Luke L. Short
Professional Gambler
Reference Material
The Republican
Long Branch Saloon
White Elephant Saloon
Palais Royal Saloon
Cattle Ranch
Gamblers Look
January 6, 2015 - Attention: Author Jack DeMattos just informed me his new book about Luke will be released late May/2015. Nice dustjacket !!!

Luke L. Short was born 1854 in Polk Co. Arkansas to Josiah Short and Hettie Brumley. He was the 5th of 10 children. Luke stood somewhere between 5'4" and 5' 7" and weighed between 125lbs and 145lbs. His eyes were described as pale gray and blue. His hair was brown and he wore a droopy mustache. His face was smooth with a short straight nose.

Luke's occupations were: family farmhand, wrangler, army scout, trader, card dealer, buffalo hunter, Professional Gambler and business owner. 

Based on all that has been written, Luke Short killed a total of 14 men. The first was a Kiowai Indian when Luke was just eight years old. He also wounded a second Indian at that time. In the summer of 1877 while scouting for the army Luke was attacked by five Sioux warriors. He killed all five in a running gun battle. Late that same year while selling whiskey to the Indians he killed 4 Indians that tried to raid his camp. About a year later 2 white men walked into Luke's camp. Shots were exchanged and Luke was wounded, the two whites were dead. That makes a total of 12 kills while outnumbered: war party to 1, 5 to 1, 4 to 1 and 2 to 1. Then to add to this he went mono y mono with Charlie Storms and Tim Courtright. 14 total kills and Luke himself only wounded once.

The Syracuse Times 03/05/1887





Is this Luke's saddle ? Michael McNall, the proud owner, believes it is and with just cause. I am so envious!

  Could this be how Luke's gun looked?

     Attention Short Family Relatives:    

I have spent the last five years searching for information regarding the gun(s) Luke used during his time as a gambler. If anyone can provide information about Luke's gun please contact me.

3/20/2007 - In the book Wild and Woolly: An Encyclopedia of The Old West by Denis McLoughlin, the local bully named Brown that Luke shot in Leadville was identified as Isaac Brown. 
3/22/2007 - More new information has turned up. Luke's wife's full name was Hettie Beatrice Short, per her signature on a court document dated Nov. 22,1889 signed H. Beatrice Short.

07/08/2009 - Hello. I found your web site quite interesting. Especially the photo of Hettie Buck (photo pg 2 of your website), the daughter of D. H. and Henrietta (Miller) Buck, b. 1864, from Boonville, NY. I have been researching the Buck family for a number of years now as they are in my ancestry line. D. H. and Henrietta Buck are buried in Boonville cemetery, NY and while I never was able to find Hettie's gravesite, I now believe that she too is buried in Boonville cemetery. My research has shown that she was married to a James Furman in 1884, thus your statement that it wasn't Nettie Buck married to Luke Short would be correct. Nettie does appear in the 1910 census for Boonville NY under the name Furman and again as a widow in the 1930 census (age 66) living next door to James' brother Walter. It would also be very interesting to learn where the authors of the book 'Legends of the Wild West' got the picture of Nettie Buck.  If any other info should come up about Nettie, I would appreciate hearing about it. Thank you very much. Karl E. Gansberg, Bristow, VA.

9/30/2009 - A few weeks back I received an email from Kenny Vail, fellow Old West researcher and he provided the following:

" There is a Luke Short obituary which recalls that he was "freighting" at Deadwood in 1876.

Also, there is a  lengthy interview with Luke (June 24, 1893) not long before he died in which he claims to have "taken eleven human lives."


I emailed Kenny back requesting copies but have not heard back from him. Sure would be nice to have copies of those documents.

10/20/2010 - New photos of Luke added. One photo came from the White Elephant Saloon in the Stockyards. The second photo is suppose
to be Luke & Jack Harris, what do you think?

10/20/2010 - New photos of Luke added. One photo came from the White Elephant Saloon in the Stockyards. The second photo is suppose
to be Luke & Jack Harris, what do you think?

10/26/2010 -  Hello Bob, I was recently in Booneville, NY and found Hettie's cemetery  plot...  Karl Bristow, Va.

2/21/2011 - More from Kenny Vail; from Luke himself with Hubert Bancroft in Hubert Howe Bancroft Manuscript, pg-33, Bancroft Library, U. of California, Berkley, CA., "located in Ogallala, Nebraska, in 1878... before moving west to Leadville in 1879." Short says, "In June 1880, remaining in Arizonia (sic) till April 1881, when I went to Dodge City remaininig there during the summer of 1881,2 & 3."

... and then this from the Kansas City Star 10/5/1880 - ... John Jones, the gentleman from Texas who was swindled out of $280 on three card monte by one Luke Short, who is now in the calaboose.

Kansas Cit Star 10/11/1880 - William T. Murphy, a young man who introduced Jones, the Texan, to Luke Short, the confidence man, was arrested this morning by detectives Bryant and Hunt. Short was released this morning.  So Luke got himself arrested and spent 6 days in jail.

Kansas City Star 11/24/1880 - John Jones was arrested on general principles last night and fined for the same reason this morning. He is a thief and night worker (criminal who works under the cover of darkness?).

No record has been found regarding the disposition of the case against Luke.  So did the arrest of Jones bring new light as to his character and adversely affect his assertions against Luke?  Who was really the confidence man?

2/28/2011 - More help from Kenny Vail.  About a month ago Kenny started feeding me tidbits of information that eventually grew into complete period newspaper articles about Luke. Over the next few months I will add these articles to the site. Thank you Kenny Vail.

   Dodge City Times - August 3, 1882
Two Chinamen are added to the population of Dodge City. They are directly from Trinidad, and brought with them letters of introduction from Bat Masterson to Luke Short. They engage in the washee business.There are four gentlemen of the Celestial Kingdom now residents of Dodge. All are pursuing the wash business. Mr. Fred Wenie provided the new arrivals with quarters. Fred is chief mogul among the Chinese. He speaks their language fluently. But he can't go their diet of rats, mice, and rice.

Fort Worth Daily Gazette - January 3, 1888
Jake Johnson to Luke Short, 50X100 feet on Pecan and Sixth. Consideration.... 2,500.00

Fort Worth Daily Gazette - July 3, 1889
 Bud Fagg, Luke Short, Nat Kramer, Joe Copeland, Bat Masterson and party leave to-night for New Orleans to see Sullivan and kilrain fight.

Fort Worth Daily Gazette - June 2, 1890
Miss Mattie Allen, a cousin of Mrs. Luke Short and a kin of Ethan Allen of revolutionary fame, is visiting at Mr Short's residence.

Fort Worth Daily Gazette - June 3, 1890
A couple of athletes will enter the ring at the opera house on next Monday night and wrestle for a purse of $500. Mr. Luke Short holds the stakes and Will Willie and Tom Shields are the contestants.

Brenham Weekly Banner - February 19, 1891
"Articles of agreement have been entered by Captain T.S. Shiel and Peter Erea for a broad sward contest on horseback for $500 a side. Luke Short is stake holder. The battle will occur as soon as the men can train," Prize fights with light gloves have become frequent while the authorities winked at the violation of the law, in spirit if not in letter, but we wonder if men will be permitted to go into a broad sword contest without restraint, and in case they engage in this contest and one is slain, what the charges against his slayer will be?  If there is no law to prohibit such a contest the 22nd Legislature could do nothing better in the time it would take them to enact one.

Fort Worth Gazette - August 4, 1893
LUKE SHORT'S CONDITON : Last evening Luke Short was reported as somewhat worse than on the day before, though much better than before the operation of tapping for dropsy was performed. His condition is still very precarious, but the chances are almost even for his recovery. 

The dropsical affection can probably be overcome, but he is suffering from a complication of diseases which makes his case an unusally difficult one for treatment.


Fort Worth Gazette - August 23, 1893
Last evening on the north-bound Santa Fe, a number of friends accompannied Luke Short on his way to Geuda Springs, in Sumner County, Kan., where he goes in the hope that the change of climate and the medicinal qualities of the famous waters will do him a considerable amount of good and may, perhaps prolong his life.

Mr. Short was feeling considerably better than at any time since the operation and was in as good condition as could be expected for the tedious journey. Many friends will hope his anticipations of improvement will be fully realized.

4/5/2011 - In the book, "Masterson and Roosevelt", by Jack DeMattos, page 113, movie actor William S. Hart who was the pallbearer for both Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp, wrote a tribute to Bat Masterson shortly after his death in 1921. In the tribute Hart wrote ... To those few who have studied the history of frontier days, there two names (Masterson & Earp) are revered as none others. They are the last of the greatest band of gun-fighters -upholders of law and order- that ever lived. Wild Bill Hickok, Luke Short, Doc Holliday, Shotgun Collins, Ben Thompson, all have crossed the Big Divide but Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp still live...

7/13/2013 - Luke Short was in Cimarron, KS with wife on Sunday Sept. 25, 1887, per his signature on the New West Hotel registar. Was he just passing through or did he have unfinished business dealings in Dodge City?  Remember, Luke sued the City over his bond money, $2,000.00, posted back in 1883 when he was arrested and run out of town under a threat of death if he returned. Did he select Cimarron because he had wife Hettie with him and was concerned about troubles in Dodge or was he concerned about female friends in Dodge City? So many questions, so few answers. See photo of the Hotel Luke and Hettie stayed at on the photo tab of Luke, page 2. Also see Luke's actual signature on the Hotel Ledger.

Commerical break: If in the Dodge City area make it a point to visit (stay) at the New West Hotel (now named Cimmarron Hotel) in Cimarron, KS. Thank you Kathy Holt, owner of the Cimarron Hotel,  for taking the time to contact me regarding Luke Short and for the hospitality you showed my wife and I during our visit with you.

1/8/2014 - Hallelujah !!! We now have a copy of Luke's marriage certificate thanks to Luke relative Judy Ohmer. Judy also provided Hettie's birth place along with parent information.  Plus, photo's of Luke's brother John and wife's grave markers.

Also know that a new book about Luke is to be published this year by well known author Jack DeMatto's.  Maybe this will get Luke to the big screen where be belongs.
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Luke L. Short
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