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This week in the Old West - Self defense: Might include shooting someone walking down the street

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Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012 5:00 am

In the Old West courts were very liberal when determining if a shooting was self defense or not. So, all killings weren’t brought before a judge and jury. Sometimes there was an out of court settlement.

Frank Hunt first appeared in the history books in 1880 when he was appointed deputy marshal for Caldwell, Kansas during its boom days.

During this same time a George W. Flatt was also in Caldwell. A lawman in the past, Flatt had given up the job to open a saloon.

Even though he was no longer a lawman, George Flatt still carried his pistols. And he had the reputation of being a person who wasn’t afraid to use them.

Sometimes a person opens a saloon, not because he wants to sell booze as much as his wanting to have access to it at cost. And George Flatt did enjoy his booze.

One evening in June of 1880 Flatt was inebriated. Frank Hunt was also at the saloon drinking. Not particularly close friends, Hunt and Flatt had a few words. Seeing things getting out of hand, a couple of Flatt’s friends talked Flatt into letting them take him home.

Walking down the street, a shot from the dark rang out and Flatt was instantly killed. Frank Hunt was seen running from the shadows. Interestingly, Frank was never charged.

Maybe it was because George Flatt’s friends were concerned that with the liberal position of the courts concerning self defense shootings, Hunt would be found innocent. Did they just forget about the shooting? You decide. Four months later on Oct. 11, 1880, while Frank Hunt was sitting at a window at the Red Light Saloon, a shot was fired through the window, mortally wounding him. No one was ever brought up on charges. But if they were to be, I’m sure it would be self defense.

For information on Dakota Livesay’s new book Living The Code visit website www.LivingTheCode.com.

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