February 2019

History Lessons

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

See also: At the Museum

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns



Harvey Girls of El Paso — The Harvey Girls of El Paso Texas meet at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at Union Depot Passenger Station, 700 San Francisco. Program is “History of Railroad Police Protecting Passengers and Freight” presented by Woody Bare. Visitors welcome. Admission is free. Information: 591-2326.

Southwest Chapter of Railway & Locomotive Historical Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at El Sarape Restaurant, 5103 Montana. Program is “History of Relocated 1880s Express Car.” Visitors welcome. Information: 591-2326.

El Paso Corral of the Westerners — The monthly dinner program is 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Holiday Inn El Paso-West 900 Sunland Park Drive at I-10. Program is “Smeltertown Archaeology and History” by Mark Howe. Cost: $20. Visitors welcome, but RSVP needed by Feb. 11: 759-9538.

Lost El Paso Paranormal Tours — The group specializes in original historical El Paso ghost tours. Tours listed are hosted by “Weird Texas” author Heather Shade or other costumed guides. Space is limited for many events. Information: 503-8960, lostelpasoparanormal@gmail.com, lostelpaso.com or on Facebook. Tickets at squareup.com.
  A Haunted Hearts Downtown Ghost Walk is Saturday, Feb. 16, starting at 311 E. Franklin.

Fort Bayard Tours — Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society host walking tours of the historic fort beginning at each Saturday at Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark, six miles east of Silver City, N.M. off U.S. 180. Tour begins at Commanding Officer’s Quarter and museum (House 26). Museum hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday. Tour takes about 90 minutes; call for time. Admission is free, but donations appreciated. Information, group tours: (575) 956-3294 or (575) 574-8779, (970) 222-2433, or (575) 574-2573.
  Fort Bayard served as an army post from 1866 to 1899 and army tuberculosis hospital from 1899 to 1920.

Old Fort Bliss — Building 5054, corner of Pershing and Pleasanton Roads, Fort Bliss. The Old West days of the “Soldiers of the Pass” are relived through replicas of the original adobe fort buildings and military artifacts of the Magoffinsville Post, 1854 to 1868. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; by appointment only Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 568-4518 or 588-8482 or on Facebook at Old Fort Bliss.

Chamizal National Memorial — 800 S. San Marcial. The National Park Service operates the memorial on land once claimed by Mexico as part of a decades-long dispute over the international boundary. The visitor center has an exhibit on the history of the Chamizal dispute, including a video presentation. Park grounds and picnic area open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for both foot traffic and vehicles; visitor’s center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 532-7273 or on Facebook at ChamizalNationalMemorial.
  “Tales, Tails and Tots” stories and visits with park mascot Chami are 11 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 3-6 the fourth Saturday of each month.

El Paso History Radio Show — The show runs 10:05 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KTSM AM 690 (and streamed at KTSMRadio.com). Documentary filmmaker Jackson Polk hosts the show with reenactor and historian Melissa Sargent. Details of each upcoming show, plus podcasts of previous programs, are at EPHistory.com. Information: 833-8700.

El Paso Mission Trail Visitor Center — El Paso Mission Trail Association’s center supporting the three historic churches in the Mission Valley — Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission and San Elizario Chapel — is at 6095 Alameda (at Zaragoza). Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Information 790-0661, 851-9997 or visitelpasomissiontrail.com.

EPCC Archive Collection donations — El Paso Community College will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2019, and is documenting the history of the college by establishing the EPCC Archive Collection. Anyone with memorabilia to donate to the collection such as posters, awards, photographs, brochures, programs, college publications, architectural records, documents on the beginning of the college or more are invited to share. Information: Antonio Rodarte at 831-4052 arodar37@epcc.edu; or Gale Sanchez at 831-4458, gsanc127@epcc.edu.
  The community is also invited to share their favorite experiences, funny stories, memories of campuses and colleagues. Information: epcc.edu/contact/Pages/ShareYourEPCCStory.aspx.

Fort Bliss Historical Association — The group meets at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Fort Bliss museum complex, 1735 Marshall. Information: 269-4831. Dues are $25 a year ($10 students and junior enlisted soldiers).

Los Portales Museum and Visitor Center — 1521 San Elizario Road. The museum is operated by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, and is housed in an 1850s Territorial-style building across from the San Elizario church. It offers gifts, family trees, historical artifacts as well as information on the “First Thanksgiving” and the Salt War of 1877. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: 851-1682.

Mission Trail — Three historic churches lie within eight miles of each other in El Paso County’s Mission Valley.
• Mission Ysleta — Spanish and Tigua Indian refugees from northern New Mexico founded the community in the 1680s. The first mission was built in 1692 and rebuilt completely in both the 18th and 19th centuries. The current structure was built in 1851. It’s near Zaragoza and Alameda on the Tigua Reservation. Information: 851-9997 (El Paso Mission Trail Association).
• Mission Socorro — The first adobe structure in Socorro was built in 1692, and like nearby Mission Ysleta, was destroyed by floods in later centuries. The current structure dates back to 1843, with additions completed in 1873. It’s off Socorro Road two miles southeast of Ysleta.
• San Elizario Chapel — Established in 1789 as a Spanish presidio, or fort, to protect the Camino Real, San Elizario was the first county seat of El Paso. The church was built in 1877, replacing a church built about 25 years earlier. Technically, San Elizario Chapel is a presidio church, not a mission. It’s on the San Elizario plaza, off Socorro Road, 5.5 miles southeast of Socorro Mission. Nearby is the famous jail that Billy the Kid reportedly broke into to rescue a friend. Group tours are available. For San Elizario tour information, call 851-1682.

San Elizario Veterans Museum and Memorial Walk — The museum, operated and managed by the non-profit San Elizario Veterans Committee of the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, is at 1501-B Main Street in San Elizario. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: Ann Lara, 345-3741 or Ray Borrego, 383-8529.

San Elizario walking tours — The San Elizario Historic District hosts free, guided walking tours of its nationally recognized historic district at noon and 3 p.m. the fourth Sunday of the month starting at Main Street Mercantile, 1501 Main Street. Learn about the 17 historic sites of San Elizario, about the arrival of Don Juan de Onate to the area in 1598 and the First Thanksgiving Celebration, the Presidio de San Elizario and the San Elcear Chapel on the Mission Trail. Information: 851-0093 or SanElizarioHistoricDistrict.org.
  To get there: Take Loop 375 to Socorro Road then go east seven miles to San Elizario. District is on the right. Look for the brown signs.

Scottish Rite Temple tour — The Downtown El Paso historic landmark, 301 W. Missouri, is open to the public for a free walking tour at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn about El Paso’s Masonic history, the design and architecture of the theater. Information: 533-4409.

Fort Stanton — The fort was established and built in 1855 by troopers of the 1st Dragoon Regiment to serve as a base of operations against the Mescalero Apache Indians. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (Hours may be shorter in winter — call for schedule). Admission is free. Information: (575) 354-0341, fortstanton.org.

Shakespeare Ghost Town — The small pioneer settlement and mining town on the trail to California is just south of Lordsburg, N.M. A 1½-hour tour at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on the second weekend of the month; call to confirm. Cost is $4 ($3 ages 6-12). Information: (575) 542-9034 or shakespeareghostown.com.
  To get there: From Lordsburg, take the Main Street exit (Exit 22) from Interstate 10 and turn south. Follow signs to Shakespeare.

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

Bat’s brother Ed died in gun battle


For nearly a century and a half, we have heard quite a bit about Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson. Yet not so much about his brothers Ed and Jim, who were also well-known lawmen in Dodge City, Kansas. Ed wasn’t quite as good with a gun as his brother Bat, a fact that led to his early death.
Bat actually had four brothers and two sisters, raised by Irish parents who moved the family from their original farm in Quebec to various part of the United States, ending up in Wichita, Kansas. Edward was born in 1852, and Bartholomew was born a year later, and James two years after that. The youngest two brothers, George and Tom, never did much to gather any claim to fame, staying on the family farm in Wichita.
In 1872 Bat convinced older brother Ed to leave the boring life of the farm, trying their hand at buffalo hunting. They followed the great herds from Kansas down to the panhandle of Texas, finding adventure enough. Too much adventure for Ed, who returned to the farm for a while. Ed not only later rejoined Bat in Dodge City, but also talked younger brother Jim into accompanying him.
It didn’t take long for the brothers to become prominent citizens. Jim became part owner of a saloon/dance hall that became a popular stopping place. Ed, the soft spoken, steadier one of the brothers was appointed assistant marshal of Dodge. Not long after being deputized, Ed got his first action by arresting the town deadbeat, Bobby Gill, for disturbing the peace, probably due to his overindulging in bad whiskey.
Dodge City’s mayor, James “Dog” Kelly, (the nickname came from some greyhounds of his that once belonged to George Custer) requested that Ed Masterson be made city marshal. Six months earlier Ed had been an inexperienced deputy. Now by luck and good politicking he was marshal of Dodge City.
The marshal’s services were not in much demand until the Texas cowboys finished their cattle drives. At that time of the year his workload increased dramatically. The visiting cowboys, con men, restless soldiers from Fort Dodge and numerous robberies on the streets all made his job very hectic. His brother Bat, who was sheriff of surrounding Ford County, had warned Ed that his easy-going manner and his gentleness would never inspire fear among the swelling population of bad characters in town.
Ed never showed off with his pistol, never feeling the need to. His way was to try to talk any troublemaker into submission. Then on April 9, 1878, about 10:30 p.m., he tried to disarm two drunk cowboys, Jack Wagner and his boss Alf Walker. Never drawing his gun, Ed pushed both cowboys against the wall. Bat had started running across the street to help but his action provided the chance the cowboys needed. Ed was then distracted, turning long enough to give the cowboys time to draw their guns. Wagner fired point-blank into the side of Ed, who stumbled off mortally wounded, dying about an hour later. Bat shot Jack Wagner, who died the next day. Bat shot again, wounding Walker, who was taken back to Texas where he recovered to make another cattle drive to Kansas.
After Ed’s death, Mayor Kelly named Charlie Bassett as marshal, making Wyatt Earp, James Earp and Jim Masterson his deputies. Jim Masterson would later become city marshal. Wyatt Earp always served as a deputy while in Dodge.
Ed Masterson may not have been the gunfighter his brother Bat was, and that may had been why the City of Dodge liked him so much. The day after his death all the businesses in town closed and most doors were draped with black cloth. His body laid in state with the Dodge City Fire Company. Many wagons and buggies joined the procession to the “Boot Hill” cemetery, where a choir stood next to his coffin singing, “Lay him low in the clover or the snow; what cares he, for he cannot know.” Brother Bat rode alone behind the casket and 60 volunteer firemen in full uniform followed behind him.
Ed was first buried at the well-known “Boot Hill” before being moved to Fort Dodge. Years later all but military personnel were moved to a new city cemetery. Whether Ed’s grave was moved is unknown and his gravesite remains unknown.
Jim Masterson remained a lawman the rest of his life, and died at age 39 in Guthrie, Okla. Bat Masterson later achieved fame as a journalist and prizefighting fan, as well as a participant in some nefarious business ventures, dying in New York City in 1921.

John McVey Middagh is a former
saddle shop owner. You can reach
him at jmiddagh@yahoo.com

El Paso Scene MONTHLY
This month's listings, stories and columns

Feature story
Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk


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