5 famous Denver lawmen you may not ready about in history books

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 23:19:23-04

DENVER – When you think of the American Old West, you think of the lone cowboy seeking justice or gunslingers catching the bad guys.

That’s not too far from the truth when you consider what these 7 men and woman did back in the day here in Denver.

1. W.B. “Bat” Masterson

Born in Iberville County, Quebec, Canada on November 26, 1853, W.B. “Bat” Masterson made a living as a buffalo hunter, a Native American fighter, a law officer, undersheriff and eventual sheriff of Ford County, Kansas. He also made a living as a gambler, and as Marshal of the Town of Trinidad, in Colorado, according to a Kansas history website.

It wasn’t until 1891 that he would come live in Denver, where he bought the Palace Variety Theater, located at 15th and Blake Streets at the time.

He married Emma Walter, an actress and continued gambling and would even make a living writing a weekly sports column.

According to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, Masterson served as deputy sheriff of Arapahoe County sometime before 1897 before he was booted out.

Masterson would eventually leave Denver, as he had become a dangerous drunk who was kicked out of the city for being a public nuisance, according to the World Heritage Encyclopedia.

2. J.H. “Doc” Holliday

Born John Henry in Griffin, Ga., on Aug. 14, 1851, the man who would eventually become known as “the West’s Deadliest Dentist,” started a career as a dentist that would be cut short after finding out he had tuberculosis.

On a recommendation from a doctor, Holliday packed his belongings and moved west, eventually arriving to Denver in 1876. From there, he reportedly engaged in many gun fights, knife fights and killings – most of which were made up by him so he could protect himself as he was described as scrawny and weak by historians, according to

Holliday was said to have lived in Denver, Trinidad, Leadville and Glenwood Springs.

Holliday’s health suffered greatly due to complications from to his tuberculosis. He reportedly woke up on on Nov. 8, 1887 and asked for a glass of whiskey and saying, “this is funny,” before dying.

3. David J. Cook

Born sometime in the early 1800s, David J. Cook was an American western lawman and the Denver City Marshal credited with over 3,000 arrests during his tenure.

Before becoming City Marshal, Cook worked as a farmhand in Kansas and then moved to Gilpin County in 1859 looking for gold.

In 1861, he joined the Colorado Cavalry during the Civil War and was assigned to conduct counterespionage for the Union Army by tracking Confederate spies and investigating gold smuggling and other crimes, according to

He was so good at this job, he eventually founded the Rocky Mountain Detective Association, a volunteer-only group of Colorado troubleshooters.

Cook is credited with tracking down and arresting the leader of the Musgrove-Franklin Gang. He is also credited with preventing a Ute tribe revolt from getting out of hand in 1878.

Cook was buried in Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.

4. Lyssa Chapman

Lyssa Chapman, more commonly known as “Baby Lyssa,” is a Denver businesswoman and former bail bondswoman and bounty hunter.

She is known for appearing on A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter, along with her father, a show in which they hunted down and captured wanted fugitives, according to Wikipedia.

5. Leland Chapman

Leland Chapman is also part of the Chapman family of bail bondsman and bounty hunters.

He also appeared on A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter.