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Tombstone Historical Text - Page 2

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The Killing of Marshal Fred White:

October 28, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

"About 12:30 last night a series of pistol shots startled the late goers on the streets, and visions of funerals, etc., flitted through the brain of the Epitaph local, and the result proved that his surmises were correct. The result in a few words is as follows:

A lot of Texas cowboys, as they are called, began firing at the moon and stars on Allen street near Sixth. City Marshal White, who happened to be in the neighborhood, interfered to prevent violation of the city ordinance, and was ruthlessly shot by one of the number. Deputy Sheriff Earp, who is ever to the front when duty calls, arrived just in the nick of time.


Tombstone, Arizona, Allen Street, 1882

Tombstone, Arizona  in 1882.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!



Seeing the Marshal fall, he promptly knocked his assailant down with a six shooter and as promptly locked him up; and with the assistance of his brothers Virgil and Morgan went in pursuit of the others. That he found them, an inventory of the City Prison this mourning will testify. Marshal White was shot in the left groin, the ball passing nearly through, and being cut from the buttock by Dr. Matthews.  The wound is a serious, though not fatal one. Too much praise cannot be given to the Marshal for his gallant attempt to arrest the violators of the ordinance, nor to Deputy Sheriff Earp and his brothers for the energy displayed in bringing in the malefactors to arrest.  At last accounts, 3 p.m., Marshal White was sleeping, and strong hopes of his ultimate recovery were expected."

October 28, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

"Edward Collins, A. Ames, R. Loyd, Frank Patterson and James Johnson were brought before Judge Gray yesterday morning on charge of violating city ordinances. A. Ames plead guilty to carrying concealed weapons and discharging the same on public streets. He was fined $40, which he paid. Edward Collins, R.Loyd and James Johnson plead guilty to carrying concealed weapons, and were fined $10 each, which was paid. Frank Patterson was discharged, it being made apparent to his Honor that he had used every effort to prevent the disturbance by his companions."

October 29, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

"The party who shot Marshal White was brought before Judge Gray on a warrant charging him with assault to murder. The complaint was made by Deputy Sheriff Earp. The prisoner, in company with his counsel, Judge Haynes, of Tucson, and waiving examination, was committed to jail to await the next meeting of the Grand Jury. He gave the name William Brocius and claimed to hail from San Simon country. [A] Vigilance committee was organizing to hang the prisoner, [when] it was deemed best to take him at once to Tucson. Deputy Sheriff Earp, accompanied by George Collins, guarded for several miles out of town by Messrs. Virgil and Morgan Earp, and others.


October 31, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

"From Deputy Sheriff Earp we learn that the man who killed Marshal White is an old offender against the law. Within the past few years he stopped a stage in El Paso County, Texas, killing one man and dangerously wounding another. He was tried and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary, but managed to make his escape shortly after being incarcerated. The facts leaked out in this way: On the road to Tucson, Brocius asked Earp where he could get a good lawyer. Earp suggested that Hereford & Zabriske were considered a good firm. Brocius said that he didn't want Zabriskie, as he had prosecuted him once in Texas. Inquiry on the part of Earp developed the above state of facts."

November 13, 1880, Arizona Daily Star

"Our special election to fill the vacancy for City Marshal, caused by the death of Fred White, is over and has been hotly contested. Virgil Earp made a desperate fight, but his opponent, Ben Sippy, has beaten him by 52 majority. The 'Earp' family flopped for 'Paul' on election day, thinking that he was a dead winner, and went against 'little Charlie'" but they failed to connect. Their ingratitude to one who had always been their friend has been marked by his many friends in Tombstone, and retribution politically has already reached one. Honest Abe Lincoln was right. 'Never swap horses crossing a stream.' Yours, Hawkeye."

December 27, 1880, Arizona Daily Citizen

"Wyatt S. Earp, was called for the territory, testified: On the 27th of last October [I] was Deputy Sheriff; resided at Tombstone; saw defendant that night at the time Marshal White was shot; was present at the time the fatal shot fired; saw Mr. Johnson there at that time; my brother came up immediately after; this affair occurred back of a building in a vacant lot between Allen and Tough Nut streets; I was in Billy Owen’s saloon and heard three or four shots fired; upon hearing the first shot I ran out in the street and I saw the flash of a pistol up the street about a block from where I was; several shots were fired in quick succession; ran up as quick as I could, and when I got there I met my brother, Morgan Earp, and a man by the name of [Fred] Dodge; I asked my brother who it was that did the shooting; he said he didn’t know - some fellows who run behind that building; I asked him for his six shooter and he sent me to Dodge; after I got the pistol, I run around the building, and as I turned the corner I ran past this man Johnson, who was standing near the corner of the building; I ran between him and the corner of the building; but before I got there I heard White say: "I am an officer; give me your pistol;” and just as I was almost there I saw the defendant pull his pistol out of his scabbard and Marshal White grabbed hold of the barrel of it; the parties were not more than two feet apart facing each other; both had hold of the pistol, and just then I threw my arms around the defendant, to see if he had any other weapons, and looked over his shoulder, and White saw me and said: "Now, you G- d- d- of a bitch give up that pistol;” and he gave a quick jerk and the pistol went off; White had it in his hands, and when he fell to the ground, shot, the pistol dropped and I picked it up; as he fell, he said, "I am shot.” The defendant stood still from the time I first saw him until the pistol went off; when I took defendant in charge he said, "what have I done? I have not done anything to be arrested for.”  When the pistol exploded I knocked defendant down with my six-shooter; he did not get up until I stepped over and picked up the pistol, which had fallen out of White’s hands as he fell.  I then walked up to defendant, caught him by the collar and told him to get up.  I did not notice that he was drunk; if he was I did not notice it. When I turned the corner he was in the act of taking his pistol out of his scabbard. I examined the pistol afterwards and found only one cartridge discharged, five remaining. The pistol was a Colt’s 45 calibre."

December 7, 1880, Arizona Daily Star

"The rumor reaches us that the 'cow boy' friends of 'Curly' the 'cow boy,' who shot and killed Marshal White, at Tombstone, some time ago, say, in case he is tried and not acquitted they will come to Tucson in force and take him from the jail."

1881 - Wells Spicer, District Attorney, in a letter

"Tombstone has two dance halls, a dozen gambling places and more than 20 saloons. Still, there is hope, for I know of two Bibles in town."

January 17, 1881, Tombstone Epitaph

"Brutal Murder of an Upright Citizen at Charleston By a Desperado: Again, the bloody hand of a murderer has been raised against a peaceable citizen; again the law is scoffed at and Justice derided. Yesterday's sun rose bright and cheerful over our neighboring village of Charleston, mellowing the crisp night air with its rays. Once more her toilers began their daily avocations with renewed energy, little dreaming of the damnable deed that, in the glowing light of noonday, was to await one of their number.


Sometime since the cabin of Mr. W.P. Schneider, chief engineer of the Corbin Mill, was entered and robbed of several articles including some clothing. Circumstances pointed very strongly to two parties, one of whom is so well known by the cognomen of "Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce" that we were unable last night to obtain his real name, but direct proof not being sufficient, no arrest was made. Yesterday at noon Mr. Schneider left his duties and went to a restaurant where he was accustomed to taking his meals, and on entering approached the stove and, noticing a friend standing by, entered into conversation. Having just left the heated engine room the air without felt cool which brought from Mr. S. a remark to that effect. "Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce" who was also in the room,. Then said, "I thought you never got cold." Not desiring to have anything to do with one of his character, Mr. Schneider turned and said, "I was not talking to you, sir." This raised the lurking devil in the diminutive heart of "J-B-the-D," who blurted out, "G-d d-n you I'll shoot you when you come out," and left the room. After eating his dinner Mr. Schneider passed out the door, and was proceeding to the mill, when, true to his promise, the lurking fiend, who had secreted himself with hell in his heart and death in his mind, drew deadly aim and dropped his victim dead in his tracks.

Immediately after the shooting the following telegrams were sent to Mr. Richard Gird, the superintendent, who was in the mine here at the time:

Charleston, Jan. 14, 1:30 p.m.

To Richard Gird: Schneider has just been killed by a gambler; no provocation. Cowboys are preparing to take him out of custody. We need fifty well armed men.


Charleston, Jan. 14, 1:35 p.m.

To Richard Gird: Prisoner has just gone to Tombstone. Try and head him off and bring him back.

Charleston, Jan. 14, 1:50 p.m.


To Richard Gird: Burnett has telegraphed to the officers who have the murderer in charge to bring him back to appear at inquest. See that he is brought back.


Considerable delay occurred in getting these dispatches to Mr. Gird, who at the time was in the mine, and just where was not known; but as soon as he received it, prompt action was taken, and a number of the miners were ordered to report to the officers, to resist any attempted rescue of the prisoner. Owing to some delay in delivery at the office of the company, and during this time the murderer was flying over the road toward the city, reaching the corner of Fifth and Allen a few minutes after the dispatches had beer read. It is asserted that the officers, fearing pursuit, sent the murderer, who was on horseback, on ahead. However, this may be, it is certain that he came in ahead, his horse reeking with sweat, and, dismounting in front of Vogan's saloon asked for protection, acknowledging that he had killed his man. In a few minutes Allen street was jammed with an excited crowd, rapidly augmented by scores from all directions. By this time Marshal Sippy, realizing the situation at once, in the light of the repeated murders that have been committed and the ultimate liberty of the offenders, had attempt on the part of the crowd to lynch the prisoner; but feeling that no guard would be strong enough to resist a justly enraged public long, procured a light wagon in which the prisoner was placed, guarded by himself, Virgil Earp and Deputy Sheriff Behan, assisted by a strong posse will armed. Moved down the street, closely followed by the throng, a halt was made and rifles leveled on the advancing citizens, several of whom were armed with rifles and shotguns. At this juncture, a well know individual with more avoirdupois than brains, called to the officers to turn loose and fire in the crowd. But Marshal Sippy's sound judgment prevented any such outbreak as would have been the certain result, and cool as an iceberg he held the crowd in check. No one who was a witness of yesterday's proceedings can doubt that but for his presence, blood would have flown freely. The posse following would not have been considered; but, bowing to the majesty of the law, the crowd subsided and the wagon proceeded on its way to Benson with the prisoner, who by daylight this morning was lodged in the Tucson jail."


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