Many of you already know the story about her tragic end, but few have know of it from the viewpoint of her friend, fellow victim and survivor of her vicious murder.
Singer Dora Hand, whose stage name was Fannie Keenan, died from a bullet meant for Dodge City's Mayor, James Kelley. It was fired by James "Spike" Kenedy in the early morning of October 4, 1878. Dora was staying at the Mayor's house with her friend and fellow entertainer, Fannie Garrettson. Kenedy didn't know his intended target wasn't at home. Mayor Kelley was at Fort Dodge seeking medical treatment.
A posse soon wounded and captured Kenedy, but authorities later dismissed charges against him due to "lack of evidence."
Fannie Garrettson, friend and fellow entertainer, occupied the house Dora slept in the night she died. Soon after Dora's death, Garrettson wrote a letter which appeared in the St. Louis Journal on October 11. In addition to describing the incident in detail, she expressed her opinions of Dodge City. And these opinions weren't the type that would have been welcomed by the Visitors' Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce.
Garrettson said in her letter her room was at the front of the house and Hand occupied the room behind hers. The assailant fired four shots. Two were fired harmlessly into the air and two went through the door leading into Garrettson's room. A .45 caliber bullet glanced off the floor cutting the carpet in two places, striking the side of Garrettson's bed before ending up on the floor.
The assassin aimed the fatal bullet at Garrettson's bed, which was usually occupied by Mayor Kelley. By some miracle it missed Garrettson but penetrated her sheets and blanket. From there it went through the wall and struck Hand between her fifth and sixth ribs probably hitting her in the heart.
Garrettson claimed Hand didn't know what was happening to her. She didn't fully awaken after the bullet hit her. She didn't speak or cry out and closed her eyes like she was going to sleep. She did move her head once or twice on her pillow and gasped a few times. Garrettson believed she died happy "as her look was such."
Garrettson mentions a funeral and burial, but today nobody knows the whereabouts of Dora Hand's remains.
Garrettson's letter didn't have nice things to say about Dodge City, and she did some editorializing in giving the reason why Mayor Kelley was out of town claiming, "There is no very good doctor in town, and consequently people who have any means go to the post, as the doctor there is considered the best."
Early in her letter, Garrettson stated "Any one gets it but the one for whom it is intended, and particularly in this wretched city. This is now the third or fourth instance and still nothing is done." Garrettson was correct when she predicted the "fiend" who regarded no one's life would never pay for his crime.
At the end of her letter Fannie wrote, "Well, I want to leave here now, while my life is safe; I think I have had enough of Dodge City."