Edward Masterson

Edward Masterson

Edward Masterson was born in Henryville, Ontario, on 22nd September, 1852. His family moved to Wichita in 1869 and three years later Edward and his two brothers, Bat Masterson and James Masterson, became buffalo hunters.

Masterson became a assistant marshal in Dodge City in July 1877. Later that year he was shot in the chest by Bob Shaw in the Lone Star Dance Hall. When he recovered he replaced Larry Deger as city marshall.

On 15th March, 1878, Masterson joined with Charles Bassett and Bat Masterson, the sheriff of Ford County, to capture two train robbers. Later that month Masterson announced a new scheme where vagrants found in Dodge City would be put to work.

On 9th April, 1878, Edward Masterson was shot while trying to disarm a drunken cowboy. He died soon afterwards. Jack Wagner, the man who shot him, died the next day.

Primary Sources

(1) Dodge City Times (10th November, 1877)

Last Monday afternoon one of those little episodes which serve to vary the monotony of frontier existence occurred at the Lone Star dance hall, during which four men came out some the worse for wear; but none, with one exception, being seriously hurt.

Bob Shaw, the man who started the amusement, accused Texas Dick alias Moore of having robbed him of forty dollars, and when the two met in the Lone Star the ball was opened.

Somebody, foreseeing possible trouble, and probable gore, started out in search of Assistant City Marshal Ed. Masterson, and finding him hurried the officer to the scene of the impending conflict.

When Masterson entered the door he descried Shaw by the bar with a huge pistol in his hand and a hogshead of blood in his eye, ready to relieve Texas Dick of his existence in this world and send him to those shades where troubles come not and six shooters are not known.

Not wishing to hurt Shaw, but anxious to quiet matters and quell the disturbance officer Masterson first ordered him to give up his gun. Shaw refused to deliver and told Masterson to keep away from him, and after saying this he again proceeded to try to kill Texas Dick. Officer Masterson then gently tapped the belligerent Shaw upon the back of the head with the butt of his shooting iron, merely to convince him of the vanities of this frail world and to teach him that all isn't lovely even when the goose does hang antitudilum. The aforesaid reminder upon the back of the head, however failed to have the desired effect, and instead of dropping, as any man of fine sensibilities would have done, Shaw turned his battery upon the officer and let him have it in the right breast, the ball striking a rib and passing around came out under the right shoulder blade, paralyzing his right arm so that it was useless, so far as handling a pistol was concerned. Masterson fell but grasping his pistol in his left had he returned the fire giving it to Shaw in the left arm and the left leg, rendering him hors du combat.

During the melee Texas Dick was shot in the right groin, making a painful and dangerous though not necessarily a fatal wound, while Frank Buskirk who, impelled by a curiosity he could not control, was looking in at the door upon the matinee, received a reminiscence in the left arm, which had the effect of starting him out to hunt a surgeon. Nobody was killed, but for a time it looked as though the undertaker and the coroner would have something to do. The nerve and pluck displayed by officer Masterson reflects credit both upon himself and the city, which has reason to congratulate itself upon the fact that it has a guardian who shirks no responsibility and who hesitates not to place himself in danger when duty requires.

(2) Dodge City Times (8th December, 1877)

City Marshal Edward Masterson receives the congratulations of his many friends without a show of exhalation. Notwithstanding the fact that considerable feeling was manifested against the removal of Mr. Deger, no one accuses Mr. Masterson of seeking the position. In fact he preferred to retain his old position as Assistant, which gave him the same salary and engendered less responsibilities. As an officer his reputation is made, and it is a good one.

(3) Dodge City Times (30th March, 1878)

City Marshal Masterson contemplates organizing a tramp brigade for the purpose of clearing the streets and alleys of the filth and rubbish that has been accumulating for a year or so. There are about thirty tramps now sojourning among us, all of whom have no visible means of support and are liable to arrest under the vagrant act.

(4) Ford County Globe (10th April, 1878)

At ten o'clock last night. City Marshal Edward Masterson, discovered that a cowboy who was working for Obum of Kansas City, named Jack Wagner, was carrying a six-shooter contrary to the City Ordinance. Wagner was at the time under the influence of liquor, but quietly gave up the pistol. The Marshal gave it to some of Wagner's friends for safe keeping and stepped out into the street. No sooner had he done so than Wagner ran out after him pulling another pistol, which the Marshal had not observed. The Marshal saw him coming and turned upon Wagner and grabbed hold of him.

Wagner shot Marshal Masterson at once through the abdomen, being so close to him that the discharge set the Marshal's clothes on fire. Marshal Masterson then shot Wagner.

About this time a man named Walker got mixed up in the fight. He, it appears, was boss herder for Obum, and Wagner was working under him. He also got shot once through the left lung, and his right arm was twice broken.

Marshal Masterson walked across the street to George M. Hoover's saloon, where after telling that he was shot, he sank to the floor. He was immediately removed to his room, where in half an hour he expired.

Walker and Wagner were nearly all night insensible, and none thought that either of them could live through the night. However, morning has come and neither are dead; both are in a very precarious condition and their chances for recovery very small.

The city is in mourning; every door is draped with crape; business is entirely suspended till after the funeral of Marshal Masterson, which will take place at two o'clock p. m., and will be attended by everybody in the city.

Marshal Masterson will be buried in the Military Cemetery, at Fort Dodge.

(5) Dodge City Times (13th April, 1878)

Died. In this city, on Tuesday, April 9th, in the 26th year of his age, Edward J. Masterson, City Marshal.

The subject of this sketch was born in Henryville, Canada East, on September 22d, 1852, and removed to Wichita, Kansas with his parents in 1869, where he continued to reside until attaining his majority when he left his home and became one of the first inhabitants of this city.

In June 5, 1877 he accepted the appointment of Assistant Marshal, and in the December, 1877, having displayed marked adaptability for the position, he was promoted to the Marshalship, in the discharge of the duties of which he continued until his unfortunate death.

Possessed of a geniality of temperament, a kindness of heart and a richness of personal bravery, he had many warm friends and admirers.

As an officer he followed the dictation of duty, striving at all times for its honest and complete discharge and gaming for himself the dignity and respect that of necessity followed from his determined intrepidity.

He died in the service he performed so well, and has added one other to the list of those who, living, were so many representatives, each of his day and generation, but who dead, belong to all time, and whose voices ring down the ages in solemn protest against the reign of violence and blood.