logo: Kansas Heritage Group

Ford County Historical Society
Dodge City, Kansas

[Photo: William B. Bat Masterson, Ford County
Sheriff and citizen. All rights reserved, FCHS.]

William B. 'Bat' Masterson, Ford County Sheriff and Dodge City citizen. All rights reserved, FCHS.

Benjamin Cardozo Meets
Gunslinger Bat Masterson

by William H. Manz

"A ... particularly incongruous meeting ... took place in a Manhattan courtroom in May 1913, involving future Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo and Bat Masterson, a legendary figure of the Old West; the case, Masterson v. Commercial Advertiser Association, a libel suit by Masterson against a New York City newspaper...

William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a former buffalo hunter, lawman, gunfighter, and gambler whose friends had included Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and a young rancher from New York named Theodore Roosevelt. In 1874, at age 20, Masterson had fought Indians at the Battle of Adobe Walls. ...scholarly Cardozo had a sheltered life as a youth, and went straight into law practice after attending college and law school at Columbia University."

(pdf file. Reprinted with permission from the New York State Bar Assoc. Journal, July/August 2004, Vol. 76, No. 6, N.Y. State Bar Assoc., Albany, NY)

Robert Wright, Dodge City founder, on Bat Masterson, in Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital (1913)

"A stranger, hunting Bat one day, said to some persons, standing on a street corner, "Can any of you tell me where I can find Bat Masterson? I never saw him, and would not know him if I met him." A lawyer spoke up, and said: "Look for one of the most perfectly made men you ever saw, as well as a well-dressed, good-looking fellow, and, when you see such a man, call him 'Bat' and you have hit the bull's eye."

Notwithstanding they have talked and published Bat as a robber and murderer and everything else that is vile, there was nothing of the kind in his make-up. On the contrary, Bat is a gentleman by instinct. He is a man of pleasant manners, good address, and mild disposition until aroused, and then, for God's sake, look out! He is a leader of men and a natural born general, always accomplishing whatever he undertook. This is the reason he was sought after by the "gang" and recognized as their general. He has much natural ability and good hard common sense, and, if he had got started right, Bat, today, would have been occupying a seat in the United States Senate, instead of being a reporter for a newspaper. There is nothing low down about him. He is high-toned and broad-minded, cool and brave."

Return to Dodge City History

Return to Ford County Historical Society Main Page
Updated: 15 July 2014