Burton Alvord - Lawman
Alvord was born in
Territory in 1866. The son of a justice of the peace, he often
traveled with his father. When he was just 15 years old he was
working as a stable hand at
where he witnessed the famous gunfight. Three years later, he also was
present when vigilantes lynched
John Heath, a convicted thief and murderer.
In 1886, at the
age of twenty, Alvord was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Cochise County
by the newly-elected Sheriff,
"Texas" John Slaughter. Within
no time, Alvord earned a reputation as an excellent tracker as he
brought in a number of cattle rustlers and other wanted fugitives.
For the next three
years, Alvord served with Slaughter in many a shoot-out with
rustlers, and gunmen of all kinds. However, Alvord’s sterling
reputation as an efficient
began to slip in 1889, when he began to drink heavily.
Alvord started to socialize with some of the criminal elements and was
known to get into frequent scuffles. As Slaughter began to
chastise his actions, Alvord soured on both the Sheriff and the law.
Burton Alvord served as a
lawman until he
his ways and turned outlaw
Alvord moved to
in the early 1890’s and became a town constable. Continuing to drink
heavily and cavort with known
he was soon asked for his resignation and he moved once again, this
time, to Pearce,
Arizona. There, he worked briefly as a deputy marshal for
in 1896, who was looking for a "tough nut" to make sure his growing mining camp didn't get out of hand. However, after just six
months, Bravin decided that there
was no longer a need for the toughened lawman
and Alvord moved on to Willcox. Little did Bravin know
that the two would meet again under far different circumstances.
Again he obtained work as a town constable but commanded very little respect as by this
time he had become a serious alcoholic. By the turn of the century, Alvord had given up on being a
lawman and joined with the many outlaws he had befriended over the years. Starting with cattle rustling, he later formed a gang with
Billy Stiles and began to commit armed robberies. After a
foiled attempt to rob a Fairbank train
and a run-in with tough lawman
Milton, Alvord was arrested and taken to the Cochise County Jail.
By that time, his former boss, George Bravin
was working as a lawman in Tombstone
and the two came face to face once again.
On April 7, 1900, as Bravin had some 25 prisoners housed
in his jail, Billy Stiles went to visit
Alvord and other gang members who were in the jail. He then held a gun
to Bravin demanding the release of
all of the prisoners and ended up shooting the lawman taking off two
of his toes. The prisoners, including Alvord, then escaped.
The gang continued their criminal ways
until both both Alvord and
Stiles were arrested in December, 1903. Again they were
incarcerated in the Tombstone
Jail and again they escaped. Shortly later, Alvord got the idea that they would fake
their deaths in order to get the law off their trail. The pair
either killed two Mexicans or unearthed them from recent graves and
sent them in sealed coffins to Tombstone.
Spreading the word that the coffins contained their own outlaw
bodies, the lawmen
were suspicious and opened the coffins. Finding the moldering
remains of the Mexicans, rather than the outlaws,
they went after them again.
Rangers, pursued the men into Mexico in February, 1904 and trapped them
near Naco. When Alvord and
Stiles went for their guns, the Rangers returned fire hitting Alvord twice in the
leg and Stiles in the arm. Though
was somehow able to get away, Alvord was captured and sent to the
Territorial Prison at Yuma, where he served two years for robbery. Released in 1906, he then traveled to Central America. He was last
seen in 1910 working as a canal employee in Panama.
of America, updated April, 2017.
The Cochise Train Robbery
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