Shaunissy's Saloon in Fort Griffin is where my cousin, Wyatt Earp first met his friend, Doc Holliday.
Though there is little left of the old fort, and even less of the settlement that formed below the bluff, Fort Griffin was one of the wildest places in all of the Old West. Built on the rolling hills between the West Fork of the Trinity River and Clear Fork of the Brazos River, the area was a dangerous place as settlers made their way into Texas, conflicting with the Plains Indians who had long called the area their exclusive hunting grounds. Though Forts Belknap, Phantom Hill and Camp Cooper had already been built in the 1840’s, they were not enough to protect new settlers. However, the Civil War interrupted any additional fort building until it was over. Then, afterwards, the government began to build forts once again, including Forts Griffin and Richardson.
Work began on Fort Griffin in 1867 when Lieutenant Colonel Samuel arrived with four companies of the Sixth Cavalry on July 31st. The outpost, which was first called Camp Wilson, was built upon a hill overlooking the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Later the name was changed to Fort Griffin in honor of the late Major General Charles Griffin, Commander of the Texas Army Department and who had originally made the plans for building the new fort. By the time it was finally complete, the fort would accommodate up to six companies of soldiers and included an administration building, a hospital, officers' quarters in eleven buildings, numerous barracks, a guardhouse, a bakery, a powder magazine, five storehouses, forage houses, four stables, a laundry, and a workshop.
Almost immediately after the fort was completed, a new settlement began at the bottom of the hill, first called "The Bottom,” "The Flat” or "Hidetown,” before it took on the name of the fort. In addition to the honest pioneers who settled the area for legitimate reasons of ranching, agriculture, and commerce, in flooded a number of ruffians and outlaws.
When more and more people continued to arrive, the Indian attacks increased across northern Texas, keeping the soldiers busy in what was called the Red River Campaign, the battles of which continued until 1874, when the Texas Army defeated the Kiowas and Comanches at Palo Duro Canyon.
In the meantime, the settlement below the hill was bustling with buffalo hunters, business men, cowboys, outlaws, gamblers, gunfighters, and "painted ladies,” quickly gaining a reputation for lawlessness.
Some of these many people would later become well-known in the annals of history, including Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, who first met in Fort Griffin. Also there were Big Nose Kate; famous lady gambler, Lottie Deno; lawman, Pat Garrett, and gunfighter, John Wesley Hardin. "Marshaling” the lawless town was outlaw/lawman John M. Larn as sheriff, and his deputy, John Selman who, in the mid 1870’s, were working both sides of the law by controlling the vigilantes and rustling cattle. John Larn; however, would be killed by those same vigilantes inside his own jail in Fort Griffin. Selman, on the other hand, quickly disappeared and almost two decades later would kill John Wesley Hardin. During these lawless times, the settlement was so decadent that it was labeled "Babylon on the Brazos".
Keep reading about Fort Griffin at: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/tx-fortgriffin.html
Old Fort Griffin Administrative Buidling
Old Sutler's Store at Fort Griffin