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Jim Lathrop was a rancher who lived in the town of Leadville, Texas during the days of the American Frontier. He lived on his ranch with his daughter Marie and his son Bobby. His ranch soon was targeted by the Eastern Syndicate led by Blast Barrows who was driving ranchers off their property. Barrows too particular interest in Marie whom he wanted to marry. Marie resisted, and Barrows continued to pressure her father off his land, shooting her boyfriend and rancher Charlie. Jim and Marie rushed him to the local doctor Matthew Masters for medical treatment. When Barrows followed them he shot Charlie dead. Matthew refused to fight (not telling them that he swore to the governor of Texas years ago to give up his life of violence) making both Jim and Marie believe him a coward. Jim went out to face Blast Barrows alone and was shot, although he survived and was brought back to the ranch. They were soon terrorized by the Eastern Syndicate that night who were determined to burn the Lathrop ranch to the ground. Jim and Marie were rescued by the Black Rider (secretly Matthew Masters in disguise) who gunned down the Syndicate and killed Barrows in a draw[1].

As a ranch owner, Lathrop often stood at risk of losing his property by lawless types who sought to capitalize on removing ranchers from their properties and more often than not was saved by the Black Rider. Such as when Snake Bostwick threatened to remove Jim from his property[2]. Jim Lathrop was later disheartened when it appeared that the Black Rider had sided with outlaw Red John, unaware that Red John was posing as the hero. When the Black Rider cleared his name, Jim joined him and the other ranches in running out Grant Dumont and Sash Gale, the men who hired Red John to force a range war between the ranchers and nearby nesters[3]. Although not directly involved in the conflicts, Jim's ranch was also threatened to be taken over by the likes of would-be sheriff candidate Waller[4], and Buck Barstow[5] as well as having his horses stolen by Brush Bennet[6]. In each situation, the Black Rider was there to protect Jim's interests.

Over the next period of time, Jim had to defend his ranch from outlaws twice[7][8] and once by a tribe of Native Americans on the warpath[9]. Jim was later forced to watch in horror when Marie was taken hostage by the Fox who was later gunned down by the Black Rider[10]. Jim and Marie were later captured by the Native American warrior Wolf Claw who sought to start a war between his people and the citizens of Leadville, both were saved by the Black Rider[11].

Soon afterward, Doc Masters left Leadville to become a frontier doctor for a time. Jim's subsequent activities during his absence are unrecorded. However during that time he did not seem to realize that Masters and the Black Rider were the same man, even when both were absent at the same time. When both Masters and his alter-ego returned to Leadville, Jim was still running his ranch with his daughter Marie and son Bobby. With the return of the Black Rider also saw the return of regular dangers and threats to the Lathrop clan. When Hatchet Haines posed as the Black Rider, he demanded that Jim sell his ranch at a very low price. Fooled by the disguise, Jim refused to sell and was shot by the phony Black Rider who then kidnapped Marie and fled. Eventually the real Black Rider slew Haines, saved Marie and cleared his name. Jim eventually recovered from his injuries[12].

Much later, Jim and is daughter Marie assisted Matthew Masters treat a plague stricken Comanche tribe[13]. When a series of murders by the mysterious Black Gauntlet are committed, Jim Lathrop assisted the Black Rider in his investigation. They both uncovered that the Black Gauntlet was really Maynard Murrel, a criminal who was sentenced to hanging 10 years earlier that miraculously survived and sought revenge against the people who sentenced him to death[14]. Not long after this, Jim fell ill for a brief period, but was nursed back to health by Matthew Masters[15]. Not long after, Jim caught rustler Poison Polk trying to steal some of his cattle. Confronting the outlaw, Jim was blinded by a chemical dust thrown in eyes by Polk. Jim was rescued from almost falling off a cliff by the Black Rider who then took him to Matthew Masters for treatment. Masters bandaged Jim's eyes hoping that he would be able to see in a week. However, both Jim and Sheriff Yarby (also blinded by Polk) were kidnapped by the outlaw who sought to blind them permanently in order to prevent them from identifying him in court. The Black Rider came to their rescue and slew Polk and his gang. A week later, Jim's bandages were removed as his vision was fully healed[16].

Jim eventually became a witness in a trail against outlaw Curly Adams. In order to keep him silent, Adams gang kidnapped Marie, however she was rescued by Bobby and the Black Rider. Jim's testimony saw Adams face justice for his crimes[17]. Another criminal, this time Stinger Ray, tried to force Jim's compliance in a different way: Kidnapping both his children in a bid to force Jim to ally Ray to marry his daughter. Like in past instances where his children were kidnapped, the Black Rider came in to rescue them[18]. When the seemingly unkillable criminal known as the Spider and his gang threatened the town of Leadville, Jim was among the townsfolk who sided with the Black Rider to defend the town. Later when the Lobo gang threatened Leadville with a pack of trained wolves, the Lathrop ranch was under siege until the Black Rider came and rescued the Lathrop's from the wolves[19]. Not long after, Jim and his daughter Marie came to the aid of Dr. Matthew Masters helping him treat a tribe of Comanche's that were plagued with Cholera[20].

Jim later had some troubles with his land, first he sold a portion he thought useless to Nate Oland, who unknown to the locals, was buying up seemingly useless lands to round up all the area buffalo and illegally hunt them[21]. Later, Jim's and other ranchers became the target of crooked gambler Luke Halsey. Halsey had his men kill Lathrop's cattle, making the deaths seem like the works of a mountain lion. However these deaths continued even after the Black Rider slew the seeming culprit, threatening to ruin Jim's livelihood and his ability to raise his family. Desperate, and unaware of Halsey's involvement and unwilling to sell his land, Jim foolishly attempted to win money by playing a hand of poker against Luke, betting his entire ranch. However, just as Jim lost everything the Black Rider stormed in and revealed that Luke was cheating, revealing that he had cards up his sleeve and revealed the entire plot, saving Jim's ranch from being stolen out from under him[22].

Soon after Dr. Masters lost his medical license when Burt Wyatt, the star witness in a trial against Spur Cameron, died under mysterious circumstances forcing Sheriff Ben Yarby to let Cameron go. Cameron immediately attempted to rustle the cattle off Jim's land, but was wounded fighting with Jim's ranch hand. Spur then holed up in the Lathrop ranch house, taking the entire family. They were saved, not by the Black Rider, but his alter-ego. Masters refused to treat Spur unless he confessed to murdering Burt Wyatt. When Cameron did so, Masters treated him and managed to get ahold of his gun, ending the hostage situation[23].

Powers

None


Weaknesses

Jim Lathrop suffered from an unspecified form of Rheumatism.



Transportation

Jim had access to horses to ride.

Weapons

Jim carried a six shooter.

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