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, a former managing editor for Western Shooting Horse Magazine and the chief purveyor of ScarletMask Enterprises.