William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a legendary figure of the Western Frontier. He lived an adventurous life which included : buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, frontier lawman, U.S. Marshal, and sports editor and columnist for a New York newspaper, along with Professional Gambler.
Born Bartholmiew Masterson in Canada in 1853 and by his very nature, Bat was a genial, lovable character, extremely loyal and a lover of practical jokes, even when played on himself.
Famous for the part he played in the Adobe Walls fight and as a Lawman, Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas Bat left home at the tender age of 17. In 1870 he was hunting buffalo with his older brother when he met a young strapping man named Wyatt Earp. It was at that time that Bat also cut his teeth on whiskey and began learning the fine art of gambling.
At the Lady Gay, a Sweetwater saloon and dance hall, Bat notched his only fatality in a gunfight. Trouble erupted between Bat and Corporal Melvin A. King over a saloon gal named Molly Brennan. On the night of January 24, 1876, Corporal King barged into the Lady Gay, finding Bat and Molly together he opened fire. As the story goes, Molly threw herself in front of Bat as King fired. Both Molly and Bat were hit and as Bat fell to the floor he returned fire killing King. Sadly, Molly died from her wounds. Bat eventually recovered from his wounds after a long period of recovery and the use of a cane.
Bat eventually ended up in Dodge City, where he opened a saloon. On June 9, 1877 he brawled with City Marshal Larry Deger. Deger had arrested a small man named Bobby Gill and was prodding him off to jail and took the liberty of repeatedly kicking Gill's backside. Bat took exception to such treatment and grabbed Deger around the neck. With the help of bystanders, the 300 pound lawman, pistol whipped and arrested Masterson.
Shortly after this incident Bat secured an appointment as undersheriff of Ford County and eventually relieved Deger of his commission as a deputy sheriff. In the fall, Bat and Deger opposed each other for the Sheriff's position with Bat winning by 3 votes. He garnered additional authority in January 1879 by accepting appointment as a deputy U. S. Marshal.
In the late 1880's Bat owned and operated the Palace Theater and Saloon in Denver, Colorado. It is also known that either before or after the Palace Theater Bat owned or managed the Denver Exchange and came between Soapy Smith and dealer Jeff Argyle as Soapy was about to shoot Argyle. Bat was able to talk both men into putting their guns away and peace was restored.
Early in 1881, Bat was hired by Wyatt Earp as a dealer at the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, A.T. Also working for Wyatt at that time was Doc Holliday and Luke Short.
In February 1883 Bat answered the call for help from gambling buddy Luke Short. Short had been abused and run out of Dodge City by Bat's old foe Larry Deger. This dust-up became known as the Dodge City War, a war in which no shots were fired.
Bat was working at his desk on the morning of October 25, 1921 for the New York Morning Telegraph when he died of a heart attack.