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Fred Rosen

Fred Rosen

Sunrise, Florida

William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was my childhood idol. When I became an investigative reporter, determined to stand up for the underdog like he did, he became an adult role model.

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About the author


In his book, Murdering the President: Alexander Graham Bell and the Race to Save James Garfield, h/c, September 2016, University of Nebraska Press, Rosen rewrote American history.

His original research proved that Charles Guiteau didn’t assassinate President Garfield and who his real murderer was. Rosen’s detective work was chronicled on Page 3 of The New York Post. Here’s the link.

His current book is The Bayou Strangler, Open Road Media, 2017.  His books have been published by HarperCollins, St. Martin's Press, Prometheus Books, Pinnacle Books and FactsonFile among others.

Rosen has been on many Investigation Discovery TV programs, including Evil Twins, Evil Kin, Deadly Sins and On the Case with Paula Zahn.  H's also appeared on Dateline NBC.

A former columnist for the Arts and Leisure Section of The New York Times, Rosen was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Film at the New York Institute of Technology. He previously was an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University. He has a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from the legendary film school at the University of Southern California. 

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Bat Masterson: The First Dreamer

William Barclay "Bat"Masterson was an American legend in his own time. With a secret! He was really a dreamer, a role model to all of today's dreamers and Americans.

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History Politics, Journalism, True Crime
70,000 words
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There's a secret the famous American on this stamp carried throughout his lifetime -- a secret that stopped him from accepting the nomination to one of the highest offices in the United States.

In 1905, William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a sports reporter for the New York Morning Telegraph.  He was the former sheriff of Dodge City, frontier scout, Indian fighter, professional gambler and a legendary gunfighter.

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt (TR) offered Bat the job as U.S. Marshal for the Oklahoma Territory.

“It wouldn’t do! A man of my peculiar reputation couldn’t hold such a place without trouble. I’d have some drunken boy to kill once a year. Some kid who was born after I took my guns off would get drunk and look me over and the longer he looked, the less he’d be able to see where my reputation came from. In the end he’d crawl around to a gunplay and I’d have to send him over the jump,” Masterson wrote TR in his refusal letter.

Masterson was a talented writer. That letter is the only time he lied in print, let alone to the President of the United States. Well, it was easier than telling TR the truth. The truth meant losing his reputation, which was more important to him that anything else in the world. And much, much worse.

A nominee to be Federal Marshal, whether of a state or territory, needs to be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate. If that had happened, Masterson knew he’d be lucky to get out of the Senate hearing without being put in handcuffs and deported to a country he never called home.

Masterson is what today we call a dreamer.  He kept his secret his whole life.  How did this dreamer do?  He became a living American legend, who commented on a 21st Century disaster in the Washington Post in 2017.


Table of Contents

Prologue  - The First Dreamer

Bat Masterson is an American frontier legend, on a  U.S. stamp.  In 1904 he turned down a federal appointment requiring Senate approval.  He was afraid it would be discovered he was what today we call a dreamer, then deported to a country he never called home.

PART ONE - They Called Him Bat, Bat Masterson

Chapter One- The Illegal Alien

Masterson was 8 when his parents took him across the unmarked Canadian border into the U.S.  Facing discrimination in Upstate New York, they moved to Kansas where Masterson and older brother Ed became teenage buffalo hunters. 

Chapter Two -

Old Bat

Gaining fame as a buffalo hunter, he is given the nickname of "Bat," after another famous huntsman. Like many immigrants, he has reinvented himself.  Masterson and Wyatt Earp become lifelong friends.

Chapter Three - Battle of Adobe Walls 

Bat makes his reputation as an Indian fighter at a Texas buffalo-hunting settlement attacked by Indians. The irony? An illegal immigrant is firing at Native Americans.

Chapter Four - Mollie Brennan and the Sweetwater Shootout

Pres. Grant signs the Page Act, the nation's first law to restrict immigration. In Texas, Masterson loves Mollie.  She throws herself in front of a bullet meant for him.  He shoots her killer;  Mollie dies. 

Chapter Five- Mere Claptrap

The shootout leaves Masterson with a limp.  Sometimes using a cane, he is elected sheriff of Ford County, Kansas, including Dodge City, where he has many adventures, some with Earp. 

Chapter Six - Dodge City Hours

Ed Masterson is killed by two cowboys.  When they turn on him, Bat shoots them dead.  Now, two people close to him have been murdered.

Chapter Seven- Dora Hand 

Bat solves the murder of a famous Dodge City entertainer.  He shoots the killer in the arm, who later dies from the wound, Masterson's fourth killing.

Chapter Eight -Time to Get Out of Dodge

Masterson meets and greets Frank and Jesse James.  Then he saves Texas Billy Thompson from a lynch mob, with the assistance of Buffalo Bill Cody.

Chapter Nine  - Ink Stained Wretch

Pres. Arthur bans Chinese immigrants.  Bat publishes Vox Populi, a newspaper which gives him the writing bug.

Chapter Ten - Emma From Philadelphia 

Pres. Harrison gets the 1891 Immigration Act passed, expanding the list of "excludable and deportable immigrants."  Bat meets, falls in love with and marries Emma Moulton.

Chapter Eleven -The Fight of the Century

Pres. Cleveland begins the first mass deportations in U.S. history.  Bat gets into boxing as an official at championship fights. During one of them, he meets Judge Roy Bean, the legendary Law West of the Pecos. 

Chapter Twelve - Gun to His Back 

Pres. McKinley deports even more illegal aliens. Bat knows he is one.  If the government knew this, he'd lose everything. In the 1900 census, Bat lies and claims he was born in Missouri.  Then, his citizenship at a Denver polling place is questioned.

PART TWO - A Gambler's Game He Always Won

Chapter Thirteen -The Great White Way 

Railing at his citizenship being challenged, Bat is kicked out of Denver at gunpoint. Masterson goes to NYC and becomes the sports editor of the NY Morning Telegraph, reporting on boxing.

Chapter Fourteen - White House Gunfighter 

TR wants to appoint Bat federal marshal of Oklahoma, requiring a senate hearing, where his secret would be exposed.  Bat turns him down. TR appoints him deputy marshal of NYC, which doesn't require Senate confirmation.  Masterson becomes good friends with Damon Runyon and Ty Cobb among others.

Chapter Fifteen  - Murder at Big Moose Lake 

Chester Gillette's alleged murder of Grace Brown is the biggest murder case in New York State history.  Bat is sent upstate to cover it.

Chapter Sixteen - The Trial of the Century

Masterson notices during Gillette's sensational murder trial how prejudicial the judge and DA are. 

Chapter Seventeen - The Little Factory Girl

The case becomes the basis for the 1925 novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and the 1951 film A Place in the Sun starring Montgomery Clift , Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters.  

Chapter Eighteen - New Style Lynch Law In Upstate New York

After Gillette's murder conviction, Masterson writes a story calling out the judge and D.A. for corruption.  He believes Gillette is innocent. This dreamer then has to defend the First Amendment because of what he writes.

Chapter Nineteen - Return to Dodge

Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1907, creating new categories of "undesirables." Bat lies and tell the 1910 census taker he was born in Missouri.  He attends the Great White Hope fight in Reno. 

Chapter Twenty - The Gunfighter and the Supreme Court Justice

Masterson sues the NY American for libel over an article that says he made his reputation shooting Mexicans and Indians in the back.  Future Supreme Court justice Benjamin Cardozo is the paper's attorney at trial.

Chapter Twenty-One -  Johnson V. Willard

Covering the 1915 World Heavyweight Championship fight in Cuba between the hated black champion and the white challenger, Masterson shows in his writing how unbiased he is.

Chapter Twenty-Two - The Great Prognosticator

Pres. Wilson endorses a plan to stop a Canadian invasion, making Masterson a possible enemy of the U.S.  Bat covers the  Jack Dempsey v Jess Willard championship fight, this time guessing wrong on who the winner will be.

Chapter Twenty-Three - William S. Hart, Western Movie Star

Still concerned about deportation, Masterson lies again in 1920, telling the census taker he's from Illinois.  He is befriended by Hart, the silent screen's most famous Western actor.

Chapter Twenty-Four- No One Has Come Since to Replace His Name

Oct. 25, 1921, Masterson dies writing at his desk in NYC.  Hailed as an American legend, he went to his grave with his secret as a dreamer intact. 

Chapter Twenty-Five - A Gambler's Game He Always Won

Masterson influences a whole generation of sports journalists.  His friend Damon Runyon immortalizes him in a short story that becomes the film Guys and Dolls, where Marlon Brando plays Sky Masterson, a character based on Bat.  Gene Barry played Bat in a classic TV Series, '58-'61 and later in the late 80's-'90's in TV movies of the week.  Bat was put on a US stamp in 1994.

Epilogue - Houston, Texas, 2017

How did this dreamer do?  An American legend, from the grave, Masterson commented on Hurricane Harvey in the Washington Post.


End Notes



This is the first book to look at Bat Masterson as an illegal alien.  Given the current debate in the U.S. regarding illegal immigration, my book gives everyone a true dreamer role model.   Bat Masterson was an American living legend.  

The book has four markets: those who know Bat Masterson; those who are interested in the current debate regarding dreamers; history and true crime readers.




Rosen has 1300 Facebook friends who are readers.  He is an administrator in a true crime group with 2100 members who buy his books.  He is also a member of Facebook dreamer, history, and other true crime groups with over 40,000 members.

UPDATE: The Trail of the Century chapter from my book has just been published in True Crime: Case Files Magazine

I am an administrator in the Facebook True Crime with Maria Group that has 2100 members.  The second week in March, I am hosting an online discussion about the book.


He's appeared on Dateline NBC.  A regular on Investigation Discovery (ID) programming, where he has appeared as a commentator in many episodes of Evil Twins, Evil Kin, Deadly Sins, On the Case With Paula Zahn and other shows. Each time he tapes a show, whatever book he is promoting appears next to his name on the lower third of the screen. These shows have numerous domestic and international repeats and increase book sales.


Rosen is a regular guest on True Murder with Dan Zupansky, which has 1,000,000 verifiable listeners. Zupansky interviews him about four times a year.


Jim DeFelice – a New York Times best-selling author, he is the co-author of American Sniper. 

Harold Schechter - The dean of historical true crime and best-selling author.

Hank Garfield – a novelist, he is the great great grandson of Pres. James Garfield. Hank wrote the foreword to Rosen's book Murdering the President. 


  • Wyatt Earp: The
    Life Behind the Legend
    by Casey Tefertiller, Wiley,1997

Tefertiller debunks the Earp myth of the noble frontier marshal perpetuated by Stuart Lake’s fictional biography. He shows how Earp committed the cold-blooded murder of two men he believed were responsible for the assassination of his brother Morgan. Tefertiller’s best-seller builds a completely different view of Earp, seen through the prism of what a person does when law breaks down in a lawless place.

  • Dodge City:
    Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American
    Hardcover by Tom Clavin, h/c, St. Martin’s Press, 2017

An excellent book about Earp and Masterson's law enforcement service in Dodge City.

  • Gunfighter in
    Gotham: Bat Masterson's New York City Years
    by Robert DeArment,
    2013 University of Oklahoma Press. 

DeArment tries overly hard to
demystify Masterson's life in the Big Apple and in the process,
misses the key point: while the TV series was a fictionalized
version of his life, it was based on a real biography. In his
effort to desensationalize, he turns Masterson into a rather
ordinary figure.

  • Legends of the
    West: The Life and Legacy of Bat Masterson by
    Charles River Editors, p/b 2013, CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Discusses Masterson's most famous shootouts and his
friendship with famous Westerners.  Sensationalism without
historical accuracy.

10 publishers interested
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. logo Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

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The Old West ended the moment Hamilton Armstrong, Denver’s Chief of Police, picked up the telephone to call Jim Marshall, Cripple Creek’s town marshal.

There were no telephones in the Old West. The fastest communication was between telegraph stations. Not every town had one. Sometimes you had to ride from one town to another to get word out about something, or maybe write a letter and mail it.

Before inventing the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell had perfected a telegraph that improved on Samuel Morse’s invention. But it  wouldn’t do. Aleck Bell knew there had to be a faster way to communicate by voice instantly and he set to work on following through on his dream.

At the same moment on the afternoon of June 25, 1876 that Custer engaged the Cheyenne and Sioux at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana Territory, thousands of miles east in the City of Brotherly Love, Dr. Bell introduced the world to his telephone at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Once a locality was wired for the phone and the wiring extended to other venues, Bell’s phone changed everything, especially emergency communication. If the phone was not in existence, Armstrong would have had to telegraph Marshall, instead of getting him on the phone instantly.

It was one hundred fifteen miles as the crow flies from Denver to Cripple Creek. Before the phone, by the time telegram was sent, delivered to Marshall, he answered it, made his plans and then departed Cripple Creek, it could be days before he reached Denver.

During the interim, someone could be dead from a bullet fired from Masterson’s drunken gun. Or maybe Masterson himself. Not now.  The phone call from Denver to Cripple Creek was faster than any bullet in existence. Marshall had gotten the phone call instantly and had hightailed it for Denver by train.

Bat and Marshall had history; they knew each other from Dodge City. Now it was a day later. Marshall’s train let him off in Denver a little too late to meet Bat at the barber shop at 10AM. The barber had done as Bat requested and told Marshall where he was.

It was early afternoon when Marshall sauntered quietly into the saloon and smartly, came up on Bat’s right side, next to his gun hand, which made it difficult for Bat to draw his revolver in an
unobstructed manner. Masterson looked up from his drink and turned to his right.

Just seeing his old, armed acquaintance sobered him up. He knew Marshall would use his gun if he felt the need to. Bat realized that he had done something he had never done - he’d acted stupidly, out of emotion. No matter how upset he was at having his citizenship challenged, he never should have been hurrahing the Denver saloons with his gun.

He could never live with himself if someone was shot because he got drunk. What was he some low life Dodge City cowboy looking for trouble? He was better than that.

“Does this mean a killing, Jim?” he asked, looking Marshall in the eyes.

“Depends on whether you are reasonable, Bat.” Marshall answered.

“Meaning just what?”

“Meaning that it is for you to say.”

“What do you mean, reasonable?”

“Denver is too big a town for you to hurrah, Bat. Time for you to move on.”

If things went further in Denver, they would soon discover he was in fact disqualified to vote, because he was an illegal alien.

“If I leave, how soon do I have to go?” he asked Marshall.

“Could you make the four o’clock Burlington, Bat?”

“I  reckon so.”

The four o’clock Burlington went eastbound to Chicago. What he told Emma is unknown. What is known is that he did as agreed. No newspaper got the story of Bat Masterson being kicked out of Denver.

Jim Marshall made certain of it. He visited the local papers and
told them to forget it, there was no story. Bat had kept his word
and Marshall felt he deserved his dignity.

Bat stopped in Chicago to see his friend William Pinkerton of the
Pinkerton National Detective Agency. After renewing their
acquaintance, Bat got on a train for New York City. Once again, he got to see Upstate New York.

Just as the railroad helped make Dodge City into a center of commerce, the same thing happened in New York City, except on a much grander scale. Bat’s train came into Manhattan through the north, traversing the Park Avenue Tunnel. 

What he saw when he got off the train at Forty Second Street on the eastside of midtown Manhattan was a terminal
with lots of tracks running into and out of it. The place had high,
vaulted ceilings.

It was a truly majestic space, in which the echoing sound of the
locomotive brakes bounced off the walls. When Masterson walked outside onto 42nd Street, he saw the trolleys going down the street. 

And there were people everywhere, more than he had ever seen in any one place in any city. In fact there were three and a half million people in New York City. Denver wouldn’t even fit in one borough. 

There was no difference between Bat and the others before him who had come to the city to make a new life for their family and themselves. His new life was in front of him on the city’s streets, just as it was for any immigrant. That’s what America was about – a new life, a chance to reinvent yourself.

The five boroughs comprising New York City are the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Four years earlier in 1898, they were all consolidated as one municipal entity, New York City. The Federal government had jurisdiction in the Eastern District of New York that included Brooklyn, and the Southern District of New York, which included Manhattan, over those committing federal crimes.

Boxing, horse racing, baseball all flourished in the city. Baseball was particularly popular. The Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the New York Giants, another National League team, played in Manhattan’s the Polo Grounds, a place known as Coogan’s Bluff.

For a sporting man like Masterson, New York City was the perfect place for a second act. Like anyone else walking the pavement, Masterson could feel the energy of the place coming right up from the ground.

Street cars and their tracks traversed the city west and east, then north and south. Overhead were railroad lines that traversed Manhattan from one end of the island to the other.

And then there was Broadway. Known as the Great White Way, it was pretty obvious why. At night, the place was completely lit up with electric lights on all the buildings that lined the street. Office buildings, legitimate theaters, vaudeville theaters, saloons, restaurants and stores were all lit up, sometimes in various colors, though usually with white lights.

The city was so exciting, it was intoxicating. Masterson had left Denver in  sort of a hurry, for obvious reasons. So he didn’t have a chance to plan out anything to do when he arrived to make a living.  He stayed at his friend George Considine's Hotel Metropole at 147 West 43rd Street, a block off Times Square.

After a few days at the downtown hotel, Bat decided to go uptown. Anything above 50th Street in Manhattan is considered uptown.

“I went up to see a friend on 65th Street near Columbus Avenue,
yesterday afternoon. He was out and I walked back to the avenue. I saw a fruit stand and bought an orange and was walking up the street peeling the fruit when I thought I’d get a shine. Then I walked along and met Sullivan, an old Western friend,” he later told The New York Times.

It is also very clear from his description that Masterson already knew  his way around the city, from when he had protected Jay Gould’s son years earlier. Bat didn’t see anything unusual about him, a frontiersman, being in the biggest city in the United States, perhaps even the world.

“He (Sullivan] told me he was going to sail for Europe today, but I guess he won’t, because this fresh detective locked him up too, for what I don’t know. Sullivan and I were talking, when the first
thing I knew somebody tripped Sullivan and knocked him into the gutter.

“They slugged him hard, and then pitched him into a saloon. Then they came at me, but they were not very rough. They told me they were officers and put me in the saloon. They drove us in cabs down to Headquarters and there I saw Snow, whom I knew slightly, and I thought to myself:

‘Gee, the big slob has been pinched too. I wonder what he has been doing.’”

Masterson had just gotten kicked out of one town at gunpoint, and now he was being arrested in another. The cops told Masterson he and the others were being arrested for running a crooked faro game in which they cheated George H. Snow on the train from Chicago to New York City. A resident of Salt Lake City, Snow was the son of the president of the Mormon church, as well as a church elder himself.

“I  went up to Snow [at the police station] and asked him what he meant by having me arrested. He answered, ‘I don’t know you at all, sir.’

“Well, you ought to know me for you’ve caused my arrest,” Masterson said to Snow.

Before Bat even had a chance to declare his innocence, the police searched him, as they would any suspect they were in the process of booking for a crime.

“A huge revolver was found in his hip pocket,” the New York Times reported. iHe was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The court set a $500 bond.“

Bat always carried a revolver. What he didn’t know was that unlike the other places he’d lived in, New York State had a law that disallowed carrying a concealed weapon. He was booked for carrying the concealed Colt revolver and cheating Snow in the faro game.

Bat had quite a few friends in New York City. Besides George Considine, there was the boxing community. Between then all, they came up with the $500 for Bat’s bond. He was freed, pending a formal hearing. Still, the loss of his gun really bothered him.

“It’s like losing all I have,” he told The New York Times. “It is like
my life, for it has often saved my life, and they took it away from
me. Property confiscated by the police, I understand, is auctioned off, and there will be someone there to get that gun for me if it costs many stacks of blues to do it.”ii

A short time later, Elder Snow decided to drop the charges against him. The court fined Bat ten dollars for carrying a concealed weapon.  There is no record of whether or not Bat got his revolver back. 

The press from coast to coast speculated whether it was the same gun with 23 notches that he used to kill all those men, as previously reported by the New York Sun.

Masterson paid his fine, the other charges were dropped. With his legal problems resolved, Bat sent for Emma. When Emma arrived, they took up residence at 300 West Forty Ninth Street.
Bat looked up at the eight-story apartment building, where they had decided to rent an apartment in the middle of the theater district.

Constructed of red brick, the building looked like it would withstand a hurricane. Each floor had a set of three windows facing out to the street. It was certainly bigger than anything he’d lived in before. Their apartment was on the third floor, a walk-up. Now that they were settled, Masterson knew that he needed a job.

Just as the New York Sun’s article about him killing 23 men helped build his reputation, so did his arrest for fleecing Elder Snow, especially carrying the Colt. 45. As far as the local papers were concerned, Bat Masterson was the real thing: a bonafide Old West lawman in the big city. That made him a celebrity.

Masterson didn’t look at New York City any differently than Denver or Dodge or whatever. Except there was more opportunity to make money here.  Yes, gambling wasn’t legal in New York, so he couldn’t be a professional gambler like he’d been out West. And the only bison were in the local zoo.

That left one option for him: writing and reporting on what he knew: boxing. Professional prizefighting was legal in New York State.  Then in 1903, an Immigration Act was passed by Congress that added four inadmissible classes of people who could not immigrate to then U.S., including epileptics.

If Emma, an epileptic, had been an immigrant, she would have not been allowed in the  country. Months later, Bat looked up the Lewis brothers. William E. Lewis  was now editor of the New York Morning Telegraph newspaper.  His brother Alfred Henry had become a well-known, prolific book and magazine writer.

When they all got together, fully aware of his Denver boxing and
journalistic background, William E. Lewis offered Bat the job of his paper’s sports editor. Here, in NYC in his fiftieth year, Masterson knew he was being offered something no one from his background had ever been offered – a second act.

No gunfighter, sheriff or marshal that Masterson was aware of had ever been able to start a new and different career later in their lives. Heck, most of them were dead. And now that he had reached this pinnacle in his life, Masterson took it one step further and much higher up.

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