Dave Curtin: Slain Leadville Marshall, Duggan, To Get Tombstone

Roundup: Talking About History

Martin "Mart" Duggan was a hard-drinking Indian fighter, saloon bouncer and legendary marshal of Leadville.

Yet since his murder on an early spring morning in 1888, Duggan has lain in an unmarked grave in Denver's Riverside Cemetery.

Not for much longer.

On Saturday night, at a benefit in Leadville's Tabor Opera House, a group of local history buffs raised $2,200 toward completing a headstone for Duggan.

"This guy is an unsung hero. He really transformed a depraved Leadville," said fundraising organizer Gail Lindley.

"He brought law to a lawless town. As a fallen officer, he deserves the honor and respect of a memorial stone."
Duggan was 39 when he was gunned down from behind. The murder was never solved.
Duggan, 5 feet 5 inches tall, was the tough battler who took over for Leadville's murdered marshal at the behest of silver baron and Leadville Mayor Horace Tabor.

Leadville had 30,000 residents and 150 saloons and dance halls, and the town was frequented by the likes of Frank and Jesse James, Tom Horn, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.

With quick fists and a quick gun, Duggan hunted down the worst of Leadville's ruffians. He boasted he had killed seven men.

"He was built like an ore wagon and tough as a boot," wrote historian Edward Blair. "He was one of the great Western lawmen."
Shot at close range behind the ear as he stepped from the Texas House saloon onto Harrison Avenue, Duggan died at 11 a.m. April 9, 1888 - 10 years to the day after taking over as marshal.

Saloon owner Bailey Youngson was arrested but acquitted.

Duggan's epitaph will be engraved on a 20-inch-tall Red Texas granite headstone donated by Denver-based Olinger Cemeteries and Mortuaries. It will read in part: "Leadville's Tough Little Irish Lawman."

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