Often times the smaller the man, the harder the punch—this adage was true in the case of diminutive Luke Short, whose brief span of years played out in the Wild West. His adventures began as a teenage cowboy who followed the trail from Texas to the Kansas railheads. He then served as a scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian wars and, finally, he perfected his skills as a gambler in locations that included Leadville, Tombstone, Dodge City, and Fort Worth. In 1883, in what became known as the "Dodge City War," he banded together with Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and others to protect his ownership interests in the Long Branch Saloon—an event commemorated by the famous "Dodge City Peace Commission" photograph.
The irony is that Luke Short is best remembered for being the winning gunfighter in two of the most celebrated showdowns in Old West history: the shootout with Charlie Storms in Tombstone, Arizona, and the showdown against Jim Courtright in Fort Worth, Texas. He would have hated that. During his lifetime, Luke Short became one of the best known sporting men in the United States, and one of the wealthiest. He had been a partner in the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, as well as the White Elephant in Fort Worth. He became friends with other wealthy sporting men, such as William H. Harris, Jake Johnson, and Bat Masterson, who helped broaden his gaming interests to include thoroughbred horse racing and boxing.
Before he died he would become a familiar figure in Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, and Saratoga Springs, where he raced his string of horses. He traveled with other wealthy sporting men in private railroad cars to attend heavyweight championship fights. Luke Short was always a little man dealing in big games. He married the beautiful Hattie Buck, who could turns heads at all the top resorts they visited as man and wife.
Jack DeMattos and Chuck Parsons have researched deeply into all records to produce the first serious biography of Luke Short, revealing in full the epitome of a sporting man of the Wild West.
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Published by University of North Texas Press