By Dakota Livesay
This week in the old west
Being a famous gun fighter and gambler wasn’t a lifestyle that was conducive to marriage. However there was one such gun fighter and gambler and his wife who made it work.
It seems that in the Old West gun fighting and gambling went hand-in-hand. Although a gunfight could take place at any time, gambling usually took place at night. So, sporting men would sleep during the day and they were out on the town from sunset till morning…the whole time drinking more than their share of whiskey.
This lifestyle, in addition to their tendency to be always on the move, didn’t lend itself to a married life. Gamblers did have women, but they seldom married them.
One such gambler-gunfighter was William Barclay Masterson, better known as Bat Masterson. In 1890 Bat Masterson was in Denver, Colorado. At the time he had the enviable job of managing the burlesque troop in Ed Chase’s Palace Theater. The Palace Theater was known for having some of the most gorgeous women in the west. One of them was a blond 34-year-old veteran named Emma Walters. At the time Bat was 37. Within a short time they were an item. And on November 21, 1891 Bat and Emma got married.
Emma was content to stay in the background. She stopped working in the Palace Theater, and a few months later Bat gave up his job, along with drinking. For a while he managed a saloon and gambling house in Creede, Colorado. Although Bat fell off the wagon a time of two, the influence of Emma drew him closer and closer to a respectable life.
After a short stint as a prizefight promoter, they headed to New York where President Theodore Roosevelt gave Bat a job as a United States Marshal. From there he became the sports editor for the Morning Telegraph.
In 1921 Bat died. It was just two months short of his 30th wedding anniversary.