Posted by: Ron DuBour | April 17, 2012

American Heroes~W.B. BAT MASTERSON (1853-1921)~by rldubour

W.B. BAT MASTERSON (1853-1921)


Bat was born to Irish parents
Was the second of twelve children.
Born on November twenty-fourth
Records of this year were not filled in.

Was either eighteen-fifty-three
Or could be eighteen-fifty-six.
Early details are disputed
From what is written does conflict.

Birth records show Henryville, Quebec
U.S. Census say not the one!
Two countries claim this baby’s birth
Of Catharina and Thomas Masterson.

Could be Illinois or Missouri
These two states are also listed.
Perhaps to improve his image
Some facts are a little twisted.

Finding records of different names
One is William Barclay Masterson.
And in the state of Missouri
Bartholomew is the one.

The eighteen-seventy census
From St. Clair County, Illinois.
List him as Bartholomaeus
Masterson’s baby boy.

Some report that he was called “Bat”
A nickname for Bartholomew.
While others say it was his cane
In fights a “Bat” he chose to use.

Another story for this name
He took up boxing for a sport.
A common nickname in those days
“Bat,” short for battling they report.

In his late teens left his family
With his two brothers Ed and Jim.
To become buffalo hunters,
Found themselves fighting Indians.

His first gunfight in Sweetwater
A Texas town in seventy-six.
The other man died of his wounds
For Bat a hip injury they could not fix.

He served alongside Wyatt Earp
County Sheriff was soon addressed.
By eighty-nine moved to Denver
Married Emmy a local actress.

William Barclay “Bat” Masterson
Lived in the American west.
During a violent and lawless time
For law and order did his best.



 (November 24, 1853 or 1856? October 25, 1921)
Some details of Masterson’s early life are disputed. He is reported to have been born on November 24 of either 1853 or 1856 in either Quebec, Canada, or in Illinois, U.S.A. His birth name was either William Barclay Masterson or Bartholomew Masterson, but it is known that during his adult life he called himself “The Genius.” The 1870 census of St Clair County, Illinois lists him as Bartholomaeus Masterson, age 17, born in Canada.
Some report that he was called “Bat” as a nickname for Bartholomew. A more colorful account is that he was called “Bat” because he carried a cane which he used as a club during fights. “Bat” was also a common nickname for boxers of the day –short for “Battling.”
Masterson was the second of seven children of Thomas and Catharina Masterson, and was raised on farms in New York, Illinois, Kansas and Quebec. In his late teens, he and two of his brothers, Ed and Jim, left their family’s farm in Kansas to become buffalo hunters. While traveling without his brothers he took part in the Battle of Adobe Walls (Texas) fighting against an overwhelming number of Comanche Indians. He then spent some time as a U.S. Army scout in a campaign against the Kiowa and Comanche Indians. He served, alongside Wyatt Earp, as a sheriff’s deputy and within a few months he was elected County Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas. Fighting in Colorado on the Santa Fe side of its war against the Rio Grande railroad, Masterson continued as Ford County sheriff until he was voted out of office in 1879. During this same period his brother Ed was Marshal of Dodge City and was killed in the line of duty April 9, 1878. He visited Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona, leaving shortly before the famous “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. By 1889, he was living in Denver, Colorado, where he was involved with Soapy Smith in the infamous election ballot stuffing scandal. He purchased the Palace Variety Theater and married an actress, Emma Walters, on November 21, 1891. W. B. “Bat” Masterson was a legendary figure of the American West. He lived an adventurous life which included stints as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Army scout, gambler, frontier lawman, U.S. Marshal, and, finally, sports editor and columnist for a New York newspaper.


  1. It’s as good as I rememb—-CREAM OF WHEAT!

  2. […] American Heroes~W.B. BAT MASTERSON (1853-1921)~by rldubour ( […]

  3. […] American Heroes~W.B. BAT MASTERSON (1853-1921)~by rldubour ( […]

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