Wild Women Of The West: Miss Heiser And The Long Branch Saloon

In Dodge City, Kansas, the important men made their headquarters at the Long Branch Saloon.

January 08, 2019

Saloon girls.

In Dodge City, Kansas, the important men made their headquarters at the Long Branch Saloon, opening in 1883 by Charles Bassett, Ford County’s first Sheriff, and A. J. Peacock.  The Long Branch offered a high-toned sporting atmosphere, with only top-grade liquor served at the bar. Its customers included railroad men, cattle kings, buffalo hunters, and travelers.  The saloon took its name from the celebrated sporting resort on the Atlantic seaboard, since many of the men in Dodge came from the Eastern states. There was no “Miss Kitty” and no dancing in the original Long Branch. In 1876, there were nineteen placed licensed to sell liquor in Dodge. Other well-known saloons on Front Street were Beatty and Kelley’s Alhambra; A. B. Webster’s Alamo; Muellar and Straeter’s Old House Saloon; the Opera House Saloon; the Junction Saloon; and the Green Front.  Of course, all the dance halls and most of the hotels had bars, and no one in Dodge was more than one hundred yards from some place of liquid refreshment, open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. When a new saloon was opened or a new management took over, a magnificent free lunch was laid out and the men were expected to come to the joint to celebrate. As railroad service improved and Dodge became more prosperous, carload after carload of beer rolled in every summer.  In July 1879, a facetious note appeared in the Dodge City Times: “A young lady, Miss Ann Heiser, is stopping the city at present.  A great many gentlemen have called upon her and express themselves well pleased with her general appearance.  The early criticism we have heard made is that the length of her neck is a little out of proportion to that of her body. The ‘out of proportion’ is to enable the fellows to embrace the neck.  Ann Heiser is a delusion too many persons hug. It brings them to their beer.”

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