A TIME MACHINE

Many of the reenactors I’ve talked to credit the 1950s and 60s television shows and movies with igniting their passion for the Old West and its characters. In the case of El Paso native Jerry Eastman, he had the added incentive of family lore which claimed they were related to Bat Masterson (William Bartholomew (Barclay) Masterson), famous lawman, gambler, and “dandy.” Now Jerry performs living history as Bat Masterson.

“My great grandmother, on my mother’s side, was raised on the Masterson ranch in the Weed/Sacramento area of New Mexico. Her name was Minnie Jane Elizabeth Masterson and my grandmother was born on the ranch, in 1893,” Jerry says. “Now, after researching and doing Bat for so long, it appears everyone with the name of Masterson is related to Bat,” he jokes, although his research points to possibly being a third cousin. “I do have a very close resemblance to Bat. Although I have not been able to prove we are related, I believe the thrill of the Old West was born into me.”

The actual Bat Masterson and Jerry Eastman's version—a demonstration of Jerry's attention to detail and historical authenticity. Do you see the family resemblance?

The actual Bat Masterson and Jerry Eastman’s version—a demonstration of Jerry’s attention to detail and historical authenticity. Do you see the family resemblance?

Jerry has been reenacting and doing living history since 1994. He began portraying Bat Masterson in 1996 when he joined the Old Dallas Gunfighters and Reenactment Society. He is currently a member of the Texas Western Legends and the Legends of the West. These organizations participate in historical and living history events.  As part of his research, Jerry south out Bat Masterson expert Robert K. DeArment, who has written numerous articles and two books on Mr. Masterson. “His books and phone conversations have been a great help,” Jerry says.

Jerry and his wife, Karen S. Eastman, portraying Bat and his wife Emma Waters. The photo was taken in 2007 at the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Jerry and his wife, Karen S. Eastman, portraying Bat and his wife Emma Waters. The photo was taken in 2007 at the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Portraying a famous historical figure through living history is an art and an obsession. Jerry has done extensive research into Bat Masterson’s life and times. From contacting experts on the subject to studying everything he can get his hands on to traveling to the places Bat Masterson spent time, Jerry has tried to ensure there is no part of the man’s life left untouched. This research informs and refines his living history performances.

A more casually dressed Bat Masterson is riding with a posse. He's left his signature cane, bestowed upon him by the citizens of Dodge City, and fancy clothes in town but he's still wearing that signature bowler.

A more casually dressed Bat Masterson is riding with a posse. He’s left his signature cane, bestowed upon him by the citizens of Dodge City, and fancy clothes in town but he’s still wearing that signature bowler.

Read about Jerry’s research and about Bat Masterson at his interesting and informative website: http://www.freewebs.com/wmbatmasterson/

Jerry says there is a fine line between reenacting in first person and living history. “When you portray a fictional person, you still have to know what is happening in that time period, who is president, what did the person read, if they had siblings, their mother’s and father’s birthdays,” Jerry says. “Doing a fictional person is easier in some ways, as you are making up your family and dates.”

Jerry sometimes portrays fictional characters, such as a cattle drover, but he feels living history is more demanding, especially when you are ambushed by other experts on your persona. This can happen, especially when you are portraying an actual person who is widely known. Despite the occasional challenges, Jerry says he prefers to do living history because he becomes that person. “It’s like stepping out of a time machine and into the 21st century.”

Jerry portraying a fictional 1800s cattle drover named Loco. He's riding one of the Fort Worth Herd's horses, Chapo. The herd performs historically accurate reenactments of cowboy life at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

Jerry portraying a fictional 1800s cattle drover named Loco. He’s riding one of the Fort Worth Herd’s horses, Chapo. The Ft. Worth Herd reenacts cattle drives twice daily at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

“I enjoy making it possible for others to talk with and touch a person who is real, as compared to being on a TV screen or in a movie,” Jerry says. “I enjoy the looks in the eyes of the children when they see a ‘real’ cowboy.”

Jerry portrayed a cattle drover during his 3-year employment with the Fort Worth Herd, a reenactment group that works for the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau. During the summers The Herd conducts a "Cow Camp" on weekends, teaching the public about cowboy life during cattle drives from South Texas to Kansas. In this photo from 2009, Jerry demonstrates use of a Mexican rope, called a reatta.

Jerry portrayed a cattle drover during his 3-year employment with the Fort Worth Herd, a reenactment group that works for the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau. During the summers The Herd conducts a “Cow Camp” on weekends, teaching the public about cowboy life during cattle drives from South Texas to Kansas. In this photo from 2009, Jerry demonstrates use of a Mexican rope, called a reatta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a famous ancestor? Someone to brag about or a skeleton in the closet? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the CHASM CREEK video and check on my first novel’s availability at my web page www.patriciagradycox.com Thank you!

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6 comments

  1. overnightstableshorse@yahoo.com · · Reply

    Cool Stuff ,Thanks for Sharing

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m so grateful that so many people are willing to work with me on this blog. Their contributions are what make it interesting!

      Like

  2. Interesting stuff.

    Like

    1. Thanks, Joe! I hope you’ll check out some of the previous blogs and come back again.

      Like

  3. How interesting. Nope, don’t know of any famous old west ancesters. I should as my family has lived in Texas for generations. Sadly so much of history is lost because we don’t ask the right questions when we have our older loved ones still with us. The reenactments look like so much fun. Please keep sharing.

    Like

    1. Hi – thank you for taking the time to comment and you request for me to keep sharing. I intend to! And I agree it is a shame so much history is lost. We know much about the past from letters written from wagon trains, from homesteaded farms, later from soldiers in the various wars. It seems that resource is also disappearing now that we have phones and e-mail and Facebook. It’s important that we record the memories of our older relatives – it’s a passion of mine. There are many books that guide you in writing your own life story which you can apply to others. Or contact the Association of Personal Historians for someone in your area who can help you. In the meantime, I’ll keep on with my own attempts to keep the past alive! Please come back for more!

      Like

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