Bat Masterson Biography

Law Enforcement, Journalist (c. 1853–1921)
Bat Masterson was a prominent lawman, gambler, saloon keeper and sports writer of the American West. He was a good friend of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp.


Born in Canada on November 26, 1853, Bat Masterson began working as a buffalo hunter and army scout in 1873. Over the next decade, Masterson was a lawman, saloon keeper and gambler. During this time, he befriended legendary lawman Wyatt Earp in both Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona. Masterson spent his later years in New York City, working as a sports and features writer for various publications. He died in New York City on October 25, 1921.

Famed Lawman

Bat Masterson was born Bartholomew Masterson in Henryville, Quebec, Canada, on November 26, 1853 (some reports list his birth as November 24 or 26, and the year as either 1855 or 1856). Masterson later went by the name William Barclay Masterson, in addition to Bat. Though he was born in Canada, he grew up on a series of family farms in New York, Illinois and Kansas. In 1873, Masterson left home and began working as a buffalo hunter and Indian scout in Dodge City, Kansas. Over the next decade, he worked intermittently as the Ford County sheriff (1877-79) and a deputy U.S. marshal (1879), but largely made his living as a saloonkeeper and gambler.

Masterson was a good friend and associate of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, who served both Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona. His brothers, Ed and James Masterson, were also Dodge City lawmen.

Later Years

Masterson spent his later years in New York City. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him deputy U.S. marshal for the southern district of New York, a position that Masterson held until 1907. His enthusiasm for boxing and other sports led him to become a feature writer for Human Life Magazine, a sports writer, and eventually the sports editor of the New York Morning Telegraph

Masterson died of a heart attack on October 25, 1921, in New York City.

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