Thursday, August 12, 2010



'Bat Masterson'

Gary Vinson

From Wikipedia:
Billy Thompson, sometimes known as Texas Billy Thompson (1845 - September 6, 1897) was an Old West gunman and gambler, and the younger brother of the famous gunman and lawman Ben Thompson. The younger Thompson brother never achieved the fame that his brother achieved, and in his own lifetime was mainly referred to as the unpredictable and troubled younger brother of Ben Thompson. Factually, however, while a dangerous man, he also was a formidable opponent in a gunfight.

Born William Thompson in Knottingley, Yorkshire, England, immigrating with his family and older brother to the United States as a child. His family settled in Texas, and during the American Civil War both he and his brother volunteered for the Confederate Army. His older brother would go on to fame as a gunman and later as a lawmen and Chief of Police for Austin, Texas.

On June 21, 1880, Billy Thompson was in Ogallala, Nebraska. He and a saloon owner named Bill Tucker had developed strong resentment for one another, supposedly over the affections of a prostitute named "Big Alice". Billy Thompson, drunk, stood in front of the saloon and fired two shots inside. The second of the shots hit Tucker in the hand, taking off one finger and mutilating others. Enraged, Tucker grabbed a shotgun and ran after the now fleeing Billy. Tucker fired two shots, missing, reloaded and fired two more, this time riddling Billy Thompson in the back, from his heels to his neck. Billy Thompson was arrested, but allowed to remain under guard at the Ogallala House Hotel to heal. Knowing his brother Ben's reputation, the local sheriff ordered a heavy guard. Ben Thompson, hearing of his brothers arrest, felt his intervening would result in bloodshed. Instead, he asked his friend Bat Masterson to travel to Ogllala and see if he could assist. Masterson did so, first meeting with Billy, then meeting with the ailing Tucker, who was bitter but willing to drop charges, for a price. Unfortunately, Ben Thompson did not have access to the amount Tucker wanted, therefore Bat Masterson eluded the guards and helped Billy escape, with them taking a train south. After the escape, a Keith County, Nebraska grand jury indicted Billy for assault with intent to kill. Those charges were eventually dropped, and the matter forgotten.

He died of a stomach ailment in Houston, on September 6th, 1897. At the time of his death, Billy Thompson had killed four men, and wounded a fifth, with one killing being the shooting of the unarmed Remus Smith, another the accidental shooting of Sheriff Chauncey Whitney, and the other two killings and one wounding being during gunfights.

The story of Billy Thompson was highly fictionalized in an episode of 'Bat Masterson'


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