Notable Figures of Old Westport

Bat Masterson

Bat Masterson

 

 

Bat Masterson, was a sheriff and notable figure of the American Old West, best known as a gambler, at the trading post I call home. William Barclay Masterson or “Bat”, was also a buffalo hunter and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph.

The Sheriff ‘Bat,’ is a legend, and I believe he made his way to this establishment, in his day. It is towns, like Westport (Kansas City), where gun-toting gamblers, like Bat, had a good time. The gentleman, that once worked here at the turn of the Century, told Bob his tales, I am passing on. Bat was indeed a gambler, and that is what was popular at the Saloon at the edge of town. The road in front of my house, the trading post, is a direct access route to Kansas, for a cowboy buffalo hunter, like Bat Masterson.

The old Westport tavern, I live in, was suspected of selling whiskey to the Indians and held many heated poker games. It may be his connection to the newspapers and law that “Bat” was able to gamble in a joint like this Old Westport Trading Post and Tavern. Bat lived between 1853 and 1921. He died in New York, however, he has been held a hero in these parts (in Kansas and the Missouri Town Westport).

History says that Bat Masterson survived a gun shot to his pelvis and that he walked with a cane. Wikipedia is quoted as saying the story that he had to carry a cane for the rest of his life as a result of this injury was highly perpetuated by the television series, called, “Bat Masterson,” (Gene Barry played Bat.) The fact is, Dodge City, Kansas Mayor  of 1885, presented Mr. Masterson a gold-headed cane, to honor his service to the city. Bat worked alongside Wyatt Earp, as deputy sheriff in Dodge City, capturing train robbers.

At the Recorder of Deeds, occasionally, a document concerning my house was tampered with or missing. The research on my house, dating back to 1850, has a few broken paper trails and paths uncovered. Men, who had a foot on both sides of the law, like Bat Masterson, may have helped conceal the activities of an old west saloon like my house.  A discussion with the library staff of the Missouri Valley Room, indicates that the Patterson widow may have left the Kansas City area during the years her land inheritance case was being considered by the court. During this time, the Patterson family allowed others to rent pieces of her land.

There were several buildings in the late 1800’s, which were sold and moved to other locations. Once source, leads me to believe, that my house was operated by an Indian man. He moved his wooden establishment, (a government-funded trading post). Which would fit the story of this place being moved, by mules, and repositioned to be closer to the road.  Another source of further investigation makes the assumption that the house may have actually been the Patterson’s original house. I will be sharing more, as I learn more about the structure, and the inhabitants.

The pioneer woman, like her husband, was not lacking in energy. “Young wives, mothers, and housekeepers, had come, with their husbands to carve out for themselves and their children a home in the unbroken forest and wide prairies of the west.” My house was once part of the Patterson farm, in Westport Missouri, a town formed in 1820. At my house, the trading  post, thousands of travelers have passed by, and stopped in to quench their thirst or talk about town gossip. Making conversation was part of the fun and adventure.

Once upon a time in a place called Westport, in the State of Missouri there lived a beautiful girl, named Liz. She had been orphaned at birth, when her mother passed away from a fever. Her father was a brave Frenchman and fur trapper who was too busy for her, as he often traveled with explorers into Indian Territory as an interpreter. Her mother, who had both Shoshone Indian and Hidatsa, also had French blood, traveled with her husband interpreting and making peace with the Indians. Her mother was a notable figure, her presence often kept war from breaking out between the early settlers and the wild savages. Her Indian mother died leaving, Liz and her brother, four years older.

After the death of her mother, in 1812, Liz and her brother had been adopted by one of the men that her father worked for. Mainly, because, the gentleman had grown fond of her brother and wished to educated him in St. Louis. However, the man, his name being, Mr. Clark, already had children of his own. The Clark’s lived on a large wealthy farm in St Louis with many slaves. That is where Liz, found someone to look after her, a slave mother. Mrs. Clark was not interested in looking after her own children much less the child of an Indian woman. Mrs. Clark had spent most of her time married to an absent husband. It was Mr. Clark’s job to map trails, establish trading posts, and inspire folks to purchase the new territories.

When Liz was 5, her Brother Jean, went to school in Europe, prior to that, when he could, he would play with Liz in the open fields of their St. Louis, Missouri home. However, tragedy came again, when Mrs. Clark passed away. Liz was lost in the crowd. She was not a member of the family, like her brother Jean. Her father, the fur trapper, while still alive and well, did not live in St. Louis, he continued to be an interpreter and hunter. Liz never thought about him, she never knew him; although she never thought of Mr. Clark as a father either, nor did she consider Mrs. Clark her mother.

Liz stood beside her husband to be, wearing a black dress with a small trim of lace around the collar. It had been brought to Westport from Europe by her brother, Jean. Jean had followed in his French father’s footsteps in being a traveler and interpreter. On his way to Ohio, he stopped off in Westport to attend the wedding of his sister. This would be the last time they would ever see each other.

In front of Mr. Andrew P. Patterson, elected Justice of the Peace, of Westport, Missouri, the couple stood taking the vows of marriage. Her husband, was a strapping, young man from the Wyandotte tribe, who worked for the Kansas Agency in Westport Missouri, a government-funded trading post. He had met Liz at the Patterson’s home.  Liz had lived with them since she was five years old. The year Mr. Clark introduced the distinguished men of St Louis to his exposition papers and convinced Mr. Patterson into investing in a tract of land in Westport.

Liz, at seventeen years old, was younger than the other married girls in town. In 1829, the average age for getting married was at the age of 20. Her husband to be, was 28 years old. She didn’t know what love was, but she wanted the opportunity to find out. Her childhood memories where that of servitude, as she became the scullery maid from the moment she moved into the Patterson’s St. Louis home. The fact that they moved her to Westport, with them, concerned her. She felt hopeless until this day, her wedding.

The man she would marry had just as much of a mixed up heritage as she did. He had been to Europe and done much traveling by the age of 28. He may have had a mix of free-black blood, Indian blood, and French. He was well-educated, and was successful because of his ability to communicate with the Indians. The Census of 1830, documented him as the only Indian Man in town. However, fine gentlemen, like Chouteau,  Vogel, and other Frenchman, in town, respected this man, as any other, white man. Mr. Patterson, and John McCoy, the older generation of Westport were no exception. He carried himself with dignity. He settled in Westport, because he was not fond of wilderness travel. And found the Indians of Missouri and Kansas, at the time, to be very easy to work with. He was a valuable interpreter. Running the trading post in town was about as much wilderness as he wanted. With his new wife, he would be able to build on to his business.

The American pioneer woman was treated like a fellow worker who often took second place to the men in the family. When the Patterson family came to the Westport area, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, all worked in an unfamiliar hostile environment where the trees needed to be removed, their two-story home would have to be built, and all the while the men would carry on with wars, disputes, and fights. Flash floods or fires were also a threat. It wasn’t until her wedding, as Liz saw Racheal Patterson in the corner of her eye, did she realize the women who taught her household duties of every sort and how to sew, was her friend.

The woman formed bonds of friendship that boast loyalty and companionship. The people from Westport and Independence were in constant contact with one another. Close relationships with families in the St. Louis community were common.  Many of these women started to organize official groups, and keep written records of their contributions. In 1870, a small group of women formed a philanthropic social group and purchased a building in downtown Kansas City, just to hold meetings, after their membership grew. Women had the right to own property, run businesses, and make leaps in the years following. The social clubs formed by women were prosperous over the years. These women formed orphanages, schools, brought art and literary opportunities to the community, and constantly improved with current events.

The Native Americans, were being pushed west into settlements between 1830 and 1890.  The Kickapoo Indian were moved from Wisconsin to Kansas in 1830, while the Iowa Indians were being pushed out of Illinois. The town of Westport Missouri started to grow even faster between 1854 and 1861 when the Kansas region was opened for white settlements. The country established the railroad in 1854 and a new chapter begins.

thelion

A 1954 Jukebox, left behind, plays only 50's tunes.

A 1954 Jukebox, left behind, plays only 50’s tunes.

The change of season may bring the blues, but the treasures within this house can almost always brighten my mood. In my bed cloths I move from room to room in this huge saloon from long ago. I carry a load of laundry through Bob’s law office. I get the load in the washer. I drop a quarter into the juke box. A 1954 Wurlitzer plays my selection, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” With no one in sight, I dance and sing along.

It is interesting to consider which characters that may have passed through the doors of this Westport saloon, or inhabited an apartment upstairs.  I truly believe that Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Daniel Boone have been here.I am also convinced that Ernst Hemingway had a friend who lived here (The boy shown in the B&W picture of the tavern in 1909). The boy in the picture continued to live in this neighborhood until the age of 98. I share many of his stories in this blog.  I do not remember the fellow’s name and I am not aware of his exact death (sometime in late 1990’s). If the man says he was friends with Ernst Hemingway, I see no reason why he should lie. There were lots of authors that have lived in Kansas City, he only mentioned being friends with Ernst. It is that old man’s recollection of frontiersman like Masterson and Boone that I write about.

I know for a fact that Bob Seiger, Robin Williams, Rick Spring=+#, BB King, and a song writer guy from ABBA, John Luke Pontic, Pee Wee Herman, One of the guys from ZZ Top, Bonnie Rate and Jackson Brown, to name a few that have been here to jam.  The last group of celebrities were brought here by my husband Bob, who is a musician when he isn’t practicing law.

In fact, Bob claims that right after Jackson Brown jammed in the house, he wrote a hit song about a mean lawyer, shortly after his visit here. Bob says his time spent with Robin Williams the comedian, had him in hysterics; they visited the US Toy Store for Robin to get some props for his act (appearing at the Kansas City Comedy Club). There wasn’t an isle in the toy store that didn’t put Bob to tears. A private, rehearsed comedy routine, a memory trapped in Bob’s head.

My husband Bob, would like to be a full-time golfer, but practicing law pays the bills.  The celebrities Bob knows are still alive. I won’t be writing much about their time here, because such information could be incriminating since it was a different era when they partied here.

Bob Simons playing guitar with Romantics, pictured on right

Bob Simons playing guitar with Romantics, pictured on right

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