With a title like ‘Dodge City,’ there must be a gunfight, right? – Wichita Eagle
Nancy Jo Trauer still remembers receiving the manuscript a year ago.
It was filled with stories about the relationship of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson and “the wickedest town of the American West” – Trauer’s hometown, Dodge City.
The Kansas Heritage Center in Dodge City had received a request, which they passed on to her: Would she read the manuscript?
Trauer, a former mayor of Dodge City and a former chairwoman of tourism and historic preservation of the city, agreed. It was a good read, she said.
“You would enjoy this book even if you don’t read history; it just flows along,” Trauer said.
And then she discovered why. She looked up the author’s name on the internet.
It was written by New York Times best-selling author Tom Clavin, who also wrote “The Heart of Everything That Is,” “Halsey’s Typhoon” and “Reckless.”
The book was released on Feb. 28, and Clavin is now on a national book tour promoting “Dodge City.” He is scheduled to come to Wichita on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas.
The book, Trauer said, follows Earp and Masterton through their lives in Dodge City, Tombstone, Ariz., and other Old West towns.
She was particularly interested in Clavin’s rendition of the Dodge City war and how the two returned to Dodge to help their friend Luke Short, owner of the Long Branch Saloon.
“It was a political thing,” Trauer said. “Luke Short was kicked out of town. Local officials had adopted an ordinance where saloons could not have singers.”
“Singer” was another name for a prostitute, Trauer said.
Short, an Old West gunfighter and gambler, contacted Earp and Masterson. The bloodless war lasted in Dodge City from April 28 to June 7, 1883.
Short was arrested and placed in Dodge City’s jail on April 30, 1883. The next day, he was escorted to the Dodge City depot and told to leave town.
He traveled to Kansas City, where he contacted Charles Bassett at the Marble Hall Saloon. Bassett had been the Ford County sheriff at one time, and Earp and Masterson had been his deputies.
Masterson and Earp were called in to Dodge City along with other gunfighters on May 31, 1883.
“Bat and Wyatt are in Dodge only a few days, long enough for getting Luke Short re-instated,” Trauer said.
Clavin’s book, she said, should cause a spike in Old West tourism to Dodge City.
“We have always had tourists,” Trauer said. “As far back as the early 1900s.
“Dodge City had a reputation because of the dime novels. Writers would write up stories about the Old West that really weren’t true. So there were many astounding stories about Dodge City nationwide.”
When the radio and then TV show “Gunsmoke” became popular in the 1950s, tourists flocked to the city. The Boot Hill Museum was started in 1947 to promote the town’s history and annually attracts thousands of visitors each year.
“It really is a good read,” Trauer said of Clavin’s book. “I am so happy he named it ‘Dodge City.’ ”