Gunfights - Page 2
Gunfighters in the 1870's.
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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,
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
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
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,
About 9:00 a.m. on morning of October 5, 1892,
along with Bill Power and
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,
Grat, Power and Broadwell entering the C.M. Condon & Co. Bank, and
Bob and Emmett crossing the plaza to enter the First National Bank.
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,
George Cubine, and Charles Brown. Emmett
Dalton, the only outlaw
to survive, spent the next 15 years in prison.
El Paso Gunfight (1881)
- Sometimes referred to as the
in Five Seconds Gunfight" or the "Battle of Keating's Saloon," this
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
to sell. When
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 bodies of
Bill Power, Bob Dalton, Grattan Dalton and Dick
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At 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
Afterwards, Constable Krempkau went next
door to Keating's Saloon, one of the worst pestholes in El Paso,
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.
Frisco Shootout (1884) - On October, 1884 in Frisco, New
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
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.
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
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
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,
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
would soon be shot dead. However, they didn't know that Levy also was also an experienced
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
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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Outlaws & Gunslingers -
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The year was 1865. The nation's bloodiest conflict, the
Civil War , had
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this year forward for the next 35 years, the South and the North would
continue the war in the
Wild West .
Out of the devastated South rode the most famous of the
James and Youngers and the
Daltons . From the North rode the most
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Wild Bill Hickok,
Wyatt Earp and
All of these characters would clash in the hills of
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South Dakota and
would blaze into
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