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29 May 2019

The Wild West and Its Inspired Coinage, Part 3 (Ben Thompson)

Young Numismatists Exchange | ZanzibarCoins

Well here's part three of the series! The next coin in the set features the image of Ben Thompson.

Ben Thompson... Thompson was a gunfighter and a gambler, a lawbreaker and a lawman. He had run-ins with the law, and later he became a town marshal who saw the crime rate in his town drop at a tremendous rate. He ran into Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and more, often ending up on the wrong side of their guns. He met Bat Masterson (he certainly manages to travel doesn't he? Even if I didn't mention it in the previous blog posts, Bat met and knew well every. single. person. that has been featured so far!), and John Wesley Hardin. He was given a custom made and custom engraved Stevens-Lord No. 36 target pistol by Buffalo Bill Cody. He killed a lot of people, and wounded lots of others, in various shootouts, bar fights, conflicts, and arguments. He was eventually murdered while at the Vaudeville Theater, being shot repeatedly by men in a nearby box, and then shot in the head by one of the people in his box. He was murdered at the age of forty. For the entirety of the Civil War, he served for the Confederates, enlisting in June of 1861, and then serving until the war was over. He was injured during the battle of Galveston, when the U.S.S. Harriet Lane was captured. After the war ended, he went to Mexico, and fought for Emperor Maximilian against the Mexican Revolutionaries. After fighting in Mexico, he returned home because he had received word that his wife was being abused by her brother, Jim Moore. He returned to Texas, and soon after returning, went and confronted Moore. During this confrontation, he severely injured Moore, and was then charged with attempted murder, and imprisoned, at the age of 25, for a two year sentence, although he eventually received a full pardon after only a little time in Huntsville Prison. In Abilene, he opened the Bulls Head Saloon, with friend and partner Phil Coe. The saloon was profitable, since so many cowboys streamed through the town on cattle drives that there was always someone in the saloon, either drinking or gambling. Their logo however, was rude, and it was painted on the side of the building, so the townspeople complained to the town marshal, who was none other than Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok told the two men to alter the logo. When they refused, Hickok changed it himself, which infuriated the two men. They tried to get John Wesley Hardin to kill Hickok, but he told them to do it themselves. Hickok killed Coe in a shootout, and Thompson fled town, instead of avenging his friend and partner, because he feared Hickok's draw and his skill with a gun. His younger brother, Billy, was trouble, and got Ben involved in a lot of the scrapes that he got himself in to. This included killing men to defend and save his brother, and breaking Billy out of jail repeatedly. Later, Ben met and befriended Bat Masterson, an ever-present character in these stories :), and saved Masterson from several soldiers, after Masterson had killed one of the corporals, in a dispute over a woman. Then he went to work for a railway as a hired gun, along with Masterson. Eventually he returned to Texas, and became the Marshal of Austin, although he resigned after he killed the owner of the Vaudeville Theater (makes the scene of his murder more interesting, doesn't it?), and was charged with murder. It was in Texas that he ran into rancher King Fisher, who was also murdered at the Vaudeville Theater, simply because he was in the same box as Thompson. I have tried to keep this one short, because I know that Wyatt Earp (in the next blog post, since it is so long) is a long one. :) Also, sorry about the delay in between parts two and three, I was in Mexico all the beginning of June so I was not able to post. :)


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