James Masterson (lawman)

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James Masterson

Also Known As: ""Jim""
Birthdate: (39)
Birthplace: Henryville, Le Haut-Richelieu, Québec, Canada
Death: March 31, 1895 (39)
Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma, United States (TB)
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas M Masterson and Katherine McGurk Masterson
Brother of Ed Masterson (lawman); George Emery Masterson; Bat Masterson, US. Marshal; Nellie Masterson and Emma Masterson

Managed by: Private User
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About James Masterson (lawman)


James Masterson, also known as Jim Masterson, (September 18, 1855 – March 31, 1895) was a lawman of the American West and the brother of gunfighters and lawmen Bat Masterson and Ed Masterson.

Lawman career

James Masterson, regardless of not achieving the fame that his brother Bat achieved, was probably involved in more shootouts than his brother ever was. Bat Masterson's fame, mostly attributed to his association with Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, and others, was built on his being a gunfighter. Although historically he receives little notoriety, James Masterson was well known in the Kansas and Oklahoma areas as a formidable gunman, and an extremely capable lawman.

After working on the western frontier as a buffalo hunter with his brothers, he returned to Kansas. He became Assistant Marshal in Dodge City, Kansas in June 1878. At that time Charlie Bassett was the Marshal, having replaced Jim's brother Ed Masterson, Ed having been killed that past April. Wyatt Earp was a Deputy Marshal under Bassett at that same time, along with Earp's brother James. In the summer of 1878, a cowboy named George Hoy opened fire on the Comique Variety Hall, outside of which stood Masterson and Wyatt Earp. Earp had been involved in an altercation with Hoy previously. Both Earp and Masterson returned fire, and Hoy was shot from his horse by one bullet that severely injured his arm. Hoy died a month later, and Earp always claimed to have fired the shot that ultimately killed Hoy. However, that was never confirmed, and it is entirely possible that the shot was actually fired by Jim Masterson. Masterson, however, never disputed Earps claim, and simply didn't comment.

He made several hundred arrests during the next two year time span, mostly of drunken cowboys that came through Dodge City on cattle drives. In November, 1879, he was promoted to Marshal after the resignation of Bassett. He shot at least one man during his service with the Dodge City Marshal's Office, aside from the Hoy shooting. On April 6, 1881, he lost his job after a change in city government, and the belief that the long standing hard-lined stance of the Marshal's Office was past its prime and no longer useful. He fell out with his business partner, A.J. Peacock, over the hiring of the latter's brother-in-law, Al Updegraph, as bartender, and someone wired Bat Masterson in Tombstone that his brother's life was in danger. Bat arrived in Dodge on 16 April and saw Peacock and Updegraph near the station. Firing broke out, with Jim and others also taking part. Updegraph was the only casualty, taking a bullet through the lungs. Bat was fined for discharging a gun within the city limits and the brothers left Dodge.

Masterson moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where he joined the police force. While in Trinidad, Masterson arrested John Allen for the shooting death of Frank Loving, in what became known as the Trinidad Gunfight. In 1885 he became an under sheriff in Colfax County, New Mexico, and in 1889 he took an active part in the Gray County (Kansas) County Seat War. He was one of a group who made a raid on the courthouse at Cimarron which resulted in a gunfight in which a man was killed and several were wounded.

He later moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma, and then later became a Deputy Sheriff of Logan County, Oklahoma. On September 1, 1893, he was involved in the Battle of Ingalls as a Special Deputy US Marshal, a gunfight in Ingalls, Oklahoma against the Doolin-Dalton gang, and was responsible for the capture of gang member "Arkansas Tom" Jones. He died of tuberculosis on March 31, 1895.


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James Masterson (lawman)'s Timeline

September 18, 1855
Henryville, Le Haut-Richelieu, Québec, Canada
March 31, 1895
Age 39
Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma, United States