Bat Masterson might conjure up images of the television show that ran in the late 1950s to early 1960s; however, Bat Masterson was actually a real person, not just a fictional creation for a Western TV show. William Barclay Masterson was born in 1853 and died in 1921. Masterson was a well known figure for his time, being a prominent US Marshal, Army Scout, and buffalo hunter in the Old West. Among his other accomplishments were fishing, gambling, and sports editing. He was a columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph later in his life. He was also a brother to James and Ed Masterson. These two brothers, like Bat, were lawmen on the frontier. Bat Masterson was baptised Bartholomew Masterson, but changed his name to William Barclay. The Bat probably came from Bartholomew. Masterson hailed from eastern Canada despite spending most of his life in Texas. He killed quite a few Comanche during the Battle of Adobe Walls. The first gunfight he was in took place in 1876. He was wounded with a shot to the pelvis. He survived while others did not. He spent time in Dodge City, Kansas. It was during his many travels that he also met Wyatt Earp. He worked for a short time as Earp’s deputy. Masterson also fought in Colorado, Tombstone Arizona, and other western regions.
During the 1880s Masterson began playing Oriental Faro. It was during this time he became known in Denver, Colorado as a dealer of Faro for Big Ed Chase. He worked at the Arcade Gambling House. He purchased the Palace Variety Theatre in 1888 with his earnings. In 1891, he married actress Emma Walters. Masterson tended to move around and be involved in many things such as the silver boom in Creede, Colorado. Although he did enjoy gambling both with Faro and his life, Masterson also enjoyed promoting prize fights. Most of his travels included gambling and prize fights after his marriage to Emma. He also opened the Olympic Athletic Club in order to promote boxing.
Bat Masterson became so publically known due to a practical joke given that his kills on fellow men were only six discounting the time in the Army against Native Americans. A gullible newspaperman wrote about the “horrific 26 kills” Bat supposedly had. The story was printed in the New York Sun.
In 1902, Bat moved to New York City. He was arrested for illegal gambling. Yet, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Masterson as deputy US Marshall a little bit later after a mutual friend recommended the job. He worked the southern district of New York. Masterson died in 1921 from a heart attack. He collapsed at his desk in New York at the age of 67. His grave is at Woodlawn. Masterson was much more than just a gambler though he did get into trouble for his gambling deeds a time or two. He spent much of his last years as a newspaper editor, finally settling down from the lawman life he always had.