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Old West Gunfights - Page 2

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Gunfighters in the 1870's

Gunfighters in the 1870's.

This image available for photographic  prints and downloads HERE!





"A simple genre-fiction validation is the hero's winning the high-noon gunfight and being embraced by the schoolmarm while the bad guy is carried off to Boot Hill."

-- John M. Ford




Blackwell, Oklahoma Gunfight (1896) - On December 4, 1896, a heavily armed posse of six men surrounded a shack near Bert Benjamin's ranch outside of Blackwell, Oklahoma. Intending on capturing a gang of bank robbers, Deputy Sheriff Alfred Lund called to the men inside the cabin: "Throw up your hands!" Instead, the outlaws inside answered with a burst of gunfire. At this, three of the posse immediately turned and ran. However, Lund and two other men stayed, returning fire and killing one of the men inside. When the dust settled, the posse had killed one of the robbers and wounded another. Lund initially thought he had "bagged" a much wanted outlaw by the name of "Dynamite" Dick Clifton who was wanted for bank robbery and had a $3,500 reward on his head. Instead, the dead man inside the cabin, who was missing a finger, just like Clifton, was a petty thief named Buck McGregg, aka: Dick Ainsley. The second wounded outlaw, Ben Cravens, was a rustler and murderer. The posse took him into custody, but he later escaped.


Cherokee Courtroom Shoot-out (1872) - In what is now Adair County, Oklahoma, a Cherokee Indian by the name of Zeke Proctor and a white settler named Jim Kesterson had long been feuding. When Proctor found Kesterson at the Hildbrand Mill on February 13, 1872, the two began to argue. When the pair went for their guns, Polly Beck Hildebrand threw herself between the two trying to stop the fight. However, Proctor's bullet sailed into her chest. Kesterson ran for his life as Proctor shot at him two more times, hitting nothing more than his coat-tail. In the meantime, Polly Hildebrand lay dead. Though Proctor claimed it was an accident, this did little to satisfy the Beck family, who were also Cherokee, and immediately wanted vengeance upon the man. Tensions built in Indian Territory as Proctor was brought into custody and the location of the trial was debated. Finally, Proctor's trial was scheduled for April 15th at the Cherokee schoolhouse in Whitmore, Oklahoma, where the Beck family was sure they would not get justice.


On the day of the trial, the makeshift courthouse was jammed with people, many of them, Proctor supporters armed to the teeth. Outside was another crowd, eager to hear the proceedings, among them a number of similarly armed Beck supporters. Shortly after the proceedings began, a federal posse arrived, led by Deputy U.S. Marshals J.G. Peavy and J.G. Owens, and included some of the toughest of the Beck family and their supporters.


As the posse began to push its way into the make-shift courthouse, all hell broke loose as shot after shot was fired. After the smoke had cleared, seven posse men were killed, including Deputy Owens. A number of others were injured. The following day, the worst of the Beck family's fears was realized, when the Zeke Proctor was acquitted.


Dalton Gang at Coffeyville, Kansas (1892) - Obviously over confident, the Dalton Gang planned what they believed to be one of the biggest bank heists ever, when they thought they could hold up two of them at a time in Coffeyville, Kansas. About 9:00 a.m. on morning of October 5, 1892, brothers Bob, Grat and Emmett Dalton, along with Bill Power and Dick Broadwell rode into Coffeyville to find the city's streets filled with people.


Tying their horses in an alley across from the banks, they dismounted and marched down the alley, three in front and two in the rear. The outlaws, disguised with false beards, divided into two groups, with Grat, Power and Broadwell entering the C.M. Condon & Co. Bank, and Bob and Emmett crossing the plaza to enter the First National Bank.


However, what they hadn't counted on, was disguise or no, one of them was recognized by a Coffeyville citizen who quickly sent out an alert. In no time, bullets began to punch through the windows of the banks as Coffeyville citizens fought back. Immediately, it turned out to be an all out gun battle between the town citizens and the outlaws. Less than fifteen minutes after the robbers had entered the banks, eight men were dead and three were wounded. Of the Dalton Gang, Bob and Grat Dalton, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell were killed. The local men that were killed were Marshal Charles Connelly, Lucius Baldwin, George Cubine, and Charles Brown. Emmett Dalton, the only outlaw to survive, spent the next 15 years in prison. More ...


El Paso Gunfight (1881) - Sometimes referred to as the "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" or the "Battle of Keating's Saloon," this gunfight occurred on April 14, 1881. The whole affair began when the Manning Brothers had stolen a herd of of about 30 head of cattle in Mexico and drove them into Texas to sell. When Texas Ranger Ed Fitch and two Mexican farmhands by the names of Sanchez and Juarique investigated, the two Mexican men where killed. This led to a Mexican posse of more than 75 men to cross into Texas seeking an investigation.

The Dalton Gang killed

The bodies of Bill Power, Bob Dalton, Grattan Dalton and Dick Broadwell.

This image available for photographic prints & downloads HERE!


El Paso, Texas, 1888At the request of the Mexican posse, Gus Krempkau, an El Paso constable, accompanied the posse to the ranch of Johnny Hale, a local ranch owner and known cattle rustler. There, they found the bodies of the two Mexican farmhands. The El Paso Court soon held an inquest into the deaths of the two men, with Krempkau acting as an interpreter.

Afterwards, Constable Krempkau went next door to Keating's Saloon, one of the worst pestholes in El Paso, Texas. There, a confrontation erupted between Krempkau and ex-City Marshal, George Campbell, who was a friend of John Hale's. Also in the saloon was Hale himself, who was unarmed, heavily intoxicated, and also upset with Krempkau, due to his involvement in the investigation. Suddenly, the drunken Hale, pulled one of Campbell's two pistols, shouting, "George, I've got you covered!" Hale then shot Krempkau, who fell wounded against the saloon door. 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. Stoudenmire then 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 Campbell saw Hale go down, he exited the saloon, waving 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 cleared, both George Campbell and Constable Kremkau lay dead.

In less than five seconds in a near comic opera gun battle, four men lay dead. The killers of the two Mexican farmhands were never caught.


Elfego BacaFrisco Shootout (1884) - On October, 1884 in Frisco, New Mexico, a cowboy named Charlie McCarty was celebrating the good life with a shooting spree inside a saloon in the Upper Frisco Plaza. When the saloon owner, Bill Milligan, requested Elfego Baca's assistance, Baca rounded up three local Hispanics, disarmed McCarty, kept his revolver, and arrested him. What Baca didn't know was that McCarty was a member of the John B. Slaughter ranch, a notoriously rowdy outfit. Frisco's judge was too intimidated to try the case so Baca, who was running for Socorro County Sheriff, considered taking McCarty to the Socorro County jail. In the meantime, he and his friends "imprisoned" McCarty in an adobe house belonging to Geronimo Armijo. In no time, word of a a "Frisco War” began to spread to the outlying ranches. The next day, some 80 cowboys surrounded the house and demanded McCarty's release.


When Baca refused, the cowboys began firing. For the next 33 hours, Baca survived by lying prone on the sunken dirt floor and returning fire from the crevices between the wooden slabs. When the dust cleared, the unwounded Elfego had killed four cowboys and wounded eight. Eventually Baca agreed to give himself up to the Justice of the Peace but refused to turn over his guns. He was tried for murder but acquitted after the door of Aemijo's house was entered as evidence. It had over 400 bullet holes in it. More ...


Harrison-Levy Shoot-out (1877) - On March 9, 1877, gamblers Jim Levy and Charlie Harrison argued over a game of cards in Shingle & Locke's Saloon in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the argument escalated, St. Louis gambler and gunfighter, Charlie Harrison, insulted Levy telling him that he hated Irishmen. Levy, who was of Jewish descent, but was from Ireland, quickly took offense and challenged Harrison to take it outside. Harrison, who was an experienced gunfighter, and those looking on, felt sure that Levy would soon be shot dead. However, they didn't know that Levy also was also an experienced gunfighter with excellent shooting skills. The pair continued their verbal dispute outside, moving in front of the Senate Saloon before finally stopping in front of Frenchy's on Eddy Street and squared off.


As the two pulled their six-guns, Harrison's shot went wild. Levy, on the other hand, took more careful aim and kit Harrison who fell to the ground. Though, severely wounded, Harrison was alive and taken to his room at the Dyer's Hotel. However, a week later, he died.


Levy, who is thought to have survived 16 gunfights, would come to the end of the line in Tucson, Arizona in 1882. Quarrelling once again over cards, this time with faro dealer, John Murphy, in the Fashion Saloon, the pair agreed to solve their differences the next day in a showdown. However, when Levy left the saloon the night before, on June 5, 1882, he was ambushed and killed by Murphy and two of his cohorts.



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