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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.Old West History Made Easy

  • True or False?

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?

  • 1886
  • 1888
  • 1898

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 town.

  • True or False?

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 County Sheriff?

  • 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?

  • 4
  • 14
  • 24

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.

  • True or False?

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 Detective?

  • Jim Hart
  • Rex Reason
  • Tom Smith

9) How many men where convicted of murder?

  • 0
  • 2
  • 4

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.

  • True or False?


Hot Springs Gunfight

  1. True
  2. 1888
  3. True
  4. Bob Williams
  5. Klondike Saloon
  6. 14
  7. True
  8. Jim Hart
  9. 0
  10. True

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