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Violence presages end of notorious red-light district

February
08
1887

On this day in 1887, "Longhair Jim" Courtright, former town marshall of Fort Worth, was killed in a gunfight with Luke Short. This was one of the most famous gunfights in western history--and, contrary to the movie legends, one of the few face-to-face shootouts. The duel was the first of two events that drew increased hostile attention to the hive of brothels and bars known as Hell's Half Acre. The second was the discovery of a murdered prostitute named Sally, two weeks later. Before these violent occurrences, even legitimate businesses had resisted reform of the Acre because of the money it brought in. But the deaths of Courtright and Sally brought renewed and ultimately successful cleanup efforts.

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