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.
Burton Alvord served as a
lawman until he
his ways and turned
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.
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
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
Milton, Alvord was arrested and taken to the Cochise County Jail.
By that time, his former boss, George Bravin
was working as a
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.