Women crossing the great plains of the American frontier during the Gold Rush didn’t have a pocket guide of dos and don’ts to help them through romantic encounters.  There was no manual to fall back on when in doubt about the pioneer, prospector, or cowboy that came calling.  The daring ladies who bravely ventured beyond the Mississippi had to learn about love without the benefit of a set of lessons to pass on.  Fortunately they didn’t leave generations to come in the same predicament.

If it is true that love must be lived in order to be understood, it is also true that it must be learned, in order to be truly lived. No one knew that better than Emma Walter, paramour of one of the Old West’s most famous lawmen, Bat Masterson.

Emma Walter Moulton, was a world reknown juggler and sometimes professional foot racer.  She was born in Roxborough, West Philadelphia, on July 10, 1858.  In 1872, Emma made the acquaintance of Edwin Winford Moulton, a twenty-five-year-old Minnesota native, and professional athlete who had made a name for himself as a foot racer.  He often appeared at state fairs where overconfident men would bet money on themselves that they could run faster and farther than Edwin.  While traveling through Pennsylvania in October 1872, in search of a worthy opponent to answer the call, he met Emma.  The two were married in January 1873.

The marriage lasted sixteen years and might have survived longer had Emma not met Bat Masterson in Denver, Colorado in 1889.  She was entertaining audiences with her juggling skills at the Palace Variety Theatre and Gambling Parlor when she first met the celebrated lawman.  He happened to be the manager of the parlor where she was performing.   

Bat Masterson was four years older than Emma.  Born Bartholomew Masterson in Canada in 1853, Bat had been employed in a number of professions prior to managing the Denver theatre.  He left home at the age of seventeen with his brother Ed and became a buffalo skinner in Kansas.  He worked as a grader for the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, a scout for the army, and a buffalo hunter.  Bat was an expert with a gun and on July 27, 1874, was the youngest of twenty-nine defenders at the Battle of Adobe Walls, a fight between buffalo hunters and the Plains Indians.

Emma and Bat were romantically entwined for more than thirty years.  She retired from the stage in 1892 and contented herself with being his wife.  Here are a few love lessons learned by Emma Walters:

  1. With so many women vying for the attention of the famous gunfighter you have to stand out.  And what better way to stand out than to have your name on a theatre marquee…as a juggler?
  2. Help him get what he wants.  Although Bat was famous as a lawman, Emma learned that he was most happy writing about sports, particularly boxing matches, and helped persuade him to make that his life’s work.
  3. Understand what goes along with fame.  Throughout their married life, Bat Masterson would be approached by dime novel readers, fans of the Old West, and fledgling gunfighters, Emma would have to learn to be patient while he engaged his fans and story writers.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go against the law to hold on to the man you love. Emma married Bat long before her divorce to her first husband was finalized.  You can’t let bigamy stand in the way of holding on to a man like Bat Masterson.    

For more tips on love and romance read Love Lessons from the Old West: Wisdom from Wild Women. Visit www.chrisenss.com for more information.