Tombstone, Arizona Territory

TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA TERRITORYTOMBSTONE, ARIZONA TERRITORY. As the story goes, Ed Schieffelin, while prospecting in southeast Arizona, was told that all he would be able to find would be his tombstone. What Schieffelin found was an area that ended up producing $30 million in silver. On September 3, 1877, he recorded his claim, jokingly naming it the Tombstone Mine.
Buildings started springing up overnight. But Tombstone was different. By the end of 1877, the heyday of the cattle towns was all but over. Texas Rangers were chasing all the bad guys out of Texas. And Pat Garrett was wrapping up things in New Mexico. So, Tombstone became the last hurrah for many a desperado. With a town of miners, claim jumpers, con artists, soiled doves, gunmen and gamblers, it wasn’t surprising that there seemed to be at least one killing a day. The Tombstone Epitaph reported these killings in a special column called “Death’s Doings”.
Wells Spicer in an early letter said that Tombstone had two dance halls, a dozen gambling places and more than 20 saloons. But, he wrote, “Still there is hope, for I know of two Bibles in town.”
Three years after Schieffelin filed his claim; Tombstone had about five hundred buildings, with more than a hundred selling hard liquor, and about half of those houses of ill repute.
Tombstone’s reputation even became a concern of President Chester Arthur. Tombstone survived disastrous fires in 1881 and 1882. But in 1886, when water flooded the mines, the population began to shrink. But, in the spirit of a town too tough to die, Tombstone, Arizona remains today the number one place that Old West enthusiasts want to go.

Clay Allison Dies

Clay Allison DiesJuly 26, 1887, The Globe Live Stock Journal, Dodge City, Kansas – Reporting on Clay Allison Dies: Clay Allison, a brave, true-hearted and oft-times dangerously reckless man, when in his cups, has at last died with his boots on, but not by the pistol route. He fell from his wagon in Texas, some days ago, the wheels of the same running over his neck and breaking it. The career of Clay Allison is perhaps unparalleled in the western country and should be written up by some one conversant with it.

All of our old timers knew Clay Allison. He knew no fear, was a good looking man. To incur his enmity was about equivalent to a death sentence. He contended always that he had never killed a man willingly; but that the necessity in every instance had been thrust upon him. He was expert with his revolver, and never failed to come out first best in a deadly encounter. Whether this brave, genteel border man was in truth a villain or a gentleman is a question that many who knew him never settled to their own satisfaction. Certain it is that many of his stern deeds were for the right as he understood the right to be.

By 1883, Allison had sold his ranch and moved to Pope’s Wells (a landmark along the Goodnight–Loving Trail), purchasing a ranch near the Pecos River crossing of the Texas-New Mexico line (50 miles northwest of Pecos, Texas). Clay and his wife, “Dora,” had two daughters: Patti Dora Allison (born on August 9, 1885; Cimarron, New Mexico), and Clay Pearl Allison (born February 10, 1888; Pecos, Texas—seven months after her father’s death).

In a special ceremony held on August 28, 1975, Clay Allison’s remains were re-interred at Pecos Park, just west of the Pecos Museum. His grave marker (which has the incorrect birth date of 1840), reads:

SEP 2 1840
JUL 3 1887

A second marker was later placed at the foot of the grave (see below); with the added phrase: “He never killed a man that did not need killing”.

Clay Allison Dies

John Tunstall and Billy the Kid

John Tunstall and Billy the KidJohn Tunstall was an Englishman who came to America with some capital to invest. He wandered over to New Mexico where he met a lawyer named Alexander McSween. McSween suggested that there were good business opportunities in Lincoln County. What he probably didn’t mention was that there was a bit of a rivalry, over government beef contracts, going on between a J. J. Dolan and John Riley, owners of a general store called “The House,” and local cattle ranchers. Thus begins the story of John Tunstall and Billy the Kid.
So Tunstall came to Lincoln. He bought himself a cattle ranch… which was bad enough. But then, he and McSween decided to open a general store in competition with The House.
Tunstall wasn’t familiar with the ways of the West. He was used to a more genteel country, where disputes were settled in court. In Lincoln County it was might makes right. And the law was controlled by his competition.
Unfortunately for Tunstall, his partnership with McSween brought him into the middle of the feud. The owners of The House brought legal action against McSween regarding a debt. Since Tunstall became McSween’s partner, the law was convinced that Tunstall’s debt was also McSween’s. So, on February 18, 1878, a posse, led by men loyal to The House, headed to McSween’s ranch to confiscate some horses. McSween went out to meet the posse, and was greeted with a bullet to the head.
Dolan and Riley of The House probably figured McSween’s death would stifle the opposition. And it very well could have, had it not been for McSween’s 19 year old friend named William Bonney who became a whirlwind from hell. Incidentally, for anyone who may not know it, William Bonney is better known as Billy the Kid.



Bert Murphy

Louis L'Amour

In five novels Louis L’Amour lets you experience Old California and the Pacific coast circa 1800 to 1880.  When the railroad reached California in 1869, it diminished the frontier period.  When it reached Los Angeles in 1876, the western frontier was essentially closed.  The cowards who never started and the weak that might have died on the way could now ride west on cushioned seats.

However, frontier pockets still remain. In my life, I have known many who have the frontier-pioneer spirit.  They are the few of the many, both men and women, who have the heart, nerve and sinew to push into the unknown of space or ideas.  They don’t particularly give a damn what their contemporaries think.  They are driven to see and know.  If they think of them at all, they scorn the historical revisionists who would deprive us of our heroes.  They joke about extreme environmentalists who are unreasoning obstructionists.  Yet they understand and protect the earth.  They love their country and despise these who are destroying it.  They support and defend our hard- won and kept Republic, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Those of the pioneer spirit drive on into the great unknown to make a better world.  Soon they will feel the snarl of the jets at their backs as they drive toward the frontier of space.  L’Amour recognized this final frontier.  There will be L’Amour novels tucked into cargo pockets of space suits.  There will be men like L’Amour, Service, London, Kipling, Grey, Clark, Asimov and Heinlein to tell their stories.  They will tell of courage, love, loyalty, survival and lonely death in the endless frontier of space.  The arenas will change.  Those frontiersmen and women of space will have the pioneer spirit L’Amour knew and wrote of.

The virtues and characteristics of pioneers and heroes will not change.  L’Amour’s main characters were people of stamina and intelligence.  They did not lie, steal or cheat.  They were independent and killed their own snakes.  They celebrate the free human spirit.

Many of the things that Louis L’Amour teaches in his writings are useful to any age.  Paleo hunters or spaceman must know that peripheral vision is the best to use at night.  Aim low at an uphill or downhill target.  Firearms are sighted horizontally above the target to allow for gravity drop.  Uphill or downhill the gravity vector is reduced or eliminated.  Weapons shoot high.  So, as L’Amour wrote, shoot low.  Read the signs around you. When did that horse go by-was he ridden?  The spaceship that landed-was it ours or theirs?  Carry a knife and fire maker-they will get you out of all kinds of trouble.  Know the place you are in.  Can you eat that plant?  Where is the water?  There is much field craft in L’Amour’s novels.

In Trailing Louis L’Amour in New Mexico, I quoted L’Amour as saying, “man is tracked in his mind.”  With his tenth-grade education, great intelligence, amazing memory, extensive travel, war experience and voluminous reading, L’Amour was as erudite a person as you will meet.  A reasonable estimate would be that he read seven thousand books and “dipped into” many more.  His amazing memory let him recall much of what he read and experienced.  He chose historical fiction as his genre, and he chose to be historically and geographically accurate.  He added much in the way of science to his novels.  He showed an extensive knowledge of the world’s odd corners, history, Indian lore, literature, field craft, botany, geology, geography, archeology, anthropology, psychology and other hard and soft sciences.  He wrote of and speculated on the paranormal.  Read Louis L’Amour for pleasure, knowledge or both. There is much to be gained.

A background and knowledge of the stage where the L’Amour novels play out adds to the enjoyment and understanding of his stories.  A knowledge of the land, people and forces that made California and the Pacific Coast what they were when L’Amour’s characters encountered them in the 1800’s will let you appreciate his marvelous research, accuracy and craft. You will enjoy his novels even more.

Read more about Louis L’Amour HERE.

Clay Allison – Old West Psychopath

Clay AllisonClay Allison can be truly called a psychopath. At the height of the Civil War when the Confederate Army was drafting into service anyone who could hold a rifle, Clay was released on a medical discharge because he was maniacal.     
Ending up in Cimarron, New Mexico in 1870 Clay and some other local citizens broke a man out of jail and lynched him in the local slaughterhouse. Not being satisfied, Clay grabbed a knife; cut the man’s head off; stuck it on a pole; and gave it to a local saloon owner to display in his establishment.          
In 1875 Clay became involved in another lynching. This time the man was hanged from a telegraph pole. Without butcher equipment around, Clay dallied the end of the lynch rope around his saddle horn and dragged the corpse around town.
A lot of Clay Allison’s strange actions could also be credited to his fondness for strong drink. It seems that when Clay was “under the influence” he was inclined to take off his clothes; jump on his horse; and Lady Godiva around town. Then he would invite everyone into the nearest saloon for a round of drinks… Such a party animal.
Although Clay shot more than his share of men… usually when the confrontation was decidedly to his advantage, and knifed at least one. He didn’t go down in a blaze of glory like most gun fighters.
Clay Allison moved to the Pecos, Texas area, took a wife, started a ranch, and, for the most part, settled down. On July 3, 1887 he went into town for supplies. While there he stopped at the local tavern, and imbibed a bit more than he should have, because on the way home Clay fell off the wagon. A wheel rolled over him and broke his neck. He was dead within an hour. 
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