Bat Masterson (Bat Masterson)

Bat Masterson

American Western Frontier Figure, Journalist.  Born William Barclay Masterson the second of five children, his birthplace is recorded as being either Quebec, Canada or an unknown farm in Illinois. His youth was spent on various farms in the American Midwest and his education consisted of a basic frontier education in series of one room schools.  He ventured from the family farm in Kansas in his late teens becoming a buffalo hunter. Familiarity of the territory led him to the United States Army as a scout who were then combating the Kiowa and Comanche Indians. In his first gunfight, which took place in Sweetwater, Texas, he killed his opponent but sustained a pelvis injury which necessitated utilizing a cane for the rest of his life, gaining him the moniker “Bat” as he often used it on future antagonists.  He became a deputy under Wyatt Earp at Dodge City, Kansas, which led to election as County Sheriff of Ford County but was voted out of office.  He began making a living as a gambler, working various towns in the old west including Tombstone Arizona, where Wyatt Earp had relocated and was now Marshall.  He had another try at law and order, becoming Marshal of Trinidad, Colorado.  He later moved to Denver, Colorado, purchasing the Palace Variety Theater there, and marrying one of the performers. He became a great fan of the sport of boxing, and he was again traveling the boomtowns of the west, gambling while promoting prize fights.  His writing career came into being while penning a weekly sports column for a Denver newspaper.  He opened a boxing athletic club which became a venue for his arranged boxing matches.  Disenchanted with Denver, he relocated to New York City, New York and found a home, becoming enamored with its sporting and theatrical district, its restaurants, hotels and especially the night life. He made the transition from the western frontier to become a metropolitan newspaperman and a prize ring pundit.  The New York “Morning Telegraph” hired Masterson as a sportswriter, then a columnist and finally its sports editor.  Three times a week, for 18 years, his column entitled “Masterson’s Views on Timely Topics” appeared.  Befriended by Damon Runyon who then further immortalized him by featuring him in his popular short stories series where Broadway characters, gangsters, chorus girls, gamblers and bookies came to life.  This collection became the highly successful and popular piece of the American musical theatre, “Guys and Dolls”. Magazine writer Alfred Henry Lewis further popularized the Masterson legend with articles which appeared in national magazines and led to the novel about Masterson, “Sunset Trail”.  He had a special friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt bonded by their mutual love of prizefighting and became a frequent guest at the White House, which culminated in an appointment by the President to the post of Deputy United States Marshal for the southern district of New York.  In October 1921, he returned to work at the “Morning Telegraph” following and illness when he was seized by a heart attack, collapsed over his desk and died age 67.  His body was taken to Campbells, the famous New York City funeral parlor, where a simple service was held in their chapel with burial following in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His large upright marker is emblazoned with the epitaph:  “Loved by Everyone.” (bio by: Donald Greyfield)  Family links:  Parents:  Thomas M. Masterson (1827 – 1921)  Katherine Udora McGurk Masterson (1832 – 1908)  Spouse:  Emma Matilda Walter Masterson (1857 – 1932)*  Siblings:  Edward J. Masterson (1852 – 1878)*  Bat Masterson (1853 – 1921)  James Masterson (1855 – 1895)*  Nellie E. Masterson Cairns (1857 – 1925)*  Thomas Masterson (1858 – 1941)*  George Henry Masterson (1860 – 1892)*  Minnie Emma Masterson (1862 – 1884)* *Calculated relationship


  • November, 26, 1853
  • Canada


  • October, 10, 1921
  • USA


  • Woodlawn Cemetery
  • USA

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