William Sidney "Cap"
Light served as an exemplary lawman in Belton,
Soapy Smith convinced him to join his criminal empire.
Light was born around 1864 near Belton, Texas to
merchants W.R. and Eliza Hyatt Light, who originally hailed from
Tennessee. He started out his working life as a barber, but at the age of
20 accepted the position of deputy marshal in Belton. He had barely begun
the job when he was a member of the posse that tracked down and killed a
local outlaw by the name of William Northcott on March 24, 1884.
Three years later, he
married Eva Katherine Smith of Temple, Texas in June
1887. Eva was the sister of Randolph
Jefferson "Soapy” Smith, who Light would later be involved with in
But, for the time
being, Light remained faithful to the law. He and Eva had two
children, William Jeff Light in 1890 and a daughter, Emma Ruby Light
In August 1889, while
Light was helping out the marshal of nearby Temple, Texas, "Cap”
was trying to take a captured prisoner by the name of Ed Cooley to
jail. When Cooley tried to escape, Deputy Light shot him.
A short time later,
in the fall, a man named Sam Hasley, was carrying on drunk and
disorderly in Belton. Hasley, who had been involved in the
feud decades earlier following the
had continued to maintain a rowdy reputation as a trouble maker. When
Light ordered him to go home, Hasley ignored him and began to ride his
horse on the sidewalk, daring Light to do something about it. Light
responded by attempting to arrest the wayward Hasley. But when Sam
pulled his out his gun, Light had little choice to respond and shot
Light killed another
man the following year in March. When Felix Morales was drunk and
creating a ruckus in Temple’s Cotton Exchange Saloon, Light confronted
him. The drunken Morales made the mistake of pulling his gun, but
Light was quicker on the draw and Morales was soon dead on the floor.
According to a local newspaper article of the time, Morales died with
"his pistol in one hand and a beer glass in the other."
Up until 1891, William Light had served
law enforcement in an exemplary capacity. However, it was in this year
that his brother-in-law, the notorious Randolph Jefferson "Soapy”
Smith, convinced him to join him in
Soapy, known as the "King of the
Frontier Con Men," was by then firmly in control of the Denver
underworld crime faction. Light was with Soapy when the gang "attacked” the Glasson Detective Agency.
Allegedly the agency had attempted to force a confession from a pretty
young girl and upon hearing about it, Smith and his men raided their offices with pistols in hand. This
further led to Soapy's reputation as a hero with many of the locals.
next year, when Soapy moved his
operations to the booming silver rush camp of Creede, Colorado, he
convinced Light to go with him. "Cap” soon became a deputy marshal in the
camp and helped Soapy to become the
"boss” of the quickly growing settlement. On March 31, 1892 showed his
gunfighting skills once again when he encountered a drunken William
"Reddy" McCann. "Reddy,” a Creede faro dealer, who had a long gunfighting
history of his own had been drinking heavily all night. By 4:15 a.m.
he was showing his shooting skills by blasting the streets lights in
the camp. By the time Deputy Light confronted him, McCann was back
drinking in the Branch Saloon.
When Light tried to arrest McCann, the drunken man became argumentative
and resisted. Light tried to talk sense into him, but McCann continued to
resist until finally the deputy slapped him in the face, knocking a cigar
out his mouth.