Lot 463

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Description:

Bat Masterson ADS as 25-Year-Old Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas on the Eve of the Royal Gorge RR War, PSA/DNA Slabbed & Graded Mint 9!

A paper fragment signed by Wild West legend Bartholomew "Bat" Masterson (1853-1921), as "W. B. Masterson / Sherif [sic]" and additionally inscribed in his hand with over 30 words, numbers, and figures. Encapsulated and PSA/DNA graded Mint 9. Masterson has inscribed the front of the blue-ruled paper fragment as: "Fees / S + R -- 50 / 14 miles 140 / $1.90 / Recd. this writ / Apl. 14th 1879 / Executed the / same by reading / to the within marked / witnesses on this / 14th day of Apl / A.D. 1879 / W.B. Masterson / Sherif [sic]." The reverse of the document is inscribed in another hand and pertains to unknown legal matters involving one Joseph Briggs of Kansas. Expected wear including light toning and edge darkening, else near fine. The paper fragment measures 6.375" x 4.5." The slab measures 10" x 6.5."

Bat Masterson was only 25 years old when he signed this document, but he was by no means inexperienced in law enforcement. He had served as the undersheriff or deputy of Charlie Bassett, the City Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas, in the summer of 1877. Masterson was elected as the sheriff of Ford County, in southwestern Kansas, on November 6, 1877, and would remain in this role until November 1879, when he lost reelection following the Royal Gorge Railroad War.

In April 1879, then, Masterson was drawing towards the end of his 2-year term as sheriff, and was also on the cusp of a very interesting period in his career. During the so-called Royal Gorge Railroad War, Masterson moonlighted as the commander of a posse of seasoned gunfighters recruited to defend the interests of the Santa Fe Railroad in a territorial dispute with the rival Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad at Royal Gorge, a canyon of the Arkansas River near Pueblo, Colorado. By some accounts, Masterson's freelance vigilantes even included Doc Holliday. The conflict between the two railroad companies escalated to a shoot-out between forces in June 1879, when Masterson and his posse surrendered outside of the Santa Fe roundhouse in Pueblo. Historians have posited that one of the reasons Masterson lost reelection as sheriff was because of his absenteeism during the previous summer. Pueblo was over 290 miles away from Ford County, in central Colorado!

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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