Famous Lawmen in Colorado

W.B. “Bat” Masterson: Denver Sheriff from Ford Co Kansas (Dodge City)
J.H “Doc” Holliday, D.D.S.: Dentist and part time frontier lawman
Pat Desmond: Marshall of Pueblo 1877
Henry Ellis: Sheriff of Georgetown 1876
Henly Price: first Sheriff of Pueblo county 1875

The Georgetown Lynching

On October 13, 1877, Henry Thedie, a respected local butcher and father of three small children, was brutally murdered near Georgetown and robbed of eighty dollars. A man named Robert Schamle was accused of being the murderer, when he left the area on the run, he was pursued by the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, operated by General David J. Cook of Denver.

Schamle was spotted on an eastbound freight train out of Pueblo, and Sheriff Ellis – a member of General Cook’s Rocky Mountain Detective Association – sent his deputy Pat Desmond in pursuit. Sheriff’s Deputy Desmond caught up with the fugitive of West Las Animas in Bent County and returned him to Pueblo. Schamle was taken back to Georgetown where, on the early morning of December 15, 1877 he was taken from jail by an enraged mob and hanged in a nearby pigpen.

The Royal Gorge War

Deputy sheriff, Desmond assisted Sheriff Henly R. Price that same spring in the hanging of Victor Nuneza convicted murderer, the first legal execution in the county. Running for office in the municipal elections that April, he defeated his opponent in election as city marshal by a margin of three-to-one. That same year, in February, Desmond had assisted Sheriff W.B.”Bat” Masterson of Ford County, Kansas, by capturing George Holcomb, a notorious cattle rustler and escapee from the Dodge City jail. In June of that same year, these two legendary western lawmen found themselves looking at each other over the sights of their guns, on opposite sides in the little known Royal Gorge War.

The Royal Gorge War was a battle waged between the Denver & Rio Grande Rail Road and the Sante Fe railroad for the right-of-way to the bustling silver camps at Leadville. Lawyers for both railroads argued their cases in Colorado courts, while armed gunmen hired by the Sante Fe Rail Road, took control of Rio Grande stations from Denver to Cannon City. Bat Masterson was in command of a group of about 150 men who held the key position at the roundhouse at Pueblo.

On June 11, 1879, R.F. Weitbrec, treasurer of the Rio Grande, met with Chief Engineer J.A. McMurtrie, Sheriff Henly R Price and his deputy, Pat Desmond, to discuss a means to drive Masterson and his men from the roundhouse in Pueblo. Desmond suggested that they steal a cannon from the state armory, but it was discovered that Masterson had already appropriated it, and had it in the roundhouse, trained on the line of attackers.

McMurtrie, himself an Irishman, and Deputy Sheriff Pat Desmond assembled some fifty Rio Grande men in front of the Victoria Hotel at three o’clock that afternoon and issued them ammunition and rifles equipped with bayonets. Then they made an assault on the telegraph office on the station platform, forced the doors, and drove the defenders out through the rear windows the roundhouse in force, Then they moved on the roundhouse in force.

Weitbrec conferred with Bat Masterson, after which Bat ordered his men to surrender the roundhouse, and the confrontation was over, Bat’s battalion had suffered one casualty. Henry Jenkins, reported in an “unbiased” story in the DODGE CITY TIMES. “was shot in the back by a drunken guard of the Rio Grande force. The unfortunate man was climbing out of the depot window.” Josh Webb, another of Bat’s men, lost a front tooth in close fighting, and a handsome gold one was inserted at gratis by J.H “Doc” Holliday, D.D.S. According to Bat Masterson’s biographer, Alfred Henry Lewis, Bat “smote a Pueblo railway policeman so grievously upon his skull with a six-shooter, that the latter officer, who had wrongfully assailed Mr. Masterson with a bludgeon, must be furloughed to the hospital for a month.

For more information go to http://www.coloradovacation.com


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