Hot Springs Gunfight
The Hot Springs Gunfight, or Hot Springs Shootout on March 16, 1899,
was a gun battle between two separate law enforcement agencies that
occurred in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Despite being little known, it
resulted in more deaths than the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral.
What do you know about the Hot Springs Gunfight?
Try this Alan's Old West Trivia quiz. You'll find the answers at the
bottom of the page.
1) The spa town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, had a long history of
illegal gambling, which had developed into frequent violence by the late
19th century. From the 1870s, two factions fought one another for
control over the gambling inside the city of Hot Springs, which by that
time had a population of around 10,000. Those two families were the
Flynns and the Dorans. Those two factions were involved in numerous gun
battles in downtown Hot Springs during the course of that feud.
2) Frank Flynn challenged Alexander S. Doran to a duel not long after
Doran's arrival. That ended with Flynn being shot once in the chest, but
not fatally. There were numerous subsequent clashes between the two
factions, with several murders both suffered and inflicted by both
sides. Doran was killed in downtown Hot Springs, having killed ten men
since the struggle for control of Hot Springs began. Flynn remained in
business, and continued to favor using the city police department to
collect debts owed to him, or to force competition to leave town. When
was Doran killed?
3) Thomas C. Toler was the Hot Springs Chief of Police during this
period, having originally been hired in the early 1870s by the first
Garland County sheriff, William Little. By the mid-1890s, he had a
falling out with City Mayor W.W. Waters, leading Toler to support
William L. Gordon in the 1897 mayoral election. The Hot Springs Police
Department had acquired a reputation for enforcing the will of the
gambling factions, often assisting gambling establishments with
collecting unpaid debt, or forcing unwanted competition to leave the
4) Although from the outside it would appear that the County Sheriff
was siding with the Mayor to rid Hot Springs of gambling, in reality the
clash was ultimately over whether the county sheriff's office or the
city police department would control the illegal profits. Who was the
- Bob Williams
- Ralph Waite
- Steven Ambrose
5) On the morning of March 16th, 1899, a meeting of Independent Party
Members was held at the Hot Springs City Hall, to include Mayoral
candidate C.W. Fry. There were also several police officers present.
Toler was obviously now supporting Fry for the upcoming election. The
County Sheriff, stormed from his office and went downtown, and happened
to meet friend Dave Young, who worked occasionally as a deputy. The two
men entered a saloon, where they discussed the earlier meeting, at
around 1:30 pm. What was the saloon?
- Klondike Saloon
- Hot Springs Saloon
- Elton's Saloon
6) Hot Springs Police Sergeant Tom Goslee had a confrontation with
the County Sheriff. Shots had been fired during the exchange, but with
no one hurt. How many shots were fired?
7) Around 5:00 p.m., the County Sheriff and his men had a meeting
with the Hot Springs Police Department. When Police Chief Toler went
down, the shooting stopped. Toler, Tom Goslee, and Louis Hinkle lay
dead, and Johnny Williams lay dying. Bystander Alan Carter had been
wounded by a stray bullet, Ed Spear was hurt bad, and bleeding badly,
but would survive.
8) Hot Springs Detective responded to the shootout, having been
informed by citizens. Sheriff Williams had arrived by that time, finding
his son dying, and getting a full report of what had happened from his
brother Coffee. Seeing the detective, the Sheriff walked over to him and
said, "Here's another of those sons of bitches", then pointed
his pistol and shot him point blank in the face. Who was the Hot Springs
- Jim Hart
- Rex Reason
- Tom Smith
9) How many men where convicted of murder?
10) The tensions between the Hot Springs Police Department and the
Garland County Sheriffs Office were strong well into the early 20th
century over the affair. Although Frank Flynn was forced out of town
following the shootout by a "Citizens Commission" formed by
Mayor Gordon, illegal gambling did not go away, and corruption within
both law enforcement agencies remained.