Sunday, March 11, 2012

Frank Loving

Frank Loving, sometimes called "Cockeyed" Frank Loving (1860 - April 21, 1882) was an Old West gambler and gunman. His two known gunfights were two of the better known and well publicized shootouts of the day, although over time they have become obscure.

Loving was born in Jackson County, Missouri, and later moved with his family to Texas, where his father died in the early 1870s. He began making his living as a professional gambler by his late teens, frequenting saloons and eventually landing in Dodge City, Kansas. Once settled in Dodge City, Loving began to frequent the Long Branch Saloon, where he became associated with other well known gamblers, gunmen and lawmen, to include Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Charlie Bassett, John Allen, and with a friendship developing between him and gunman/gambler Levi Richardson. He also became good friends with Long Branch Saloon owner Chalkley Beeson.

Loving would later leave his wife Mattie, along with their children, son John and daughter Mintie to travel elsewhere as a gambler. By 1880 Loving had moved on to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he settled in to gamble for a matter of months before moving on to Trinidad, Colorado. There, he quarreled with John Allen, an acquaintance from Dodge City, who worked at the Imperial Saloon. On April 15, 1880, the two men seemed destined for a gunfight, but it was thwarted when friends intervened. Had the gunfight happened that day, it likely would have ended differently.

The next day, April 16, 1880, as Loving entered the saloon, Allen immediately opened fire on Loving while Allen shielded himself behind another patron. Loving drew his revolver and fired one round, missing. As people scrambled to escape, Loving's gun was knocked from his hand. Allen fired a total of three shots at Loving, two while Loving was unarmed and trying to retrieve his dropped pistol. Allen then fled out the rear door. Loving went in pursuit, firing the remainder of his rounds as Allen fled. Loving was unable to find Allen. John Allen feared Loving, and had gone into hiding inside the Hammond's Hardware Store. Trinidad Deputy Marshal Jim Masterson responded to the shots, finding Loving still in the vicinity of the saloon. Disarming Loving, Masterson then went to find Allen. Unable to do so, Masterson returned to the saloon, only to find that Loving had rearmed with two more revolvers, and again went looking for Allen. Masterson again found Loving, and again disarmed him, then yet again went seeking Allen.

While Masterson was seeking Allen, Loving entered the hardware to buy more ammunition. Allen shot and killed Loving from behind, shooting from a darkened area where Allen had hidden. Deputy Masterson and Town Marshal Lou Kreeger responded and arrested Allen, finding him hiding in the back of the store. Loving, upon seeing Masterson, stated, "Jim, I'm shot". Loving was treated for his wound, but died five days later. Allen was later acquitted due to jurors believing that had Loving located Allen he certainly would have killed him. The shootout became known as the Trinidad Gunfight.

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