Short was an American Old West gunfighter, cowboy, U. S. Army scout, dispatch rider, gambler, boxing promoter and saloon owner. He survived three gunfights, one against Charlie Storms in Tombstone, Arizona Territory and two in Fort Worth, Texas against Jim Courtright and Charles Wright. Short also had interests in three of the most well-known saloons in the Old West, the Oriental in Tombstone, the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City. Luke Short was born in Polk County, Arkansas on January 22,1854 and he was the fifth child of Josiah Washington Short and his wife Hetty Brumley. Martha Frances, John Pleasant, Josiah, Jr, young P. Mary Catherine and Henry Jenkins Short were all born in Polk County. The family soon moved to Montague County, Texas, where Josiah, in 1869, at age 15, Short started work as a cowboy, which he continued through 1875 and during which he made several trips to the Kansas railheads. In an interview later in his life, Short told researcher George H. Morrison that he moved to the Black Hills in 1876 and to Ogallala, there were also accounts written in Shorts later years which stated that he was once an outlaw during his time in Nebraska. Short was also reported, possibly beginning in a 1907 magazine article by Bat Masterson, later writers have relied on Mastersons story as truthful and added to it, but no documentation of these killings has been found. Nonetheless, Short did had his experiences fighting Indians while working for the government, from October 6 to 8,1878, Short worked as a dispatch courier from Ogallala for Major Thomas Tipton Thornburgh, Short earned $30. He then served as a scout for Thornburgh through October 20. He enlisted at Sidney, Nebraska to be paid $100 a month, however, he only served for 12 days and was paid a total of $40. The Fort Worth Daily Gazette later described him as “the bravest scout in the government employ. ”Short moved to Leadville, Bat Masterson later wrote that Short seriously wounded a man during a gambling dispute in Leadville. He remained in Colorado and was in Buena Vista, about 30 miles from Leadville, until June 1880, when he moved to Kansas City. Short remained in Kansas City only until late November, but was accused of swindling Texan John Jones out of $280 on Three Card Monte, in late November 1880, Short moved to Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. Short first met Wyatt Earp, William H. Harris and Bat Masterson in Tombstone, Earp had lived in Tombstone for nearly a year when Short arrived in November 1880. William H. Harris arrived in Tombstone about a month after Short, Bat Masterson left Dodge City for Tombstone on February 8,1881. On February 24, the Dodge City Times noted that C. M, Beeson received a letter from W. H. Harris, which states that W. B. Masterson arrived in Tombstone, Arizona. William H. Harris was well-acquainted with Wyatt Earp from Earps time in Dodge City, based on their previous friendship, Harris had no problem convincing his partners to engage Earp as a faro dealer at their Oriental Saloon in Tombstone
Image: Luke Short
Chalk Beeson, co-owner with William Harris of the Long Branch Saloon
Timothy Isaiah "Jim" Courtright. Photograph taken between April 6, 1876 and April 6, 1879, when Courtright was Town Marshal of Fort Worth, Texas.