Which Dodge City dance hall star was shot in her sleep at the mayor’s home?

atm-logoWhich Dodge City dance hall star was shot in her sleep at the mayor’s home?

Don Schneider
North Ogden, Utah

Beautiful and talented, Dora Hand was quite a fascinating woman. She sang in the honky-tonks at night and in the church on Sundays. She was accepted by both upper crust society and the town rowdies.

Hand, who sometimes went by the stage name of Fannie Keenan, was the featured performer at several Dodge City nightspots. Mayor James “Dog” Kelley served akin to a manager for the lady (their relationship may have been more than that too). He allowed Hand and another entertainer, Fannie Garretson, to sleep in his cottage while he was getting medical treatment at Fort Dodge in the fall of 1878.

On the morning of October 4, 1878, Texas cowboy Jim “Spike” Kenedy fired two shots into the house in an attempt to kill the mayor. The two had mixed it up over a variety of things—including the lovely dance hall girl. One of the bullets hit Miss Hand, who died instantly.

Kenedy was run down and captured by a posse that included Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Bill Tilghman. But his cattle baron father utilized his wealth and influence to allow his son to go unconvicted for the killings.

The entire town turned out for Hand’s funeral. She was buried in Boot Hill.

***
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008,
Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at
marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.ed

 

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