ten of his fellow men. “Shot-Gun” Collins was a Wells, Fargo & Co. messenger, and obtained his name from the peculiar weapon he used, a sawed off shot gun. He has killed two men in Montana and two in Arizona, but beyond this his exploits are not known. Luke Short, the man for whom these men have rallied, is a noted man himself. He has killed several men and is utterly devoid of fear. There are others who will make up the party, but as yet they have not yet arrived.

This gathering means something, and it means exactly that these men are going to Dodge City. They have all good reason to go back. Masterson says he wants to see his old friends. Short wants to look after his business. Earp and Holliday, who are old deputy sheriffs of Dodge, also intend visiting friends, so they say, and Collins is going along to keep the others company. “Rowdy Joe,” who has killed about ten men, and is the terror of Colorado, goes about for pleasure. Altogether, it is a very pleasant party. Their entrance into Dodge will mean that a desperate fight will take place. Governor Glick has, up to the present time, failed to preserve order, and unless he takes some determined action within the next twenty-tour hours, the men swear they will go to Dodge and protect themselves. For the good of the state of Kansas, it is hoped the governor will prevent violence.”

May 13, 1883 – The Daily Kansas City Journal

“Luke Short over whom all this Dodge City excitement and sensation has been created, don’t look like a man that would be dangerous to let live in any community. In fact he is a regular dandy, quite handsome, and Dr. Galland says, a perfect ladies man. He dresses fashionably, is particular as to his appearance, and always takes pains to look as neat as possible. At Dodge City he associates with the very best element, and leads in almost every social event that is gotten up. Dr. Galland thinks the ladies will yet be heard from in Mr. Short’s behalf. They have been very anxious to get up a petition among themselves to send the governor and it will probably come yet.”

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