Bad Blood: Jim Courtright and Luke Short

Jim Courtright

Jim ‘Longhaired’ Courtright
was Fort Worth City Marshall from 1876-1879. No one had ever outdrawn Courtright until that fateful afternoon when he and Luke Short met outside the “White Elephant”.

Luke Short

L. L. Short – a professional gambler and part owner of the famous “White Elephant Saloon” located on Main St. between Second and Third. He was known around Fort Worth as the King of the Gamblers.

Bad blood had been brewing for some time between Luke Short and ‘Longhaired’ Courtright when they met on the evening of Feb. 8th at about 8:00 p.m. A challenge was issued by Courtright. Luke was called out of the White Elephant. Both men moved up the block until they were in front of Ella Blackwell’s Shooting Gallery. They stood facing each other just a few feet apart. Short assured Courtright he had no gun and moved to show him by lifting his vest. It was dark, Courtright had been drinking and he took it as a go for his gun. Courtright yelled, “Don’t you pull a gun on me.” Courtright went for one of his two 45’s on his hips. Courtright outdrew Short. In the process his 45’s hammer caught on his watch chain. Luke drew his pistol and got off the first shot. Short then fired four more shots. Courtright fell to the floor on his back, dying.
The year was 1887. Luke Short never went to trial for killing Courtright. The shooting was a clear cut case of self defense.

“Hell’s Half Acre” by Richard F. Selcer and “Where the West Begins” by Janet L. Schmelzer. Both books are available from the “Best Little Bookstore in Texas”.

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