|Wyatt Earp (Columbus Journal, January 27, 1897)|
An El Paso (Tex.) correspondent says: When Luke Short, a bad man with a record, shot Jim Courtwright, another bad man with a record, at Fort Worth recently, he reduced the professional killers of the west to a quartet. The list stands at present, in order of precedence, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Luke Short, and Wyatt Earp. There used to be more, but the same wise Providence that disintegrated the Jesse James gang and distributed it among the cemeteries, penitentiaries, and dime museums of the land, has elected that bad men eventually kill each other. Thus the supply has been kept ahead of the demand. The interest that attaches to those men is purely transitory; a dead killer is as quickly forgotten as a knocked-out pugilist, but the qualities of nerve and desperation that brought them to the surface in a country where everybody carries a "gun" and people go to glory every day without a benediction or a bootjack stamps them as rather extraordinary characters. Bat Masterson first became a border celebrity through this paper, in which a correspondent rehearsed his pedigree some years ago. Since that time more has been written about him than all the other three put together. He is the Maud S. of man killers. Nobody has ever lowered his record, but he claims that the twenty-six or twenty-seven inmates of his private graveyard were all sent thither in pursuit of his duty as an officer.
All his life has been spent on the frontier. He was first a cowboy, then a scout in the United States employ, and afterward marshal in several western towns, notably Dodge City, Kansas, and Trinidad, Colorado. Personally, Masterson is the best extant specimen of the gentleman desperado, copyrighted by Bret Harte. He has trained the voice that erstwhile yelled for cows down to a low, gentle baritone; he always dresses in black, wears no jewelry save a slender gold thread of a watch chain; a white cambtic handkerchief peeps from the breast pocket of his four-button cutaway, and he is careful about his boots and ties. A friend who invaded his room when he was here recently found two six-shooters and a manicure set on his bureau. He never blusters. When he gets mad his mustache creeps up under his nose in a peculiar smile that has no merriment in it, and he reaches for his revolver, which he carries thrust in the waistband of his "pants," directly under the lower buttons of his vest. It looks like the irony of fate that such a man should gravitate into a theatrical husband. Such, however, was the destiny of Masterson. Not long since he married Nellie McMahon, a western soubrette; and now he carries the pug and wears fur on his overcoat collar. Mrs. 'Masterson (nee McMahon) is not troubled with mashers.