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Background Image Respectfully, W.B. Masterson Main Splash Image

Respectfully, W.B. Masterson

Date and Time: March 25, 2023

Location: Boot Hill Museum, 500 W Wyatt Earp Blvd, Dodge City
(view on google maps)

In November 1877, William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was elected Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas by three votes. While Bat was known to be quick with his pistols when he felt he was wronged, most of his altercations never involved a shot being fired. The political unrest of early Dodge City is the stuff legends are made of, and Bat being elected by his constituents is no exception.

In early 1873 Bat Masterson, along with his friend Wyatt Earp became law officers in Dodge City. Both were special policemen under Ford County Sheriff Charles Bassett. Masterson saw the importance of protecting right over wrong, but sometimes his vision of what was right or wrong became blurred. A staunch supporter or gambling and girls, two things that generated major income for saloon owners playing host to Texas Cowboys, was not seen as a proper way to make a living by many of Dodge City's Founding Fathers. Masterson supported himself by gambling, and buying stake's in the popular saloons of the day.

In June 1877 Masterson was arrested for interfering with the arrest of local character Bobby Gill. Although the charges were dropped in July, the incident was not soon forgotten by Bat. This is what led to his decision to run for Sheriff.

This companion exhibit to "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America" will be centered around this story of how Bat became a "respected" lawman of Dodge City. Story boards will be presented to visitors with the opinions of Bat and his opponent Larry Deger as recorded in the Newspapers of the day. The platforms of the two will also be listed, but will not be labeled as who was who, and guests will be asked to choose which side they would have voted for before revealing if they voted for Bat Masterson or Larry Deger.

Artifacts not often displayed, such as ballot box and campaign materials that all belonged to the early citizens of Dodge City will be displayed as well.

Sponsored by: Boot Hill Museum


For more information about this event, please contact:
Keith Wondra
(316) 304-1914


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