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Gunfighter Summaries - M

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John Middleton (1854?-1885?) - Born around 1854, Middleton arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico from Texas in the mid-1870s and went to work as a cowboy for John Tunstall. When Tunstall, along with Alexander McSween got into a feud with the Dolan-Murphy faction of Lincoln, New Mexico, Middleton obviously sided with Tunstall. After Tunstall was killed, Richard Brewer was appointed as town constable and put together a group known as "The Regulators, which included not only Middleton, but also Billy the Kid and other deputies. As the Lincoln County War erupted, Middleton utilized his excellent shooting skills to participate in many of the battles. On April 4, 1878, he was seriously wounded in the chest during a gunfight with Buckshot Roberts at Blazer's Mills. When the "war" was finally over, the Regulators split up. Where he went is in dispute. Some say that he remained in the area, dying of smallpox on November 18, 1882. Other accounts say he moved to Kansas, where he married and worked as a cowboy, dying in 1885. However, popular evidence shows that he wound up getting involved with his cousin Jim Reed and his wife Belle Starr, and getting in further trouble with the law before being found face down in the mud of the Poteau River close to the Arkansas border in May of 1885. (updated June 2013)


James "Jim" Moon (18??-1881) - Jim Moon was a frontier gambler and saloon owner in Ellsworth and Dodge City, Kansas before making his way to Denver, Colorado. During the Chinese riots in Denver in 1880, an angry mob began beating and lynching the Chinese. Moon stood outside a Chinese business with a gun in each hand and held off the mob alone. He would later state: "These Chinks do my laundry and I was there to see nobody bothered them." Though he stood up on the immigrants' behalf, he was a man with a violent temper and abuse manner. On June 16, 1881, he was killed in a gunfight outside his Ocean Oyster Saloon.






John O'Rourke, aka: Michael O' Rourke, Johnny Behind the Deuce - (1862-1882) - O'Rourke began his life as a gunman and gambler when he worked as a hotel porter. In 1878, at the age of 16, he turned up in Tucson, Arizona, and by 1880 he had earned a reputation as an expert card player. At the same time he was also suspected of stealing, most often from the many drunks he encountered in the gambling halls. However, few were willing to challenge the young man, as he had sharpened his shooting skills to the same degree as he had his card playing skills. In 1881, when he was caught by a miner stealing his pack, the miner challenged him and received a bullet between his eyes. Taken to jail in Tombstone, a miners' mob intended to lynch him until Wyatt Earp held them off. O'Rourke was then moved to the Tucson jail but soon escaped. The following year, when O'Rourke was gambling in Sulphur Springs Valley, he was accused of being a card cheat and a murderer. In the ultimate gunfight that occurred, Johnny Behind the Deuce was to slow that time, and was killed.


Sheriff Commodore Perry OwensCommodore Perry Owens (1852-1919) - Born in Tennessee on the anniversary of the great naval commander, Commodore Perry's victory over British naval forces in 1813, he was named for the naval officer, whom his mother admired. Later his family moved to Indiana, but he ran away fro home when he was just 13 years old and was soon working as a cowboy in Oklahoma and New Mexico. By 1881, Owens had moved on to Arizona where he homesteaded near Navajo Springs. In 1886, he was elected sheriff of Apache County and is credited with taming the lawless town of Holbrook. In September, 1887, while trying to subdue a one of the factions involved in the Pleasant Valley War, a gunfight ensued. Referred to as the Owens-Blevins Shootout took on several men and came out unscraped. However, rather than seeing Owens as a hero he was relieved of his commission. He moved on and was later in Seligman, Arizona where he ran a saloon. In 1902 he married and in 1919 he died at the age of 66. He is buried in Flagstaff, Arizona.



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