OLD WEST LEGENDS
Dallas Stoudenmire - Taming El
Dallas Stoudenmire was born in Aberfoil, Alabama on December 11, 1845, one of nine
children born to Lewis and Elizabeth Stoudenmire. In 1862, he joined the
Confederate Army serving in the 45th Alabama Infantry, during which he was
wounded a number of times and carried two bullets with him for the rest of his
When the war was over he moved on to Columbus,
1867, where he was said to have killed a number of men. Though definitely
dangerous, the 6’4” man was said to have been quite a gentleman around the
ladies, who found his handsome face and sharp dress quite attractive. However,
Dallas had an extremely bad temper, especially when intoxicated. Continuing to
hone his shooting skills, he became equally accurate with both hands and always
wore two guns. During these years he worked variously as a sheep farmer, a
carpenter, wheelwright and merchandiser.
Some time later Dallas joined
and in 1874 was serving as a second sergeant in J. R. Waller's company.
Afterwards, he lived briefly in the
Panhandle, in Mexico during the days of Maximillan, and served a short stint as
a marshal in Socorro,
While he was in Socorro, his brother-in-law, "Doc" Cummings, who lived in El
convinced him that he should come there and take up the marshal’s position. At
the time, El Paso had a reputation as a violent town and the city hoped to bring
in someone from the "outside” who had a reputation that was as "tough” as the
town. Stoudenmire fit the bill. In early April, 1881, Stoudenmire traveled to El
Paso and was hired almost immediately, starting his new position on April 11th.
He was the sixth town marshal in just eight months.
His first task was to get the
city jail keys from a deputy marshal who also just happened to be the town
drunk. When Stoudenmire approached the drunken deputy, Bill Johnson, to get the
keys, Johnson mumbled that he would go home and figure out which ones they were.
However, Stoudenmire became impatient, demanding the keys immediately. When
Johnson continued to delay, Dallas physically turned the man upside down, took
the keys, and threw him to the ground. Stoudenmire wasted no time living up to
his tough reputation, along with humiliating Johnson.
Just three days later he was
involved in one of the most famous
referred to as the "Four
Dead in Five Seconds"
On April 14th, while Constable Krempkau was in Keating’s
Saloon, one of
the worst pestholes in El Paso,
Texas, he got into an argument with ex-City Marshal,
George Campbell. Also
saloon was one
Campbell's friend’s, a man named John Hale. Hale, who was drunk and unarmed,
pulled one of
Campbell's two pistols, shouting, "George, I've got you covered!" Hale then shot Krempkau, who fell wounded against the
Realizing what he had done, Hale ran behind a post in front of the
saloon just as
Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire appeared with his pistols raised.
shot once but the bullet went wild, hitting an innocent Mexican bystander. When
Hale peeked out from behind the post, Stoudenmire fired again, hitting Hale
between his eyes and killing him instantly. In the meantime, when
Hale go down, he exited the
his gun and yelling, "Gentlemen, this is not my fight!" However, the wounded Krempkau disagreed and though down, fired at
Campbell, striking him in the wrist
and in the toe. At the same time, Stoudenmire whirled and also fired on
Campbell, pumping three bullets into his stomach. As
Campbell crashed to the
dusty street, he shouted, "You s.o.b., you have murdered me!" When the dust
George Campbell and Constable Kremkau lay dead. In less than five
seconds in a near comic opera gun battle, four men lay dead. This
was well publicized in newspapers in cities as far away as San Francisco and New
York City and made Stoudenmire a legend.
three more days later, on April 17th, violence would erupt again, when the
wealthy Manning brothers, who were friends of Hale and
Campbell, convinced a
drunken Bill Johnson to assassinate Stoudenmire. However, it took little
convincing on Johnson’s part as he was still suffering the humiliation he had
felt at Stoudenmire’s hands less than a week past. Johnson then hid behind a
large pillar of bricks with his shotgun and waited. A short time later, he heard
the voices of Stoudenmire and his brother-in-law, Stanley "Doc” Cummings. As he started
to take aim, the drunken fool fell down instead, accidentally firing two
harmless blasts into the air. The marshal wasted no time returning fire, sending
a number of bullets his way and leaving Johnson dead on the dusty street.
This, of course, further
enraged the Manning brothers who would eventually take their revenge. In the
meantime, Stoudenmire continued to take a hard line against the lawless city of
El Paso. Between the April shooting of Johnson and the next February, Dallas
killed another six men in shootouts during arrest situations. The city's violent
crime rate began to drop as Stoudenmire’s legend grew.
In February, 1882 Dallas
briefly returned to Columbus,
he married Isabella Sherrington. During his absence, on February 14th, James
Manning killed Stoudenmire's brother-in-law and good friend, Stanley "Doc"
Cummings. While Manning and Cummings were in the Coliseum
by Manning, the pair began to argue. The dispute escalated until gun smoke
filled the room. When the air cleared, Cummings had stumbled outside the
where he had fallen dead. Manning was arrested but, at his trial, it was
determined that he had acted in self defense.
With a jury filled with local
residents, many who were friends of the Mannings, Stoudenmire was enraged.
Unfortunately, the only man who had been able to control the marshal’s temper
was the now dead Cummings. The angry Stoudenmire also began to drink heavily and
often confronted those people that he felt were responsible for Manning’s
acquittal. It became so bad, that many people avoided coming into town or
fear of running into him. Though he had proved his effectiveness as a
his actions began to turn the locals away from him. He was also a newcomer in a
town where the Mannings had many friends.
City officials tried to control
Stoudenmire, his drinking, and his actions by passing a law making it illegal
for officers of the law to drink publicly and subject to a fine if caught.
However, it was Stoudenmire himself who collected the fines, so the law failed
and Stoudenmire continued to drink. In the meantime, his actions became more and
more confrontational and bizarre. Sometimes, he was known to use the St.
Clement’s Church bell for target practice as he patrolled the streets, was
suspected of spending unauthorized funds, and argued constantly with city
officials. His list of enemies grew, including El Paso Times editor,
George Washington Carrico, who alleged that the city's crime rate varied inversely
with the sobriety of its marshal.
By May 27, 1882, the town had
finally had enough and the council announced they were going to fire the
marshal. However, when Stoudenmire confronted them, drunk, and dared them to
take his guns or his job, they backed down. However, two days later a sober
Stoudenmire resigned. He then began to run the Globe Restaurant, which had
formerly belonged to his brother-in-law, Doc Cummings. In July, he also accepted
an appointment as a
U.S. Deputy Marshal.
This, however, did not stop him from using his gun to settle arguments and his
ongoing feud with the Manning brothers continued.
In fact, the feud ran so deep
that local residents prevailed upon Stoudenmire and the Mannings to sign a
"peace treaty” that was published in the El Paso Herald. But, Dallas
continued to make threats every time he was drinking.
On September 18, 1882,
Stoudenmire and the Manning brothers – Doc, Frank, and Jim, met again in one of
sign another "peace treaty.” However, Doc and Dallas soon began to argue about
the first peace treaty and before you know it, they both had pistols in their
hands. Doc fired first, shattering Stoudenmire's left arm and causing him to
drop his gun. A second bullet hit Stoudenmire’s shirt pocket that was filled
with papers. Though it didn’t break the skin, it knocked him backwards into the
and out on to the street. A two handed shooter, Dallas pulled his other gun and
shot Doc as he came through the door, hitting him in the arm. Jim Manning
followed and fired two shots, one going wild and the other hitting Stoudenmire
behind his left ear, killing him instantly. Though the former marshal was very
dead, an enraged Doc Manning proceeded to pistol-whip him with his own gun.
James and Doc Manning were
arrested but were acquitted when the ruling was found to be self-defense.
Stoudenmire’s funeral was held
at El Paso's Masonic Lodge #130 before his wife had his body shipped to
burial. He is buried in the Alleyton, Texas cemetery.
The Mannings continued to live
in El Paso, and soon their killing of Dallas Stoudenmire was all but forgotten.
During his life, Stoudenmire was
involved in more
than most of his better known counterparts, such as
Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson,
and John Selman.
He is credited with successfully taming one of the most violent town’s in the
of America, updated January, 2015.
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