A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of November

Incoming Surf

November 26, 1853 marks the birthdate of prominent lawman, gambler and saloon keeper Bat Masterson.

Born Bartholomew William Barclay Masterson in Henryville, Quebec, Canada, Bat Masterson grew up on a series of family farms in New York, Illinois, and Kansas. In 1873, at the age of twenty, he left home and began working as a buffalo hunter and Indian scout in Dodge City, Kansas.

Over the next decade, Masterson worked intermittently as the Ford County Sheriff from 1877 to 1879 and a deputy United States Marshal in 1879; but he largely made his living as a saloonkeeper and a gambler. During this time, he befriended and became an associate of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, who served both Dodge City, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona. Masterson’s brothers, Ed and James, were also Dodge City lawmen.

Bat Masterson spent his later years in New York City. He became a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and was one of the “White House Gunfighters” who received federal appointments from Roosevelt, along with Pat Garrett and Pat Daniels. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him deputy U.S. Marshal for the southern district of New York, a position that Masterson held until 1907.

Masterson’s enthusiasm for sports, especially prizefighting, led him to become a feature sports writer for Human Life Magazine. Masterson became a leading authority on prizefighting, attending almost every important match and title fight in the United States. This led eventually to Masterson becoming sports editor of the New York Morning Telegraph, a broadsheet newspaper focusing mostly on theater and sport racing. His column covered not only boxing and other sports, but he also gave his opinions on crime, politics, and other topics.

On October 25, 1921, at age 67, Bat Masterson died at his desk from a massive heart attack after writing what became his final column for the Morning Telegraph. About 500 people attended Masterson’s service at Frank E. Campbell’s Funeral Church at Broadway and 66th Street. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York. His full name, William Barclay Masterson, appears above his epitaph on the large granite grave marker in Woodlawn. Masterson’s epitaph states that he was “Loved by Everyone”.

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