CAPTURING PROTECTORS OF PEACE
True West|December 2020
Rare shots of Old West lawmen with firearms—and without.
ROBERT G. MCCUBBIN
Many deserving Old West lawmen have not received their due in history.

We all know the ones who have questionable aspects to their careers and were no more than “part time” lawmen—Wild Bill Hickok, Dallas Stoudenmire, Ben Thompson and Elfego Baca. They were more gunfighters than professional lawmen. The fame of others, like Bat Masterson, eclipses what they actually accomplished as peace officers. Although controversial, the Earps and Frank Canton wore badges for many years and were mostly on the side of the law. And some are remembered only for the way they died—such as Chauncey Whitney (murdered by Billy Thompson in Ellsworth, Kansas) and Fred White (killed in the streets of Tombstone, Arizona, by Curly Bill Brocius).

Those that I consider most deserving for what they did as lawmen are Heck Thomas, Bill Tilghman and Bud Ledbetter of Oklahoma; John Slaughter of Arizona; Pat Garrett of New Mexico; Harry Morse of California; John X. Beidler of Montana; and Bear River Tom Smith of Kansas. Their accomplishments outweigh any negatives in their lives.

FRANK CANTON

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