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Rowdy Joe Lowe


Joseph Thomas Lowe, also known as Rowdy Joe Lowe, born 1846 in Illinois.

Joe Lowe and his wife Kate wandered into Kansas from Illinois where they set up a combination saloon-brothel in West Wichita, Kansas. Following the boom railroad towns they opened similar establishments in Ellsworth and Newton, Kansas.

Joe shot and killed a man in Newton named A. M. Sweet after Sweet threatened to kill Joe. The Topeka Kansas Daily Commonwealth reported Joe immediately surrendered to the Sheriff.

In Wichita, Joe fled custody after killing Kansas-Gunman Edward Beard, AKA Red Beard. Beard was at odds with the dreaded gunman Rowdy Joe Lowe, who had built a saloon next to Beard's (winning in a race to see who could build a dance hall first). On October 27, Beard, drinking heavily, accused one of his prostitutes, Jo DeMerritt, of stealing from him. DeMerritt threw a bottle at him and fled next door to Lowe's saloon. The drunken Beard followed her, staggered into Lowe's, and in the smoke-filled place mistook another prostitute, Annie Franklin, for DeMerritt. He fired a shot which struck the woman in the stomach. Lowe then grabbed a shotgun and exchanged shots with Beard. Lowe's shot missed but Beard's bullet grazed Lowe's neck. A stray bullet struck and wounded bystander Bill Anderson who was standing at the bar. Beard fled and Lowe, as drunk as his quarry, went after him. Both men, mounted horses and raced out of town in a running gunfight. Lowe caught up with Beard near the river bridge and emptied his shotgun into him, then rode back to town where he turned himself in to the sheriff. Beard was found critically wounded with a load of buckshot in the arm and thigh. He clung to life for two weeks, but through loss of blood died.

Next, Joe moved to San Antonio with his "wife" Rowdy Kate. They ran a place in San Antonio called the Clipper, for about 3 years prior to moving to Fort Worth about 1876.

Old West Gambling,Frontier Gambling,Old West

During the short period (1876-9) he lived in Fort Worth, "Rowdy" Joe Lowe owned interests in the following saloon-theaters: Centennial Theatre, My Theatre, Theatre Comique, and the Red Light Saloon.

Shortly after his arrival in town Joe announced his engagement to a Mollie Field, which must have shocked "Rowdy" Kate, his erstwhile traveling companion.

An interview with Mollie Field in 1899 in Denver, she told the press that she had married Joe Lowe in Fort Worth in 1877. A search of marriage records in Fort Worth reveal a license issued on July 31, 1876 to a J. T. Lowe and Mollie Field, and that couple were married on August 2, 1876 by C. W. Berry. Mollie claimed there were 5 other Mrs. Lowes before her!

Joe ended up wandering through Texas and finally settled in Denver, Colorado. While drunk and belligerent Lowe insulted a local Denver Colorado police officer. As tempers flared both men went for their guns and Joe was shot dead.

Joe Lowe is buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.