The Rifleman
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Fulton's Fury
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

In this story, we explore the possibility that Will Fulton’s family hails from Dallas, Texas. In the original TV episode, “End of a Young Gun”, Will mentioned that his family was ran off of a farm by a man named Vernon Carlson. His parents were murdered and he and his brother, Hank, escaped to become outlaws. When Hank returned to the McCain ranch to retrieve Will and the stolen money, he mentioned the gang was going to Dallas. From this point, it can be easy to figure that perhaps they would intend on going back to Dallas for revenge against Carlson. A man such as Carlson might be very rich and trying to gain control of a vast area which included the Fulton farm.

At the end of the first part of this story, “The Battle Within a Young Gun”, Will was rescued from the Santa Fe prison by Lucas McCain after eight years of serving a ten year sentence. He was given a chance to help Lucas work the ranch while Mark was off to college in Enid, Oklahoma. Will was reunited with Ann Bard, daughter of a neighbor and close friend to Lucas, Sam Bard. They initially fell in love in the TV episode. Lucas and Will travel to Yuma, Arizona and meet Bat Masterson. Bat came up with the idea of putting on a sharp shooting exhibition which turns into a bigger idea to take the show around the country. After a second show in Santa Fe, New Mexico, they decide to move on to Dallas. This gives them the idea to help Will return to the place of his youth and possibly reclaim his legacy.

At this point, part two begins. “Fulton’s Foray” throws our heroes into a great deal of controversy as a land fraud is discovered centering around his family’s farm. A real life Dallas character is introduced to be a benefactor to Will. Sarah Cockrell was a very influential business woman and once owned close to one forth of the city of Dallas. Her real life experience lends itself very well to become part of the fictional story of the Fulton’s. Will’s parents went to work for her when they first came to Dallas. When their tragic murder occurred, Will and Hank disappeared and Sarah took over the farm in hopes they would return. The farm was crucial for water rights and Sarah leased the land to a large cotton company that purchased the surrounding land after Vernon Carlson was convicted of the murders. As the land fraud comes into play, Bat Masterson is asked to help solve the crime. Lucas and Bat become involved in a long term investigation that eventually entangles them in the cotton industry. This leads them to New York City and some interesting adventures along the way.

In the late 1880’s time period in which this story occurs, Bat Masterson was actually involved in a very famous gun fight at the White Elephant saloon in Fort Worth, Texas. His friendship with Luke Short went back to his Dodge City, Kansas days as a marshal. Luke is embroiled in a protection racquet with ex-Fort Worth marshal, Jim Courtright. Luke refused to pay and the gunfight eventually settled the matter. This and other true to life experiences are mixed into the fictional aspects to give real life to Masterson’s character. As well as oft times being a marshal and a gambler, he did spend time in the Fort Worth area and was involved in the cattle business, railroads, mining, and early on at buffalo hunting. He also served a brief time as an Army scout. This gives a rich history to draw from.
 
As a fictional character, Lucas McCain shared similar experiences as those of Bat Masterson. His life was full of adventure and conflict. At times he served as deputy and sheriff of North Fork. His Civil War past is largely a mystery in the TV series as are his ties to various characters from his early days in Oklahoma. He served as a scout for the Army and was well known for his proficiency with fire arms. It was natural for him to relate with Bat Masterson over target practice as well as the morality involved with carrying a weapon. Where the two do not relate is family. Lucas had his son, Mark, to raise and he became a devoted father and stay at home rancher. Bat did not stay in any one place for very long. He traveled to many western towns serving as a marshal or many times he worked in cattle drives and various other concerns. He usually worked alone and gambled at poker and faro often. But both men had a strong sense of justice and a desire to help the innocent or downtrodden.

The more I did research for this story, the more I realized that the history of Dallas, the cotton industry, Bat Masterson, and Sarah Cockrell all blended well with the fictional aspects I had chosen for Will Fulton. Further history revealed Bat’s ties to more adventure on the way to New York. Not all legend is true and when mixing with fiction the history may get twisted just a little, but I tried to remain as factual as possible. Sometimes history is hard to authenticate from this time period. Many devote a lifetime of study on the Old West and still must rely on legend for some explanations. And that is part of the fun, letting one’s imagination fill in those holes. In the day, the gunfighters and outlaws were a popular subject for fiction writers. Bat Masterson and his ilk were very much affected by this “Legend” status. One of the best known promoters of those legends was Buffalo Bill Cody. He naturally comes into play when Lucas and Bat hit the scene in New York. His show was a long time event at Madison Square Gardens with Annie Oakley as his centerpiece. Soon afterwards, the show began its well known tours of England and Europe. In his early days, Bat actually knew Cody and Wild Bill Hickok. So if he had actually traveled along the lines of this story, it would have been very natural for him to have brought these names into play. In addition, this time period brought forth the wide spread use of many new inventions. Modern life was just getting started. Transportation and food handling methods were changing the landscape. Many of the comforts we take for granted today were a big deal to realize at this time.

Lucas has plenty to say and do as the story progresses. There are many questions to answer as to how he would react or take part in these many incidents and investigations. His relationship with Aubrey Canton grows and romance is a factor for everyone. Finally, Mark comes into the picture and he makes his Pa proud. There are many revelations and a huge party to end the story as Will makes Ann his wife!

It has been a great joy to write this story and delve into the history of the Old West. The Rifleman is a great inspiration and provides so much to draw from in its many episodes. The “what if’s” are many as are the mysteries we are left to ponder. Lucas has the potential to explore in many directions now that Mark is growing up and giving his Pa time to make changes in his life.

Thank you for reading and sharing in this story. The McCain ranch is a grand place to celebrate our love for “The Rifleman” and the Old West. While it is true that I join another favorite character into this story in the form of Bat Masterson, I feel that he and Lucas could very well have been partners had they actually met. But I also realize that Lucas embodies a more down home and fatherly look at a real Western hero as a caring father. His character is not bound by history; rather it is cherished in our hearts.

Fulton's Fury — Spirit to Texas

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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