- The Notorious Luke Short: Sporting Man of the Wild West by Jack DeMattos, Chuck Parsons
Luke Short was a western adventurer of the front rank. Raised on the Texas frontier, he rode as a trail driver and as an army scout, and during a successful career as a professional gambler he proved himself to be a deadly gunman. Short’s activities in the West took him from the Black Hills to the Rocky Mountains to the southwestern deserts. He was a well-known if contentious citizen of Fort Worth, Tombstone, Dodge City, Leadville, and other rugged communities in their Wild West primes. Despite all of his far-ranging exploits, Luke Short somehow has been overlooked by biographers and the general public. Until now.
Two respected and experienced authors of western gunmen, outlaws, [End Page 529] and lawmen have collaborated to tell the colorful story of The Notorious Luke Short: Sporting Man of the Wild West. Jack DeMattos and Chuck Parsons combined their formidable research skills to present a wealth of new facts about Luke Short, and their version of his exciting life has added a great deal of fascinating material to our fund of knowledge about the diminutive gambler-gunfighter. The University of North Texas Press, which has published numerous books about western lawmen, gunfighters, and blood feuds, has produced a handsome volume which already has earned Book of the Year honors from the English Westerners Society and which certainly will be considered for other awards.
As a young cowboy Luke Short visited Abilene during its cowtown heyday. He soon gravitated to gambling, and he became associated with several of the West’s most famous saloons: the Long Branch in Dodge City, the Oriental in Tombstone, and the White Elephant in Fort Worth. He operated gaming tables in these and other Western saloons, and he killed Charles Storms and Jim Courtright just outside, respectively, the Oriental and the White Elephant. The life of a frontier gambler was dangerous, and Short always carried a revolver. A natty dresser, he often wore his pistol in tailored pants with a soft leather pocket. Through the years Short engaged in a series of gunfights with several adversaries. But he prospered as a gambler, and he expanded his activities to horse racing and prize fighting, traveling to major sporting events on private railroad cars. Short and his beautiful wife, Hattie Buck, lived in first-class hotels, and eventually built a fine home in Fort Worth. His health failed in 1893, however, and Short died of kidney disease at the age of thirty-nine. He was buried in Fort Worth’s Oakwood Cemetery, only a short distance from the grave of his most famous gunfight victim, Jim Courtright. The life and career of The Notorious Luke Short at last has been presented in a volume that is a worthy addition to the collection of any student of western sporting men and shootists.