Is 1883’s Jim Courtright Based on a Real Person? Who Plays Him?

‘1883’ expands the universe of ‘Yellowstone‘ by detailing the life of the Dutton family members who laid the foundation of the Yellowstone Ranch. The Western drama created by Taylor Sheridan follows James Dutton and his family, who, accompanied by a group of immigrants and cowboys, travel through the Great Plains in search of land to call their home. The series deals with life in America in the aftermath of the Civil War and during the Westward Expansion. As a result, it features characters based on real people. However, is the dashing Marshal of Fort Worth Jim Courtright one of those characters? Let’s find out!

Is 1883’s Jim Courtright Based on a Real Person?

In the second episode of ‘1883,’ Shea (Sam Elliott), Thomas, James, and Josef head to Fort Worth to exact revenge on the men who ravaged their campsite and took innocent lives. The group requests Marshal Jim Courtright’s help. Courtright swiftly diffuses the situation and kills the culprits with help from Shea’s group. The character of Courtright is a fictionalized version based on a real person of the same name.

Image Credit: Tarrant County College NE, Heritage Room

Timothy Isaiah Courtright was born in 1848 in Sangamon County, Illinois. Not much is known about his early life other than that he enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A bit of journeyman for most of his life, Courtright eventually settled in Fort Worth, Texas, along with his wife in 1876. During his time in the city, Courtright earned the nickname of “Longhair Jim” and became known for his skills as a gunman. He served as the Sheriff of Fort Worth from 1876 to 1879.

In his later years, Courtright operated on both sides of the law and is reported to have partaken in extortion. On February 8, 1887, he was killed at the age of 39 in a gunfight with gambler Luke Short, who owned the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth. The saloon also appears in the television series and is the site of the gunfight led by Courtright.

Who Plays Jim Courtright in 1883?

The fictional version of Courtright in ‘1883’ shares the same gunslinging reputation as the real person. However, the character has some noticeable differences compared to the appearance of the real Courtright. Although Courtright’s style of wearing a hat is similar, the fictional version sports a goatee, whereas, in reality, Courtright sported his facial hair differently. Nonetheless, the changes to Courtright’s appearance allow the actor playing the character to leave his distinct impression as the noted gunslinger and Marshal of Fort Worth.

Essaying the role in the series is none other than the critically acclaimed actor Billy Bob Thornton. He is known for his performances in films such as ‘Bad Santa’ and ‘A Simple Plan.’ He has won the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for his work on the 1997 drama film ‘Sling Blade.’ Viewers will definitely recognize Thornton from his turn as the sharp lawyer Billy McBride from ‘Goliath.’ He is also known for his career as a singer-songwriter in the country-rock music genre.

Read More: Is 1883’s George Meade a Real Person?