Marshal Tom “Bear River” Preferred Fists to Guns

Tom smith true west

Abilene, Kansas Marshal Tom “Bear River” Smith gained a reputation for using fists instead of guns.  According to one story, he earned that rep.  Sometime in 1870, a group of Texas cowboys disobeyed the local ordinance against carrying guns in town.  Smith ordered them to disarm; they refused.  Smith walked up to the leader, who tried to pull his pistol. Before he could do so, the marshal—who’d been a champion boxer– decked the Texan with one punch. The other cowboys, amazed, proceeded to check their weapons at the lawman’s office.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.