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west on horseback, intending to try to intercept the robbers if possible. Assistant
Marshal Ed. Masterson and Deputy Sheriff [Miles] Mix went west the same day
to find out what they could about the men who crossed the road. They could
learn nothing of any importance except that the men had been seen on Thursday
morning, but no one had taken particular notice of them. Masterson and Mix
returned the same evening.

Nothing has been heard from Sheriff Bassett and his men since they started
from here yesterday morning.

Quite likely the Bassett posse did not catch up with the bandits
for no further word of the chase was printed.

Later, Sheriff Bassett was embarrassed by a jail break, as the
Dodge City Times reported October 27:



. . . When Sheriff Bassett heard that his bird had flown he looked as
sorrow-stricken as if he had lost his dearest friend, and immediately sought to
find his prodigal and return him to his keeper, but George was still on the wing
at last accounts. The following card shows that the sheriff means business:


The above reward will be paid for the apprehension of Geo. W. Wil-
son, who broke jail at this place on the night of October 22d. Wilson is
5 feet 11 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes, good looking, straight built,


22 years old, small moustache and gotee, has a scar from a pistol shot in
his back, wore dark clothes and a wide-rimmed white hat.

Sheriff Ford county, Kansas.

In December, while still sheriff, Bassett received an additional
law enforcement duty. "Sheriff Bassett has been appointed by
Mayor [James H.] Kelley to assist Marshal [Edward J.] Masterson
in preserving order and decorum in the city. Mr. Bassett has had
thorough training, and is a good man for the place/' said the Times,
December 15, 1877. Bassett's salary in this position was the same
as the marshal's, $75 per month. 6

Limited by the state constitution, Bassett could not run for a
successive third regular term as sheriff. On January 14, 1878, he
was replaced by William B. Masterson who had been elected on
November 6. One of Bat's first acts as sheriff of Ford county was
to appoint Bassett his under sheriff. 7

In February and March, 1878, Bassett spent much of his time
pursuing the men who had attempted to hold up a Santa Fe train
at Kinsley on January 27. Since he was, in this episode, the sub-
ordinate of Bat Masterson the full account of the pursuit will be
given in the section on W. B. Masterson.

Early in April, 1878, three men from George Grant's English
colony at Victoria came to Dodge to join Mayor James H. Kelley,
Charles Bassett, and James Martin in a buffalo hunt. The party
left Dodge April 4 and headed for a spot 75 miles southwest where
they expected to find bison. They were gone about a week. When
they returned Bassett found that City Marshal Edward J. Master-
son had been killed by drunken cowboys. The city council of
Dodge lost little time in appointing Assistant Marshal Bassett to
the higher position and shortly thereafter he was given a salary
increase to $100 per month. 8

During the summer of 1878 Deputy United States Marshal H. T.
McCarty was shot and killed in the Long Branch saloon; Cowboy
George Hoy was shot by the Dodge City police and in September
the cross state journey of Dull Knife's band of Cheyenne Indians
threw the town into a frenzy of excitement. Toward the end of the
cattle season Fannie Keenan, alias Dora Hand, was shot and killed.
City Marshal-Under Sheriff Bassett participated in the pursuit and
capture of Miss Keenan's alleged murderer, James Kennedy, but
this tale, again, properly belongs to the sheriff of Ford county and
details of the chase may be found under W. B. Masterson.


In reporting the January term of the Ford county district court
the Dodge City Times, January 11, 1879, had this to say concerning
the efficiency of the county peace officers:

The large criminal calendar suggests the "probability" of an "endeavor"
on the part of the officers to do their duty. To an unprejudiced person, some-
body has been making things lively. Sheriff Bat Masterson, Under Sheriff
Bassett, and Deputies [William] Duffy and [James] Masterson, have evidently
earned the high praise accorded to them for their vigilance and prompt action
in the arrest of offenders of the law.

On February 15 Bassett, Sheriff Masterson and others were at
Fort Leavenworth to pick up seven Cheyenne prisoners from the
military authorities. The Indians, members of Dull Knife's band,
were accused of committing atrocities during their September,
1878, flight across Kansas and were to be taken to Dodge City for
trial. Further details may be found under W. B. Masterson.

April 5, 1879, saw one of Dodge's more famous killings and City
Marshal Bassett played a role in the story as reported by the Ford
County Globe on April 8:



There is seldom witnessed in any civilized town or country such a scene
as transpired at the Long Branch saloon, in this city, last Saturday evening,
resulting in the killing of Levi Richardson, a well known freighter, of this city,
by a gambler named Frank Loving.

For several months Loving has been living with a woman toward whom
Richardson seems to have cherished tender feelings, and on one or two oc-
casions previous to this which resulted so fatally, they have quarrelled and even
come to blows. Richardson was a man who had lived for several years on the
frontier, and though well liked in many respects, he had cultivated habits
of bold and daring, which are always likely to get a man into trouble. Such
a disposition as he posessed might be termed bravery by many, and indeed
we believe he was the reverse of a coward. He was a hard working, indus-
trious man, but young and strong and reckless.

Loving is a man of whom we know but very little. He is a gambler by
profession; not much of a roudy, but more of the cool and desperate order,
when he has a killing on hand. He is about 25 years old. Both, or either
of these men, we believe, might have avoided this shooting if either had
posessed a desire to do so. But both being willing to risk their lives, each
with confidence in himself, they fought because they wanted to fight. As
stated in the evidence below, they met, one said "I don't believe you will
fight." The other answered "try me and see/' and immediately both drew
murderous revolvers and at it they went, in a room filled with people, the
leaden missives flying in all directions. Neither exhibited any sign of a desire
to escape the other, and there is no telling how long the fight might have
lasted had not Richardson been pierced with bullets and Loving's pistol left


without a cartridge. Richardson was shot in the breast, through the side
and through the right arm. It seems strange that Loving was not hit, except
a slight scratch on the hand, as the two men were so close together that
their pistols almost touched each other. Eleven shots were fired, six by
Loving and five by Richardson. Richardson only lived a few moments after
the shooting. Loving was placed in jail to await the verdict of the coroner's
jury, which was "self defense," and he was released. Richardson has no rela-
tives in this vicinity. He was from Wisconsin. About twenty-eight years old.

Together with all the better class of our community we greatly regret this
terrible affair. We do not believe it is a proper way to settle difficulties,
and we are positive it is not according to any law, human or divine. But if
men must continue to persist in settling their disputes with fire arms we would
be in favor of the duelling system, which would not necessarily endanger the
lives of those who might be passing up or down the street attending to their
own business.

We do not know that there is cause to censure the police, unless it be to
urge upon them the necessity of strictly enforcing the ordinance preventing
the carrying of concealed weapons. Neither of these men had a right to carry
such weapons. Gamblers, as a class, are desperate men. They consider it
necessary in their business that they keep up their fighting reputation, and
never take a bluff. On no account should they be allowed to carry deadly
weapons. . . .

The newspaper then gave the testimonies of individuals who had
knowledge of the shooting but since they are so similar we give here
only those of Adam Jackson, bartender at the Long Branch, City
Marshal Bassett, and Deputy Sheriff William Duffey.

Adam Jackson, bar-tender at the Long Branch, testified as follows:

"I was in the Long Branch saloon about 8 or 9 o'clock Saturday evening.
I know Levi Richardson. He was in the saloon just before the fuss, standing
by the stove. He started to go out and went as far as the door when Loving
came in at the door. Richardson turned and followed back into the house.
Loving sat down on the hazard table. Richardson came and sat near him on
the same table. Then Loving immediately got up, making some remark to
Richardson, could not understand what it was. Richardson was sitting on
the table at the time, and Loving standing up. Loving says to Richardson:
If you have anything to say about me why don't you come and say it to my
face like a gentleman, and not to my back, you dam son of a bitch/ Richard-
son then stood up and said: *You wouldn't fight anything, you dam ' could
not hear the rest. Loving said 'you try me and see/ Richardson pulled his
pistol first, and Loving also drew a pistol. Three or four shots were fired when
Richardson fell by the billiard table. Richardson did not fire after he fell.
He fell on his hands and nees. No shots were fired after Richardson fell.
No persons were shooting except the two mentioned. Loving's pistol snapped
twice and I think Richardson shot twice before Loving's pistol was discharged.

A. A. JACKSON. . . .

Chas. E. Bassett testified: "When I first heard the firing I was at Beatty
& Kelley's saloon. Ran up to the Long Branch as fast as I could. Saw Frank
Loving, Levi Richardson and Duffey. Richardson was dodging and running
around the billiard table. Loving was also running and dodging around the


table. I got as far as the stove when the shooting had about ended. I caught
Loving's pistol. Think there was two shots fired after I got into the room,
am positive there was one. Loving fired that shot, to the best of my knowledge.
Did not see Richardson fire any shot, and did not see him have a pistol. I
examined the pistol which was shown me as the one Richardson had. It con-
tained five empty shells. Richardson fell while I was there. Whether he
was shot before or after I came in am unable to say. I think the shots fired
after I came in were fired by Loving at Richardson. Richardson fell immedi-
ately after the shot I heard. Did not see any other person shoot at Richardson.
Did not see Duffey take Richardson's pistol. Do not know whether Loving
knew that Richardson's pistol had been taken away from him. There was
considerable smoke in the room. Loving's pistol was a Remington, No. 44
and was empty after the shooting.


Wm. Duffey testified: "I was at the Long Branch saloon. I know Levi
Richardson, who is now dead. I know 'cock-eyed Frank* ( Loving ) Both were
there at the time. I heard no words pass between them. They had fired several
shots when Frank fell by the table by the stove. I supposed that he was shot.
I then had a scuffle with Richardson, to get his pistle, and threw him back
on some chairs. Succeeded in getting his pistol. There might have been a
shot fired by one or the other while we were scuffling. Cannot say whether
Richardson had been shot previous to that time, but think he had, as he was
weak and I handled him easily. Richardson then got up and went toward the
billiard table and fell. I can't swear whether any shots were fired at Richardson
by Loving after Richardson was disarmed. Don't think Loving knew I had
taken the pistol from Richardson. It was but a few seconds after I took
Richardson's pistol that he fell. WILLIAM DUFFEY. . . ."

Five months later City Marshal Bassett again disarmed the victor
of a fatal quarrel. The Ford County Globe carried the story on
September 9, 1879:




Dodge City has added another item to her history of blood, and rum has
found another victim.

Yesterday afternoon B. Martin and A. H. Webb became involved in a dispute
in a saloon on Main street. Many complimentary allusions to the parentage,
habits and previous history of the parties, usually passed during such scenes
in Dodge circles, were freely bandied between the two, ending by Webb
knocking Martin down. Martin, who was a remarkably small man, generally
inoffensive and timid, made an apology to Webb for some of his strongest
epithets, and then went out and sat upon a bench in front of his little tailor
shop adjoining Henry Sturm's saloon. Webb seemed to be very little placated
by the submission of his little antagonist. He walked up Main street, threaten-
ing more vengeance at every step. He went into Zimmerman's hardware store
and asked Mr. Connor to loan him a pistol, but he was refused. He then went
to his house on the hill, saddled his horse, got his Winchester rifle and returned
to Main street. He hitched his horse at Straeter's corner, walked to where


Martin was seated, raised the rifle with both hands and brought the barrel of
it down on Martin's head with terrific force. Martin fell like a log and never
was conscious afterward.

Webb then jumped for his horse to make off. The murderous blow, how-
ever, had been seen by several persons, who ran to prevent the escape. Marshal
Bassett seized him and took away his rifle, which was found to be loaded and
cocked. He was first taken to the calaboose, but a crowd gathering quickly,
among whom were some who favored lynching, the sheriff deemed it prudent
to remove the prisoner to the county jail. . . .

On October 21, 1879, the Ford County Globe told of another
railway robbery:


At 1:45 Wednesday morning, Mr. J. M. Thatcher, Gen'l Ag't Express Co.,
received a telegram informing him of the express train at Las Vegas having
been taken in by masked robbers. With Messrs. [Harry E.] Gryden, Bassett
and [Chalkley M.] Beeson he immediately left for Las Vegas. From Judge
Gryden, who returned this morning, we learn the following particulars.

The night being rainy five men entered the Express car immediately on
leaving Las Vegas. Covering the conductor Mr. Turner, the messenger Mr.
Monroe, and the baggage master, and compelling the messenger to open the
safe "dam quick." The booty consisted of two $1,000 bills, $85.50 in C. O. D.
packages and $1,000 in time checks of the A. T. & S. F. R. R., a package of
$245 was overlooked. The three revolvers of the conductor, messenger and
baggage master was also taken from them and all the lanterns, the parties
then left the train without stopping it. Two of them have through the efficiency
of Mr. Thatcher been arrested at Las Vegas, the others are known and will be
caught. It was a neat and prompt job; but between Messrs. Thatcher and
Judge Gryden they will, we have no doubt, be all landed in the penitentiary.

On November 4, 1879, the Globe reported that "Ex-Sheriff Charles
E. Bassett returned last week from New Mexico, where he has been
for the past ten days in the interest of the Adams express company."
The day the Globe came out the city council met and appointed
James Masterson city marshal to replace Bassett who had by then
resigned. 9

On December 23 Bassett was reported to be in St. Louis, Mo.,
but by January 6, 1880, when the January term of the Ford
county district court convened, he was back in Dodge for duty as
deputy sheriff. 10 His name appeared in the newspapers a few times
in minor items which stated that he took prisoners to the penitentiary,
but apparently nothing of note happened to him for the remainder
of his stay in Dodge City. On April 27, 1880, the Ford County
Globe noted his exit from town: "Ex-Sheriff Chas. E. Bassett, ac-
companied by Mysterious Dave [Mather] and two other prospectors,
started out last week in search of 'greener fields and pastures new/
They went in a two-horse wagon, after the style in the days of '49.'*


The Times, May 1, stated that he was headed for the Gunnison

The newspapers of Dodge City did not mention Bassett again for
over 16 months. On September 13, 1881, the Globe noticed his
return in this article: "Charles E. Bassett, ex-sheriff of Ford county,
and formerly city marshal of Dodge City one of the old timers
arrived the city last Tuesday after an absence of a year and a half.
Charley looks as natural as life, wears good clothes, and says Texas
is suffering from dry weather/' On September 8, two days after his
return, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for sheriff, 11 but
two weeks later he was in Kansas City and apparently planning to
stay, judging from this item in the Times, September 22, 1881: "Hon.
C. E. Bassett, a well known cattle man of Kansas and Texas, re-
turned to the city yesterday after a brief stay at Dodge City. He
will remain here for some time. Kansas City Journal. Jim Kelley
has charge of Mr. Bassett's herds during his absence/'

Another 18 months passed before the name of Charles E. Bassett
again appeared in the Dodge City newspapers. The Ford County
Globe of March 20, 1883, reported that he had been in Dodge City
from Kansas City "the first of last week and spent a day or two in
our city visiting old-time friends/'

Bassett was again in Dodge City in June, 1883, along with several
other prominent Western gun fighters, to aid Luke Short in his
quarrel with the city authorities. (For further information see the
section on Short. )

Twice more, on January 1, 1884, 12 and April 7, 1885, 13 Bassett was
mentioned as being in Dodge City. No further contemporary in-
formation has been found on the Dodge City career of Charles E.

1. "Ford County, Briefing of Commissioners' Journals" (transcribed by the Historical
Records Survey of the Work Projects Administration, in archives division, Kansas State
Historical Society), pp. 2, 4, 18. 2. Topeka Daily Commonwealth, April 21, 1876. 3.
"Governors' Correspondence," archives division, Kansas State Historical Society. 4. Ibid.
5. Ibid. 6. Dodge City Times, January 5, 1878. 7. Ibid., January 12, 19, 1878. 8.
Ibid., April 6-20, May 4, 11, 1878; Ford County Globe, April 16, 1878. 9. Dodge City
Times, November 15, 1879. 10. Ford County Globe, December 23, 1879; Dodge City
Times, January 10, 1880. 11. Dodge City Times, September 8, 1881. 12. Ford County
Globe. 13. The Globe Live Stock Journal.



On June 10, 1882, P. W. Beamer was named to the Dodge City
police force. The Ford County Globe, June 13, 1882, reported the
appointment in this article:


We congratulate our city officials in their wise and judicious selection of
police officers last Saturday.

P. W. Beamer, as city marshal, is a good selection in fact one of the best
that could be made at this time. Mr. Beamer is one of our best citizens an
earnest, unassuming citizen temperate in his habits, and a person especially
suited for the place. Lee Harland and Clark Chipman, as policemen, are
both nervy fellows and are, if we do not misjudge them, the proper men
for the positions named.

The mayor has adopted a set of rules for the especial guidance and ob-
servance of the police force, which, if carried out, will be an additional in-
centive to have officers perform their duties. He insists that these rules must
be observed or he will speedily remove any officer that violates them.

The rules which Mayor A. B. Webster adopted were printed in
the Dodge City Times, June 22, 1882:


1. Each and every member of the Police force shall devote his whole time
and attention to the business of the department, and is hereby prohibited from
following any other calling. They must at all times be prepared to act im-
mediately on notice that their services are required.

2. Punctual attendance and conformity to the rules of the department
will be strictly enforced.

3. Each and every member must be civil, quiet and orderly; he must
maintain decorum, command of temper and discretion.

4. They must not compound any offense committed or withdraw any
complaint unless authorized by the Mayor.

5. All officers on duty must wear the star or shield on the outside garment
on the left breast.

6. No member of the police force while on duty shall drink any intoxicating
liquor or allow any to be introduced into the city jail.

7. No member shall leave the city or be absent from duty without per-
mission from the Mayor.

8. They must not render assistance in civil cases except to prevent an
immediate breach of the peace, or quell a disturbance.

9. Every member will be furnished with a copy of these regulations and
is expected to familiarize himself with the same and also with the city

10. The members of the police force will as soon as practicable after
making an arrest report the same to the City Attorney and execute, under
his directions, the proper papers, and promptly attend the police court at the
hour set for trial of causes.


11. Every officer will be held responsible for the proper discharge of his
duties; following the advice of others will be no excuse, unless he be a superior

12. The City Attorney will furnish information on legal matters on any
officer's request, and will be responsible to the Mayor and Council for their

13. The presence of any infectious disease must be promptly reported to
the Mayor.

14. A memorandum of all property taken from prisoners by the marshal or
police, must be handed to the City Attorney, to be by him filed with a note
of final disposition in the police court.

A. B. WEBSTER, Mayor.

Less than three weeks after assuming the office of city marshal
Beamer quit. "During the past week City Marshal P. W. Beamer
handed to Mayor Webster his resignation as City Marshal of Dodge
City the same to take effect at once. Just what induced Mr. Beamer
to take this step we were unable to learn. Mayor Webster assumes
the duties of the office until such time as he may be enabled to
fill the office/' reported the Globe on June 27, 1882.


(1840? )

John Behrens' appointment as policeman on the Wichita force
was confirmed by the city council on May 6, 1874. x

On July 24, 1874, he assisted in jailing a prisoner who had over-
come his guard while on a street gang. After his recapture
another officer began to beat the prisoner but was stopped by
Behrens. (For the complete story see the section on William

In October, 1874, Behrens and Wyatt Earp, at the instance of a
Wichita merchant, collected an unpaid bill at gunpoint some 75
miles from the city. (The article reporting this incident is in-
cluded in the section on Earp.)

Behrens was promoted to assistant city marshal on April 21,
1875, at a salary of $75 per month. 2

In May "Behrens and Earp picked up a horse thief by the name
of Compton from Coffey County . . . with the property in
his possession," and in July "John Behrens picked up a deserter
from the 4th U. S. Cavalry on Friday. . . . 3

Marshal Mike Meagher and Assistant Marshal Behrens were
credited with the arrest of three thieves on November 5, 1875.
The Wichita City Eagle, November 11, reported that "Wm. Potts
and two colored men were arrested here last Friday by city Mar-
shal, Mike Meagher and Assistant John Behrens, charged with


stealing eight yoke of cattle and two wagons at Fort Sill, which
property was found in their possession. The parties were lodged
in jail." The Wichita Beacon, gave Wyatt Earp and Meagher
credit for this arrest. 4

Also in its issue of November 11, 1875, the Eagle reported that
"Ed. Hays was arrested and confined in jail Monday evening by
Assistant Marshal Behrens, on information received by letter from

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 2 of 59)