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Luke Short - Jim Courtright Shootout Reenactment
at the White Elephant Saloon - February 8, 1887

Join us for the anniversary of this legendary gunfight.
See the re-enactment of this famous shootout 
Yearly February 8, at 7 p.m. 

in front of The White Elephant Saloon at
106 East Exchange Ave. - Fort Worth, Texas 76106.

Click here to watch a slide show of the 2008 event
created by Jon Holiday of Image One Media!

Fort Worth Historical Reinactment

Fort Worth is a city blessed with a rich heritage. Sure other cities boast of a western heritage, but what happened right here 125 years ago rivals any other western legend. The two men involved, in what has become this city's most famous gunfight, each had well deserved reputations as expert gunmen who were not to be trifled with. One man was a famous gambler who had worked dealing cards with the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. The other was a former Fort Worth lawman who walked on both sides of the law. Each man had come to Fort Worth for different reasons. They knew one another well. They were for a time, friends.

On a cold February 8th night, in 1887, Jim Courtright called Luke Short out of the White Elephant Saloon. Courtright reportedly had been drinking, some words were passed, and the two men walked down the street about one block. There, facing one another, Courtright said something in reference to Short's gun. Short stated he was not armed, although he was. Short then indicated that Courtright could check for himself, and he opened his vest. When he did so, Courtright said loudly "Don't you pull a gun on me," and quickly drew his pistol. (source: Wikipedia)

However, Courtright's pistol hung on his watch-chain for a brief second, at which time Short pulled his pistol and fired one shot. The bullet tore off Courtright's right thumb, rendering him incapable of firing his single-action revolver. As he tried to switch the pistol to his left hand, Short fired at least four more times, killing him. (source: Wikipedia)

The next day one of the largest funeral processions ever held in Fort Worth took Jim Courtright to his final resting place. People in Fort Worth raised money to help his wife & children survive.
Luke Short was held in the Tarrant County Jail. His friend Bat Masterson sat outside his cell all night with a loaded shotgun. The next day Luke Short was found "not guilty" on the grounds of self-defense. Luke resumed his gaming operations at the White Elephant. He was involved in another shootout here in Fort Worth in 1890 with a competing saloon owner. Luke Short then developed dropsy, what we know today as congestive heart failure. As his health got worse he left Fort Worth and headed for the healing mineral waters in Gueda Springs Kansas. He died there in 1893 at the age of 39.

Today these two men are both buried in Fort Worth's Oak Wood Cemetery. Their headstones stand silent, overlooking the skyline of Fort Worth.

Luke Short

 

Luke Short

Although born in Mississippi, Luke grew up just north of Fort Worth in Cooke County. Luke left home at an early age and traveled extensively. He worked driving cattle, peddling whiskey to the Indians in Nebraska, and scouted for the army. Then he found his true love, gambling. Luke began his career as a professional gambler, and a darned good one, in Leadville Colorado. In 1879, at the age of 25, Luke Short shot a man in the face over a gambling debt. He quickly became known as a fellow you didn't want to get cross with. Because of his gambling career Luke became friends with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and Bat Masterson. These men stood beside Luke as the famous "Peace Commission" in Dodge City following a clash between Luke and reform minded city officials. Seems the city wanted to police Luke Short's gaming operations at the Long Branch Saloon. Luke left Dodge City not long after that and came back to Fort Worth where he partnered with Jake Johnson and bought the gaming rights at the White Elephant Saloon.

Jim Courtwright

 

Jim Courtright

A native of Iowa, Jim served in the union army under the command of General John Logan. Jim got the nickname "long haired" because he wore his hair long to emulate his commander whom he greatly admired. In 1866, Jim married and settled in Fort Worth. He was appointed city Marshal in 1876 and held the position for 3 years. Folks in Fort Worth liked Jim. But Jim just wasn't cut out for law enforcement and the politics involved. City officials wanted a clean town but didn't want Jim disrupting the money making gambling parlors. Eventually, Jim and his wife left Ft. Worth. Then in 1883 Jim went to New Mexico where he was hired by his Former commander John Logan, now a U.S. Senator, to keep his ranch free of rustlers and sodbusters. After killing two squatters Jim fled New Mexico and returned to Fort Worth. When New Mexico Rangers came to arrest Jim folks in Fort Worth assisted in an amazing escape. Using a pair of pistols fastened under a café table, and with a saddled mount waiting outside, Jim escaped custody and became a local legend. But he got homesick and missed his family. He was quoted as saying, "I'd rather be dead in a pine box in Fort Worth than alive in any other part of the world." Jim surrendered in New Mexico and cleared his name of all charges. Jim returned to Fort Worth, started the TIC detective agency, and began offering his "protection" service for a piece of the action in the saloons.

Join us for the anniversary of this legendary gunfight.

See the re-enactment of this famous shootout 
Yearly on February 8, at 7 p.m. 

in front of The White Elephant Saloon at
106 East Exchange Ave. - Fort Worth, Texas 76106.
 


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