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    W. B. "Bat" Masterson: The Most Important Surviving Manuscript Document from this Famous Western Legend. Robert M. Wright was working on his significant book, Dodge City the Cowboy Capital, which of course would include a discussion of Masterson, one of its best known former citizens. He sent a three page typed draft to Bat for his review, comments and suggested edits. Masterson returned it to Wright with his annotations, and a lengthy missive at the bottom. Amazingly, this note appears to be the most extensive sample of his handwriting and style to have survived! Masterson wrote:

    "My Dear Bob, You have certainly paid a fine tribute to me and my brother, Ed (killed while Marshall of Dodge City, while Bat was Sheriff of Ford County) for which I thank you ever so much. Ed and I arrived at Tom Nixon's Ranch just west of where Dodge City now stands in the fall of 1871 and worked for Nixon as buffalo skinners until the following spring. It was during July and August of 1872 that I billed the R. R. contract for which I drew a blank. Ed and I again skinned buffalo during the fall and winter of 1872-3. After that I hunted for myself. + (Bat)"

    This information about the earliest days of Masterson's arrival in the area was apparently unknown to Wright. Masterson also made other corrections, such as adding the name of Charlie Bassett to a memorable posse led by Bat.

    One of the most interesting anecdotes related by Wright involves Masterson's trip to Ogallahla, Nebraska, to rescue a young Dodge City man named Billy Thompson, who had gotten into trouble there. Wright writes:"Billy was at the only hotel there badly wounded and shot all to pieces. The citizens were down on him, waiting for him to get well enough to hang him". Bat and Billy's brother, Ed were friends, and so he agreed to try to bring the boy out. "I'll go but he don't deserve it," Wright quotes Masterson as saying. After a daring escape the two were on the lam & ended up finding refuge at "William Cody's ranch, who happened to be home. Bill was kind-hearted and always willing to help the weak and needy so they got the best of care and Mr. Cody had several relays of teams stationed overland towards Dodge City. Mr. Cody, I think accompanied them for the first few days (corrected by Bat to "the first day"), Masterson also added a note to clarify that the Mr. Cody in question was "(Buffalo Bill)", and he also noted that the Cody Ranch in question was "in North Platte".

    Finding such long handwritten Bat Masterson sentiments in connection with such an important piece of correspondence in writing the history of Dodge City is an unbeatable combination, quite probably qualifying this as the most significant & desirable Masterson manuscript intact.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    10th Sunday
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