“Law Shooters of Cowtown” was initially received by the Kline Agency on June 7, 1933. Subsequently, on August 18, it was presented to Orlin F. Tremaine at Street & Smith’s Cowboy Stories, only to be rejected a week later on August 25. V. I. Cooper, representing the Kline Agency, began to circulate it on September 7, 1933. The story was forwarded to Complete Stories and All West on February 3, 1934, but was sent back to Kline by April 20. This story is preserved as a Kline Agency carbon copy and an earlier draft, differing mainly in the naming of a character: “Jim Kirby” in the carbon is “Jim Blaine” in the draft. The Cross Plains Library holds an original draft of this narrative.

Howard’s agent, Kline received this and also “Knife, Bullet and Noose” on June 7, 1933. 

Story summarized - spoiler alert:

“LAW-SHOOTERS OF COWTOWN,” is a Western tale that unfolds in the raucous atmosphere of a frontier cowtown, filled with the sounds of cowboys, gunshots, and saloon clamor. The story centers on Grizzly Elkins, a buffalo hunter known for his bear-like size and strength.

The narrative begins in the Silver Boot saloon, where Elkins gets into a deadly altercation with Jim Kirby, a gambler and gunman. Elkins, reacting to Kirby’s refusal to return his change and insult, kills Kirby with his knife. The saloon erupts into chaos, and Elkins flees but is shot and captured by Buck Chisom, the marshal’s deputy.

Elkins regains consciousness in jail, injured but alive, and encounters a fellow inmate named Richards. Their conversation reveals a plot by Marshal Joel Rogers and Deputy Chisom to rob the town’s bank under the cover of a mob lynching Elkins for Kirby’s murder. The plan involves setting a distraction while the town is focused on the lynching, allowing them to rob the bank unnoticed.

Elkins and Richards fight in the cell, but the noise of the approaching lynch mob interrupts them. Elkins, using brute strength, breaks free from the jail with a metal bar and fights his way through the mob, escaping to the outskirts of town.

Remembering the bank robbery plot, Elkins decides to intervene. He finds Rogers and Chisom at the bank, attempting to blow the safe. In a confrontation, Elkins shoots and kills Rogers, but an explosion from the rigged safe knocks him and Chisom outside the bank. Elkins escapes on horseback, leaving the town behind.

The story concludes with Elkins reflecting on the events, deciding that life in the wild is preferable to the complexities and dangers of cowtown life. He rides off into the frontier, leaving the town to deal with the aftermath.

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