When Gunsmoke’s Marshal Dillon, Doc or Festus visited Miss Kitty’s to have a beer and a steak, would they have been presented with a choice of cuts? And by the way, just what was a “grub steak?”

When Gunsmoke’s Marshal Dillon, Doc or Festus visited Miss Kitty’s to have a beer and a steak, would they have been presented with a choice of cuts? And by the way, just what was a “grub steak?”

Bob Crabb
Seguin, Texas

The nicer restaurants would certainly offer a choice of cuts. Heck, in the 1880s, the fancy places in Tombstone, Arizona, served oyster under glass, shipped all the way from Guaymas, Mexico. The lower class joints and stagecoach stations provided plenty of mustard to mask any foul taste. By the way, Miss Kitty’s Long Branch was a saloon. The boys would have gone to Delmonico’s for their steaks.

A grubstake was the act of furnishing supplies or funds to somebody, usually a miner or prospector. By grubstaking somebody, you entered into a partnership and became eligible to share in anything found.

Legendary Tombstone entrepreneur Nellie Cashman once grubstaked a miner and got a $100,000 return. Storekeeper Horace Tabor of Leadville, Colorado, made his first fortune after two prospectors he grubstaked got lucky.

Even so, the act was a gamble. If the partner came up empty, your investment went south.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.