Old West Myth & Fact Archives

Dodge City’s Most Famous Gunfight

Levi Richardson was a buffalo hunter who, because of the lack of buffalo, had become a freighter. He was a well-liked, hard working individual who was known for his proficiency with a pistol and rifle… As well as a quick temper.

 
Frank Loving, also known as “Cock-eyed” Frank because his eyes tended to look toward each other, was an ex-cowboy turned gambler. Loving, unlike Richardson, was known to be cool, with a steady nerve. Both men were spending some time in Dodge City, Kansas.
 
Now comes the catalyst… a woman. It seems that Levi Richardson fell in love with a young woman. Unfortunately, for him, she loved another. And, that person was none other than Cock-eyed Frank Loving.
 
It was about 8:00 Saturday evening, April 5, 1879. Richardson was warming himself at the potbelly stove in the Long Branch Saloon, when Loving came in and took a seat at one of the gambling tables. Richardson followed him to the table. A few, less than genteel, words were exchanged. With both men standing face to face, Richardson went for his gun. He pulled off a shot as Loving was drawing his pistol. Loving’s first shot misfired. Seeking cover, Loving ran behind the potbelly stove. But Richardson was right behind him taking two more shots.
 
Fortunately, for Loving, after that first misfire, his gun performed flawlessly. Using cool deliberation, Loving shot Richardson in the chest, side and arm. He died on the spot. Loving, on the other hand, suffered only a scratch on the hand. After the smoke settled, both guns were checked. In the fracas, both men had emptied them. The amazing thing about the gunfight was that with lead flying everywhere in a crowded room, no bystander was hit.

Poker Alice

Born in England, Alice Ivers was educated in a female seminary. She came to the United States and eventually settled down in Colorado where she married Frank Duffield, a mining engineer.
Frank enjoyed playing poker, and Alice went with him and watched. Sometimes, when Frank was at work, Alice would sit in on games. When her husband was killed in a mine explosion Alice turned to cards full time. She did so well that soon the miners were calling her “Poker Alice.”
 
In Silver City, New Mexico she “broke the bank.” Feeling flush, she headed to New York and proceeded to spend it all.

She returned to Colorado and worked for Bob Ford, the person who shot Jessie James… That is, until Ed Kelly killed him.

Poker Alice always dressed like a lady; even though she was constantly puffing on a cigar. Like most gamblers, Alice carried a pistol, and she wasn’t afraid to use it either. One night a drunken miner pulled a knife on the dealer at the next table. Alice shot the miner. Poker Alice ended up marrying the man whose life she saved. Later, when she owned her own establishment, she shot and killed a trouble-making customer.
 
 At one point she owned a sheep ranch. Busy gambling, she hired George Huckert to tend the sheep. When George’s unpaid wages got to be over a thousand dollars, Poker Alice married him, because “It would be cheaper to marry him than pay him off.”
 
At the age of 79 on February 27, 1930, Poker Alice died. Even though she gambled all her adult life; married three times; killed a man; smoked cigars constantly; and ran a combination gambling and whorehouse, Poker Alice’s early religious upbringing stayed with her, because she never gambled on Sunday, and when she owned establishments of her own, they were closed on Sunday.

GAMBLERS

GamblersMen who came out west gambled everything on the hopes of becoming prosperous and having a good life. That same spirit led them into gambling halls, and games of chance. One such game started on June 15, 1853 and ended 24 years later.

For people of the Old West gambling was a way of life. They risked their life by going into Indian Territory for furs, precious metal or land. They staked everything they owned on a herd of cattle being driven north. And for sure they enjoyed a game of chance.

There was faro, euchre, monte, casino, and, of course, poker…which, incidentally, was always dealt to the left of the player to make it easier to pull a gun with the right hand in case of irregularities. The origin of most games of chance came from Europe, with the exception of the old three walnuts and a pea, which started in America, probably on the streets of New York, where it still prospers.

Not only did cowboys loose their wages, but whole herds of cattle, and a cattleman’s entire wealth would change hands over night. A few wives were even offered to “match the pot.”

On June 15, 1853, in Austin, Texas Major Danelson and Mr. Morgan sat down to play poker, and evidentially with little to go home to, forgot to quit. The game went on for a week… then a month… a year became years. The Civil War broke out, was fought and lost, but these two Texas gentlemen still dealt the cards. Finally in 1872, 19 years after it started, both men died on the same day…but the game continued. Their two sons took over, and played for 5 more years.

Finally the game ended in 1877 when a railroad train killed one of the sons, and the other went crazy. Not that all of them weren’t crazy in the first place.

FIRST DAYLIGHT BANK ROBBERY

No one noticed a group of men who rode into Liberty, Missouri on February 13, 1866. But, a short while later, when they rode out, everyone noticed them, because they had just done what no one had ever done before.

It was FebrJesse & Frank Jamesuary of 1866.  The Civil War was over.  Supposedly, Jessie James was at his mother’s home in Kearney, Missouri recovering from a war wound, and his brother Frank was spending his time with Jessie reading books.

About ten miles away, on February 13, Valentine’s Day, a dozen men rode into Liberty, Missouri.  They wore long military coats.  It was a cold day, and the streets were deserted.  Three men dismounted and took casual positions on the street.  The others rode up to the Clay County Savings Association. Two went inside.

A clerk and cashier were inside.  One of the men in long coats walked up to the clerk and asked him to change a ten dollar bill.  The long coated man then pulled his pistol, and casually asked for all the money in the bank.

These men were doing something that had never been done before…holding up a bank during operating hours.  A gain sack was filled with gold and silver coins, paper money and securities totaling $60,000.

After the robbery, the men mounted their horses, and riding at full gallop, whooped, and shot their way out of town.  Unfortunately, a 19-year-old college student, George Wymore, was walking down the street.  One rider fired at him four times, and Wymore fell dead.  A later examination of Wymore discovered that any one of the four shots would have killed him.

In spite of their alibis, this first bank robbery was led by the two James boys from nearby Kearney.  Over the next few years they robbed at least twelve other banks, more than a handful of trains, almost a handful of stagecoaches, and even a county fair.

DOC HOLLIDAY – MYTH & FACT

We all think of Doc Holliday as a deadly shootist, killing scores of men. But, in this case our thinking is wrong. In reality, it can only be verified that Doc killed two men…One of them on this date back in 1879.DOC HOLLIDAY

Doc Holliday was a partner in a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico. A former army scout named Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of Holliday’s saloon girls to quit her job and run away with him. When she refused, Gordon became upset, and he went out to the street and began to fire bullets into the saloon. After the second shot, Holliday calmly stepped out of the saloon and dropped Gordon with a single shot. Gordon died the next day.

Incidentally, the second killing took place the following year. You may have heard about it. It’s was during the OK Corral Shootout.

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