JULY 2020

JULY   2020
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

TOMBSTONES Chapter Eleven

I know what Wyatt Earp was thinking when he found that confessed stage coach robber Luther King, had walked out of the Tombstone jail. After entrusting their prisoner to the Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan, Wyatt and the other members of the posse spent 2 weeks tracking King's accomplices across 100 miles of Arizona and New Mexico desert, all the way south to the border with old Mexico, at the head of Guadalupe Canyon. Wyatt came home dirty, exhausted and frustrated. And then to find the one prisoner he had caught, had been allowed to escape, Wyatt Earp was not just infuriated. He was desperate. Allow me to explain.
Absentee Territorial Governor John C. Fremont had named the amoral Johnny Behan (above) the new sheriff of Cochise County. Wyatt thought Johnny had promised the job of under sheriff for Tombstone to him, but instead Behan had pinned the badge on printer and editor of the Democrat leaning "Tombstone Nugget", Harry Jones Woods. And it was Woods who had allowed confessed armed robber Luther King to saunter out of jail, with help from Johnny Behan's business partner, John Dunbar.
Dunbar owned the Dexter Livery Stable, on Allen Street, between Fourth and Third Streets. That was his excuse to come to the jail to pay for and pick up Luther King's horse, which the cow boy was selling to pay for his lawyer. And while Harry Woods was out the front door with Dunbar finishing up the bill of sale, Luther walked out the back door, where he found a horse, saddled and waiting. Any secrets about who got a cut for aiding and abetting the botched robbery, rode off with Luther King. Johnny was a skilled enough politician to know there would be a public outrage at this display of arrogance and power by the Cochise County Cowboys. So he poured a little whiskey on the issue and stirred it up, producing a mud cloud.
The weak point for the Earps was John "Doc" Holliday (above). A few years earlier, Doc had lived in Los Vegas, New Mexico, where, a few doors down from Holliday's dentist office had been the jewelry shop owned by William "Bill" Leonard, one of the escaped Benson Stage robbers. Also, Doc had occasionally stopped by the Redfield Ranch, where Luther King had been caught. 
But most helpful for Johnny Behan, Doc's decision to join the posse had set off a loud, passionate and public argument with his common law Hungarian born wife, Mary Katherine "Big Nose Kate" Horony (above, right).  Doc (above, left) rode off with the Earps, but during the 2 weeks the posse was gone, Kate was clearly miserable. Johnny took to commiserating with her, even buying her a drink or two. Or Three, or ten. And during one of those alcohol fueled conversations, Johnny got Kate's drunken signature on a statement claiming Doc had been one of the Bensen stage robbers.Johnny Behan and Harry Woods wasted no time in arresting "Doc" Holliday as soon as he returned from the posse.
Doc Holliday's arrest certainly muddied the image of Luther King's miraculous escape from Johnny Behan's jail. Still, moments after the crime the Drew family had seen 4 men riding away. The one confirmed member of the gang, Luther King, had named his accomplices - Harry Head, "Bill" Leonard and Jim Crane.   Doc was seen in Charleston (above) an hour after the shooting of Bud Pierpont and Pete Roerig. But he was looking for Ike Clanton. The most logical explanation is that Doc heard rumors of the intended robbery, and was looking for Ike to identify the robbers before going to Virgil Earp. But such a story would imply that Ike Clanton could be expected to betray the Cow Boys.
Wyatt Earp had no doubts about Doc's innocence of the charge. He paid Doc's bail. And as soon as "Big Nose" Kate sobered up, she recanted her statement. All charges against Doc Holliday were dropped.  Only then could the Earps return to pursuing the criminals. One night in late May of 1881, Wyatt stepped away from his faro table in the Golden Eagle Brewery (above), and approached three men eating dinner in the Occidental hotel bar. Wyatt asked if he could buy the men a drink. And while their cocktails were being prepared, Wyatt sat and began to talk.
The three men were Ike Clanton (above), Frank McLaury, and...
..."Joe Hill" (above,) He was known as  "rancher" in Arizona and New Mexico. But  under his real name, Joseph Graves Olney, he was wanted for the deaths of 3 men in Texas - one them a deputy sheriff,  and at least one other man  in New Mexico.  The three Cow Boys were suspicious, but willing to listen when Wyatt suggested he had a plan for them to make $3,500.  Did they want to hear the details?  The Cow Boys said yes, there were willing to listen. Wyatt then mysteriously added that he would only continue if they first swore to keep their conversation secret, even if they decided to turn down the deal to be offered.  Reluctantly Clanton,  McLaury and Olney swore they would never tell anyone what Wyatt was about to say. Then Wyatt asked his captive audience to step out into the middle of Fifth Street, where they could speak without being overheard.
Once in the middle of the wide dark street, Wyatt elicited yet another promise that their conversation would remain secret, even if they rejected his offer. And only after Clanton, McLaury and "Hill" had sworn yet again, did Wyatt Earp (above) lay out his plan. As Wyatt later testified, "I told them I wanted the glory of capturing Leonard, Head, and Crane and if I could do it, it would help me make the race for Sheriff at the next election. I told them if they would...tell me where those men were hid, I would give them all the reward and would never let anyone know where I got the information."
The reward being offered by Wells Fargo for Bill Leonard, Harry "The Kid" Head and Jim Crane was $1,200 apiecce. It would have been higher, if the crooks had actually stolen the $26,000 silver shipment. But it was still high enough that it tempted the 3 Cow Boys to consider betraying their "friends".  
According to Wyatt, “Ike Clanton (above) said he would like to see them captured. He said that Leonard claimed a ranch that he claimed, and that if he could get him out of the way, he would have no opposition in regard to that ranch. Clanton said that Leonard, Head, and Crane would make a fight, that they would never be taken alive, and that I must find out if the reward would be paid for the capture of the robbers dead or alive."
The next morning Wyatt Earp dropped by the adobe Wells Fargo office on Fremont Street, and asked agent Marshall Williams the exact conditions on the rewards for the three accused murderers. Williams agreed to telegraph the company home office in San Francisco, for clarification.
By 1870 Wells Fargo had a virtual monopoly on all stage service connecting towns and villages with the Southern Pacific Railroad and its trunk lines - everything between Idaho and the Mexican border, and Nebraska and the California coast. Wells Fargo could extend or contract their 3,000 miles of routes at will, extort subsidies from states and cities to ensure service. 
Wells Fargo could afford to undercut their competition on valuable routes by gouging customers on established ones. Wells Fargo even earned a profit from their few competitors because they insured shipments on those carriers, such as the silver bars on the Tombstone to Benson stage. Wells Fargo agents, like William Sheriff in Tombstone, were unlicensed lawmen, with unlimited jurisdiction and without legal limitations.
Again, according to Wyatt, "The next day I met Ike Clanton and Joe Hill on Allen Street (above) in front of a little cigar store next to the Alhambra." He showed the telegram confirming the reward for all three Cow Boys was "dead or alive. " It was then agreed....they were to have all the $3,600 reward, outside of necessary expenses for horse hire in going after them." 
Frank McLaury (above) and Ike Clanton's plan to lure the fugitives back was for  Jose Olney to ride to New Mexico, where the 3 were  hiding. He would tell them that because water had been struck in the mines - which it had -  the mines were going to be shut down and a paymaster was bringing enough cash to pay off the miners.  He would be traveling on the Bisbee to Tombstone stage. According to Wyatt, they would meet "near Frank and Tom McLaury's ranch near Soldier's Holes....I would be on hand with a posse and capture them."
It seems clear Ike, Tom and Olney were  hopeful Wyatt's posse would simply murder Leonard, Head and Crane, thus preventing any revelations they might provide. In fact, Luther King had already been shot dead by the very men who had helped him to escape. Supposedly this was retribution for naming his accomplices. But it was also because the botched robbery had produced no income, but a lot of unwanted attention.  Ike, Frank and Joe's plan would at least provide $3,600 compensation for the Cochise County Cow Boys. In short their reaction to Wyatt's offer was exactly what the Earps had hoped it would be.
That the plan was generally known among both sides was shown when Joe Hill left his watch and $300 in cash with Federal Marshal Virgil Earp, as a guarantee of his return from New Mexico. But Joe's mission was a actually trap,  half of a vice that was now closing, squeezing the Cochise County Cow Boys right out of existence.
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Friday, March 09, 2018


I know what 31 year old John Harris Behan (above) was thinking that December of 1880, while listening to Wyatt Earp, the ex-under-sheriff for Tombstone, Pima County, Arizona. Johnny Behan, the current under sheriff for Tombstone, was thinking about Johnny Behan, because that was always what Johnny Behan was always thinking about. Wyatt had resigned as under-sheriff to protest the rigged November 1880 election for Pima County Sheriff, in which his friend and fellow Republican, Bob Paul, had come 46 votes short to Democrat Charles Shibell. But Wyatt's act of principle had allowed Shibell to appoint Johnny Behan to replace Wyatt.
Now, both Johnny and Wyatt wanted the lucrative positon of sheriff of the new Cochise County, set to come into existence in early 1881. So that December night, Wyatt offered to withdraw from the race. In exchange, Johnny would appoint Wyatt as his under-sheriff for the town of Tombstone (above), the job Wyatt had just given up. Johnny seemed agreeable, as he always did, and Wyatt left the meeting convinced they had a deal. But with Johnny (below, left), nothing was ever simple.
Johnny Behan's entire career was the monitarization of his sex life. When petite Victoria Behan (above, right)  filed for divorce in 1875,  she cited her husband's addiction to "houses of ill fame and prostitution" mentioning one prostitute in particular, "...Sada Mansfield...." But, as Wikapedia notes, Johnny's numerous liasons included "...the wives of friends and business partners." It raises the question of what kind of a man "counts coup" on his "friends". In October, 1879, the now single Behan opened a saloon in the central Arizona boom town of Tip Top. There were four other taverns in the town of 500, and Johnny's primary draw for customers was the "Courtesan" services offered by 19 year old Sada Mansfield.
Sada (above) or "Sadie" or "Sarah" invented so many stories about herself, it is difficult to pick the ones most likely to be accurate.  She probably ran away from her orthodox Jewish home at the age of 13, fleeing San Francisco in the company of well known madam, Hattie Wells. They arrived together in Prescott, Arizona sometime in 1874, where the young girl went to work in Well's Granite Street brothel. Being a prostitute gave her independence, which she exercised in 1879 by moving to Tip Top with Johnny Behan. By the time she was 20 years old she had borrowed the name of "Josphene Marcus" from an actress in a traveling theatrical troupe. Sadie admitted years later, "My blood demanded excitement, variety and change."
Johnny (above) and Josephine moved to Tombstone in September of 1880. Having served 2 terms as a Republican state legislater for Mohave County, Behan now took a job as bar manager in the Grand Hotel, a hang out for the 'cow boys', who were solidly Democrats. Sadie's talents cemented Johnny's friendships "aross the aisle". At the same time he cemented his Republican ties by investing his earnings from Tip Top in Tombstone's Dexter Livery Stable, owned by John Dunbar, whose family had close ties to the infamous Republican Presidental hopeful , Senator James Blain, "The Continental Liar from the state of Maine".  All of which made Johnny seem the obvious choice as Sheriff of the new Cochise County. Wyatt knew he needed a little publicity if he was going to secure the job as under-sheriff for Tombstone. The opportunity for that good press appeared on Tuesday, 15 March, 1881, when the 6:00pm northbound Tombstone to Benson stage coach was held up.
By about 7:30pm, the coach, carrying 7 passangers, a driver and a guard and a strongbox containing 6 bars of silver bullion worth $26,000 - over half a million dollars today - all pulled by 6 horses, was about a mile passed the cut off to the San Pedro River mill town of Contention City, and just 200 yards short of a hill top station run by the widow Georgina Drew and her 5 children - the half way mark between Tombstone and Benson. As the driver slowed to climb the rise a man appeared in the road, wearing a mask and wig. He waved a shotgun and ordered the coach to "Hold!".
The driver, Eli "Bud" Pierpott, seemed to refuse. Another of the would-be robbers fired from the brush beside the road, hitting Bud in the heart. He fell forward, falling onto the traces between "the wheelers" - the horses closest to the 48 inch wheels - and then under the coach. The gunshot, the loss of pressure on the reins, and the jerk on the load they were pulling, all panicked the horses, who bolted up the hill. The shot gun guard, sheriff candidate Bob Paul, let loose both barrels from his weapon. About 20 shots were fired from the brush as the stage lurched past, one of them hitting the back of a miner riding in the "dickie seat" above and behind the driver, a man named Peter Roerig.

The gunshots, and then the stage racing through the station, alerted Mrs. Drew and her children, who were waiting to change the horse team and sell the travelers a little food and drink for a dollar apiece. They found Bud Pierpott lying dead in the road, and saw 4 men riding off from the scene. A mile north (above)  Bob Paul managed to recapture the 6 reins, and pulled the winded horses to a stop before they capsized the coach. Pete Roerig was in a bad way, but none of the other passangers were injured. So Paul drove the horses and coach hard the remaining 14 miles to Benson, the Southern Pacific railroad and the telegraph. He got there not long before 10:00pm that night.
After seeing to poor Pete Roerig - he would die shortly after reaching Benson - and locking the silver bullion safely in the railroad companies' safe, Bob Paul (above) telegraphed the Deputy Federal Marshall in Tombstone, Virgil Earp.  
By midnight, perhaps the most impressive posse ever formed in the old west - Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp, gambler John "Doc" Hoiday, Wells Fargo agent Marshall Williams and Wyatt's friend and fellow lawman from Dodge City Kansas, Bat Masterson - were all provisioned, mounted and on the road to Drew station, 12 miles north.
Bob Paul was first to return to the scene of the crime. Near the hold up site, he found three masks, and tracks that led east. Now leading the Tombstone posse, Paul followed the trail to sprawling ranch run by Henry and Leonard "Lem" Redfield, where they cornered and captured the unhappy cow boy Luther King. He readily admitted to being involved, but insisted his only task had been holding the horses. But he also identified the other 3 highway men as Harry "The Kid" Head, one time jeweler William "Bill" Lenoard and Jim Crane.  King said that Crane had been wounded in the thigh, although by Paul's hasty shot gun blast or by his own six shooter, is unclear.
The capture of King presented a dilemma. The crime had been committed halfway between Tombstone and Benson. And while Deputy Federal Marshal Virgil Earp had authority throughout the territory, the trial of the killers of Pete Roerig and Bud Pierpott would do Wyatt (above) the most good if held in Tombstone.  So, come sun up on Thursday, 17 March, 1881, the 7 lawmen gave up their search for the other 3 members of the gang, and began escorting Luther King back toward Tombstone. 
It was a stroke of luck, then, when, they ran into Cochies Sheriff Johnny Behan and a deputy, riding north, in search of the gang.  Johnny took possession of Luther King - even insisted on it - freeing Paul, the Earps, Holiday and Marshall to return to the pursuit. They tracked Harry Head, Bill Leonard and Jim Crane for 2 weeks, south and east into the San Simon Valley (above, lower right) , into New Mexico, all the way to the northern mouth of Guadalupe Canyon, just above the Mexican border. Then, short of provisions, and with no funds to obtain more, they were forced to return to Tombstone.
To their surprise, they discovered that although under- sheriff Behan had locked Luther King securely in the Tombstone jail, the cow boy had managed to slip out the back door and disappear. And, poof! All the effort and expense of sweat, leather and horse flesh were for naught. Any hope Wyatt Earp had of becoming sheriff of Tombstone vanished along with Mr. King. Wyatt was going to have to think of something else.
According to the Tombstone Epitaph", it was not long after this, in April of 1881, that "Sadie" Marcus (above and  below) returned home early from a trip and found Johnny in their bed with the wife of a "friend". Who the friend was, is unstated, but that was Johnny's modus operendi. But the Epitath was clear that the 20 year old lady kicked Johnny out of their house, and became a truely independent operator. It must have been about this same time, the self posessed lady met Wyatt Earp.
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Thursday, March 08, 2018


I am pretty certain what 31 year old Town Marshal Frederick G. "Fred" White (above) was thinking, as he appoached the empty lot near the corner of Sixth and Allen Streets, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. It was just about 12:30 on the chilly night of Thursday, 28 October, 1880, and Fred had spent most of the evening chasing down and collecting guns from drunken cowboys. None of these intoxicated miscreants wanted to hurt anyone or anything. In the same way a solitary young bull charges about an open field, or adolesent stags butt heads, it is natural that humans, particularly young males, will occasionally want to blow off a little steam. But the difference between a chimpanze thrashing the underbrush with a branch, and a human, is that humans have invented gunpowder and guns and alcohol.
This was why Tombstone made it illegal to carry a gun in the city limits, except when entering or leaving town. As a man of average intelligence - which by all accounts Fred was - and being a friendly and compasionate fellow - as everyone knew him to be - Fred knew that guns plus people plus alchol plus time eventually equals somebody getting shot. As freelance journalist Clara Spalding Brown noted the same idea when writing about Tombstone and its environs - "When saloons are thronged all night with excited and armed men, bloodshed must needs ensue occasionally."
There were half dozen men in the vacant lot between Toughnut and Allen Streets. They were just "shooting at the moon", using their pistols as noisemakers. Fred approached the men quietly but firmly, as he always did. The drunk "Cow Boys" - Frank Patterson (of stolen mule fame), Ed Collins, James Johnson (who worked on the Clanton ranch with his brother Bill), Arthur Ames, Robert Loyd and Curley Bill Brocius - all knew Fred and liked him. And even knowing they faced a $10 fine, they all seemed willing to hand over their guns. Fred must have been certain this would be his last such encounter that night.
The first to surrender his gun was "Curly Bill" Brocius (above). Brocius was pretty drunk, and yanked the weapon out of his pocket. As Fred White grabbed the barrel, the gun went off. The crack shattered the Arizona night. Fred groaned, doubled over and fell. In an instant a new figure appearded out of the dark, and pistol whipped Brocius to the ground.
When the shooting party first started, Wyatt Earp (above) was one block to the east, beneath the tent canvas of Owen's Saloon (below, right), where he dealt faro. Republican friends had recently secured him an appointment as a deputy sheriff for the southern part of Pima County, making him a tax assessor and collector as well. That earned him 10% of everything he collected. But that was "maybe" income, and for Wyatt, dealing faro was a sure thing. 
Still, hearing the gunfire, Wyatt walked away from the table to investigate. He saw Fred White approaching the men, and sensing danger, Wyatt borrowed a pistol from fellow statecoach guard Fred Dodge, and walked down the street to back up the sheriff. When Ed White was shot, it was Wyatt who leapt to the wounded man's defence and disabled the shooter. The other cowboys scattered into the dark of a nearby wash and somebody started shooting at Wyatt. Almost immediatly Wyatt was joined on the street by Morgan Earp and Fred Dodge.
Fred Dodge recalled years later that, "When Morg and I reached him, Wyatt was squatted on his heels beside Curly Bill and Fred White. Curly Bill's friends were pot-shooting at him in the dark...." In his book "Under Cover for Wells Fargo", Dodge explained, "Wyatt said to me, "Put the fire out in Fred's clothes." When he looked, Dodge saw that Brocius' shot had been so close, the muzzel blast had set Marshal White's vest smoldering. Added Dodge in a letter, "Wyatt's voice was even and quiet as usual."
Once the shooting from the aroyo had slackened, volunteers carried Marshall White to the Fifth Street side of the Golden Eagle Brewery building (above), and up the stairs to the second floor office of Doctor H.M. Matthews, who was also the county coroner. At the same time Dodge and the Earps led Curley Bill off to the "lockup", a 10' X 12" windowless structure. All the way there, Billy Brocius kept asking, "What have I done?" The lawmen then proceeded to track down the others in the confrontation. Within hours all 6 of the drunks were safely in the lockup.
According to Dr. Matthews, the bullet from Brocius' gun entered Fred White's body "Four inches below and three inches to the left of the naval.... traveling downward...(and) pierced the small intestine..." Eighty years before the discovery of antibiotics, to all intents and purposes Fred White was dead the instant the bacteria inside his intestines were released into his abdomen. 
Opiats kept Fred White pain free for 2 days, giving him time to dictate a statement that the shooting had been accidental. He died on Sunday, 31 October, with his father and friends at his bedside. The gun belonging to Curley Bill Brocius was picked up in the street. It had only one round fired. Curley Bill had not even been responsible for the shooting that drew Marshall White to the confrontation.
In the morning, in the courthouse at Third and Toughnut Street (above), in front of Tucon's Judge Gray, Frank Patterson pleaded that he had been trying to quiet the shooting party. The others, who paid a $10 fine, each supported his story. Arthur Ames was fined an additonal $30 for carrying a concealed weapon. Brocius asked to have his case held over until he could get an attorney. And given the popularity of Ed White, the Earps thought it best to transport the cowboy to Tuscon to stand trial.
The first result of the shooting was that Deputy Federal Marshal Virgil Earp was asked to tempprorally fill the job as Town Marshall, until a special election could be held on Saturday, 13, November, 1880.  But with the bounty of economically business oportuinites available in Tombstone, the race eventually narrowed to either Earp or the 33 year old miner, Benjamin Sippy.  The financially challenged Sippy won the November ballot, 259 to 311 votes. Editor of the "Epitath", John Clum (above)  chose to be optimistic, suggesting Sippy "...should recieve the support and assistance of all good citizens."  In fact, Ben Sippy would prove to be brave, clear headed and determined, when he was on duty.  He spent his first months in office arresting speeders on the streets of Tombstone.
Later that November, William "Curley Bill" Brocius stood trial in Tuscon for Fred White's death, before Judge Neugass. Fred White's dying statement was read into the record and Wyatt Earp even testified he thought the gun had gone off "half cocked".  
Judge Neugass had little choice, and dismissed the charges. Curley Bill (above) walked out of court a free man.  Even though Wyatt's testimony had helped clear him of the murder charge, Brocius never forgave Wyatt Earp for the pistol whipping. It was yet another firm step on the road to the most iconic 30 seconds of violence in the history of the American west.
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