March 2, 2012
The west was full of characters and many of them called Tombstone, Arizona home. Town was full of grifters, drifters, drunks, gamblers, cowboys, ranchers, ladies of the night, gunfighters, miners, entrepreneurs, card sharks, Mexicans, Indians, Chinks, money, horses, cattle, feuds, soldiers and Democrats. A natural hotbed for hostilities and life was cheap. Men killed each other at the slightest perception of being wronged.
There are still gunfighters wandering around town, of a commercial type. There are enactments of the battle at the OK corral every day. Another gunfight at Helldorado’s 5th St. encampment, perhaps others. Having visited here sometime in the 1960’s, the differences were noticeable. The whole town is now like a movie set. Instead of being surprised by a gunfight at the end of a dusty street, everything is fenced and regulated, you buy tickets to see the gunfights.
The gunfighters look like they belong on this street as part of the regular population.
The bars were full by afternoon and still might be a little wild.
Our bartender at the American Legion in town, told us the population is aging, not increasing, and town couldn’t survive without tourists. And, it is a fascinating place to visit despite the commercialism. Do go. There is much to see and do and great history here to enjoy,
Many people in this cemetery died violently. Seymour Dye was only 35 years old, taking in a load of hay with his friend Harry Curry, when they were ambushed by Indians, shot, then tied and dragged 150 feet by the Indian’s horse.
Yes, five men legally hanged. The gang leader, who didn’t participate in the robbery but was suspected of planning it, was dragged out of jail by an incensed mob of citizens from Bizbee, blindfolded and strung up on a telephone pole.
Violent, frontier justice. Four Bizbee citizens were killed during the robbery. This picture is from the museum. The coroner’s report said: “I find the victim died of emphysima (sic) caused by strangulation, self-inflicted or otherwise.”
Mrs. Stump died in childbirth when given an overdose of chloroform by her doctor. This cemetery has more violent and awful deaths among its 250 known dead than any cemetery but a military cemetery. At my last visit, the graves had rickety wooden markers in the bare ground. It has been improved immensely with stone mounds, and verifications of most of those buried here. Popular and fascinating, especially when you visit the museum at the old County Courthouse and get the facts behind some of these quarrels.
This is Frank Leslie who killed at least three of those in the cemetery. He got his violent death in the end.
The gallows now sits behind the courthouse in the exercise yard. It was built for the five men from Heith’s gang and a set bleachers was built on the street to watch the hangings as entertainment. Nellie Cashman, known as the Angel of the Camp for her many good works, gave solace to the condemned men in jail. One confided he knew he would die, but he objected to the indignity of being a spectacle. She quietly manged to get help and turned the bleachers into a pile of kindling the night before the hanging.
William Greene, a farmer who used water from a ditch quarreled with his neighbor Burton over the water. His little girls went swimming in the shallow waters during the hot summers. Burton let water out of the dam to increase the flow and the water made a deep hole in the ditch. When the girls went swimming, two of them drowned. Greene killed Burton, but was exonerated for his vengeance by the courts.
Deaths on the streets are now visible on the spot where they happened by plaques around town.
There are a number of horse-drawn wagons and stages of different types around town offering one of a kind rides.
We were particularly pleased to see an authentic Butterfield Stage, one of the most uncomfortable rides in the world. A humorous description from a more “comfortable” stage ride (in the museum), the rider claims he wouldn’t have lived through it if the stage hadn’t come to places where the passengers had to get out and walk. It was their only salvation, getting off the hard seats and moving about.
It isn’t often that you have a chance to get close and friendly with great percherons.
We didn’t get to see it all. We could have spent more time, so be prepared to stay a whole day when you visit or return for a second look. Fun town.
February 10, 2012
From our visit to Superstition Mountain Museum continued from yesterday, what is an old western movie set without a gallows? There is a real gallows still intact at the Tuolumne County Museum, in Sonora, California. Much wider than this one; had to have room for the dignitaries. Hangings were as much about politics as a press conference is today.
Wherever there were fortune seekers, there were those who sidestepped the hard work. I love museums that have “character stories” and this one has a number of them. The “hacksaw” bandit robbed stage coaches on the Apache Trail. He always robbed them at the a steep place where the horses found it hard going. Never caught, his cache of hold-up equipment, with his white hood with eye holes in it, was found over 50 years after his deeds.
Fortune seekers of all types arrived in Apache Junction. An Opera Singer by the name of Maria, insisted that Weaver’s Needle, (a spire we passed on our hike) was hollow and filled with gold. She filed a claim on Weaver’s Needle and had a rope ladder built to the top of it. No one knows what happened to her and she apparently abandoned her claim, but two families, Piper and Jones, believed it was hollow and a feud of several years, that resulted in the death of one person, quarreled over the Dutchman’s claim and the gold in the “hollow” needle. Years later, in 1956, a very fit wrestling coach climbed Maria’s rope ladder but could not get to the top. “No fat opera singer ever climbed that ladder,” he claimed. There are many stories of the fate of gold seekers in the Superstition Mountains at the site below:
I chuckled at the modern million dollar advertising campaign put up by Canadian Club. They hid a case of Canadian Club in the area and expected to have many seekers looking for it, while being publicized, of course. The problem was, a local found it in six hours the second day of the campaign and ruined their long term publicity stunt. He claimed he was mighty thirsty.
The place is worth a visit. I loved the painting of a stage rumbling over the Apache Trail. The rest of my pictures are outside.
Part of a once working stamp mill.
The assay office.
A barber shop.
And, our good Christian pioneers always had a church. (In this case, with the gallows nearby.)