The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 82
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
dirty, violent band of men"-camped in the shadow of the army post.
Here, he exclaimed, red-haired poker queen Lottie Deno ran her game,
"her cold-eyed gunmen all around." Fehrenbach's characterization
might have raised the eyebrows of more exacting scholars, yet Fort Grif-
fin was indeed headquarters for buffalo hunters as well as an important
stop for drovers on the Dodge City Trail. Such activities naturally attract-
ed a wide assortment of reprobates. Visitor Rollie Burns, recalling the
scene on the town's main street, told of freighters unloading wagons or
starting for Fort Worth with mountains of hides; trail outfits, too, were
taking on supplies. "Alongside this busy element," he remembered, "was
another, half drunk, boisterous, and bent on raising hell." In the sa-
loons, as in the business houses, money flowed freely. Men of different
races and sectional sympathies eyed one another suspiciously as they el-
bowed for room at bars in such dives as the Bee Hive and the Frontier
House. Gamblers, including Doc Holliday, played cards in back rooms
with lesser known delinquents such as "Banjo Bob" and "Smokey Joe."
Prostitutes, like "Polly Turnover" and "SlewfootJane," also scrambled for
the wages of free-spending transients and provided a wretched backdrop
to match the drab adobe and picket hovels lining Griffin Avenue.2
In an environment where gambling, drinking, and prostitution were
so weakly regulated, many writers have assumed that violence was accept-
ed casually as well. As late as 1992, author Charles Robinson III conclud-
ed that fights and "an occasional killing" were merely "part of the risk of
doing business" in Griffin's heady economic environment. He only
echoed what others had long believed. J. Marvin Hunter, best known for
The Trail Drivers of Texas, said this "wicked little metropolis" was devoid
of the "restraints of... law enforcement." Even eminent West Texas his-
torian Carl Coke Rister wrote that "Here the revolver settled more differ-
ences among men than the judge."I
2 T. R. Fehrenbach, Lone Star: A Hstory of Texas and the Texans (New York: American Legacy
Press, 1983), 536 (1st-3rd quotations), 537; W. C. Holden (ed.), Rollie Burns; or, An Account of
the Ranching Industry on the South Plains (1932; reprint, College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 1986), 54, 55 (4th quotation);J. W. Woody toJ. Evetts Haley, Oct. 19, 1926, J. Evetts Ha-
ley Papers (Interview Files, Panhandle-Plains Museum, Canyon, Texas; cited hereafter as Haley
Papers); Jim Gordon to Haley, Feb. 1923, ibid.; Stribling & Kirkland, "Official Registry and DI-
rectory of Businesses," Circular, n.d., Robert E. Nail Jr. Foundation Collection (Old Jail Art Cen-
ter, Albany, Texas; cited hereafter as Nail Collection). See also various cases filed in District
Court Minutes, Book A, 12th Judicial District Court, Shackelford County, Texas, 1st and 2nd
terms, 1875 (cited hereafter as District Court).
* Charles M. Robinson III, The Frontier World of Fort Griffin: The Life and Death of a Western Town
(Spokane, Wash.: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1992), 73 (1st quotation); J. Marvin Hunter, Lottie Deno:
Her Life and Tsmes (Bandera, Tex.: The 4 Hunters, 1959), 10 (2nd quotation); Carl Coke Rister,
Fort Griffn on the Texas Frontier (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956), 132 (3rd quota-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/110/: accessed June 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.