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 SHORT STORIES: A FRATERNITY OF GUNSLINGERS.  VOL 3

 

         Bill Baily -  Mike McCluskie 

 

August 11, 1871, Newton Kansas. Two men— Billy Bailey and Mike McCluskie, local lawmen—were in the Red Front Saloon deep in conversation. had a differed opinion over the local election taking place that day. A fist fight ensued.  Bailey charged first, took a beating, and was knocked out the front door onto the street. McCluskie charged out of the saloon after him  As he exited the doors  he fired two shots at Bailey, who was still on the ground. It was the second shot hit Bailey in the chest.--he died the following day. Mike McCluskie fled.  A week later, on August 19, McCluskie was back in town, enjoying himself at Tuttle’s Dance Hall. The inquest had found that the shooting as justifiable homicide; Bailey was a noted gunman and a Texan. 2:00 am on that day, three  men entered the Hall: Bill Garrett and Henry Kearns, and Jim Wilkerson, they moseyed up to the bar and waited for their leader Hugh Anderson. Anderson enters with gun in hand walks up to McCluskie calls him a cowardly son-of a-bitch and shoots McCluskie in the neck, McCluskie falls to the floor; Anderson shoots him in the back, twice for good measure. McCluskie is dead. The three men at the bar are shooting wildly to keep the bar patrons at bay while they make their escape.  James Riley, a sickly eighteen year old taken in by McCluskie and cared for stood at the doorway, blocking it.  Riley un-holstered both both guns and fired and fired and fired. When his guns were emptied, five men lied on the dance hall floor dead. James Riley wrote out of town, never to be seen or heard of again.         

Pink Higgins - Merritt Horrell

    May 1876, Lampasas, Texas. Pink Higgins was in town when he noticed a calf that belonged to him tied to a tree in the town square.  Higgins spoke with the butcher and determined. The culprit who stole it was Merritt Horrell.  A complaint was filed, Horrell arrested  and  a trial was held.  Pink (his nickname) had the proof but Merritt was found not guilty.  Horrell had many friends and family and an impartial jury was impossible.  Furious, Pink walked up to Merritt and warned him that if he stole from him again there would be no need for a jury; Pink would deal with the matter himself. 

 

Eight months later, on January 18, 1877,  Pink was inspecting an outgoing herd of livestock when he spotted one of his cows in the mix. When he questioned the owner of the herd, the owner pulled out a bill of sale signed by Merritt Horrell.  Four days later Pink  (his nickname) entered the Jerry Scott’s Saloon.  Four shots from his Winchester ended Merritt Horrell life.  Pink Higgins had held court!

 

 

Long Hair   Jim Courtright - Luke Short Showdown

 

February 8, 1887, The White Elephant Saloon, Hells Half Acre, Fort Worth, Texas. Petite Luke Short, professional gambler, a dandy, was in charge of the gambling section of the saloon when one of the partners came up to inform Short that Jim Courtright was waiting to talk to him.  Courtright, an extremely dangerous gunman  had been demanding  protection money as he did with the the others.  Luke had refused, he perhaps the only man do so.

 On this day Short went to the doorway to see what Courtright wanted. At the doorway, the two men engaged in a deep conversation while slowly moving down the board walk stopping in front of the Arcade. Short had his fingers in his suspenders but dropped his hands to readjust his vest. Courtright thought that Short was about to draw his gun, so he drew his gun, as did  Short. A watch chain got in the  Courtright way -- for a second at most. It was enough time for Short to shoot off Courtright’s right thumb. Courtright attempted the border shift—tossing the gun from one hand to the other—but it was too late, for Short fired repeatedly--five times.  Jim Courtright, was dead before he hit the ground.  Courtright, a past town marshal, and by all accounts a good one, however,  he was a bully and a ruthless killer. Even though he, in his time, was one of the most successful lawmen of the frontier, he laid death on the wooden boardwalk for his attempt to kill Luke Short.

 

 

The Greatest One of Us All

 

Bill Tilghman and his father were both born on the 4th of July; different years, of course.  On July 4, 1888, Bill’s 34th birthday, the two men decided to have a drink in celebration of their joint birthdays. Bill was no longer the Marshal of Dodge City and had picked up a job to oversee and protect the voting pole in the of Leoti for both he and his dad.  

With their job completed, the entered a saloon. Inside two men were wildly  drunk and were shooting their firearms. Knowing Bills reputation, asked Bill to intervene. Bill stepped in and requested the two men, who were shooting their firearms, to calm down.  One man, named Prather took offense, he told others in town that he would get even with Tilghman, thus he made threats on Tilghman’s life.  Bill was made aware of this. 

The following day  as the two neared Dodge the dual decided to have one more drink. They entered a saloon and there was Prather; was ran the bar and still drunk. 

 

 It was around seven o’clock that July 5th.  Bill had one beer.  He paid for their beers, and an argument ensued over being short changed that was returned.  This article  comes from  newspaper  The Leoti Transcript of July 5, 1888. 

 

Quote  “...Prather told Tilghman he had it in for him and at the same time placed his hand on his gun, in an instant Tilghman covered him with a pistol and asked [Prather] to take his hand off his gun, which Prather refused to do. Tilghman knowing he had a desperate character to deal with shot him in the left breast, the ball coming out his back, this did not cause Prather to fall, he remained standing at the bar looking straight at Tilghman and still had his hand on the gun. Tilghman again asked him to take his hand off the pistol but Prather still desisted then Tilghman shot him though the brain which killed him on the spot...” close quote.

 

An inquest was formed and the shooting was determined to be justifiable.  Bill and his father were free to go their way.  

Everybody had guns, it was always deemed justifiable if one was ever threaten, to shoot that person.

This book and its digital version will be publish in the latter part of 2023 by C.R. King, published by RK Enterprises in Norman Oklahoma

The rights of C.R. King to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Patents and Designs Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or to otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. All photographs, illustrations are of public domain unless otherwise noted.

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