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Wayne Brazel (1876-1915?) - A stockman in New Mexico, Brazel allegedly killed Pat Garrett in 1908. Brazel was born in Greenwood City, Kansas in 1876 but the family soon moved to Brown County, Texas before making their way to Lincoln County, New Mexico in the early 1880s. At the age of 15, Brazel went to work as a cowboy on W.W. Cox's 100,000 acre ranch in San Augustine. Later, Brazel was running his own goat ranch on land owned by Pat Garrett, and the two got into a dispute when Garrett wanted to break the lease. Though the deal was not friendly, terms were finally agreed to and the pair were planning to close the deal in Las Cruces, New Mexico on February 29, 1908. However, as Garrett was traveling, Brazel caught up with him and words grew heated. In the end, Garrett was shot to death and Brazel confessed to the slaying, though many believed that the shooting was a conspiracy, involving two more people. Allegedly, Brazel took the "fall" for the murder because he was single. Brazel was later tried; however, he was acquitted of the crime. Later, Brazel moved to Lordsburg, New Mexico, where he married and fathered a son. However, when his wife died he sold out in 1913 and moved to Arizona. He later disappeared but was thought to have been killed by an outlaw in Bolivia about 1915.


Jack LangrisheJack Langrishe (18??-1895) - A native of New York, Jack (John) S. Langrishe, an actor, impresario, and production manager, had been operating different theatres for some 17 years before his arrival in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876. Married to a wife named Jenette, and preferring working in the Old West to the stages of New York's Broadway, the pair opened several theatres during their careers, including one in Denver, Colorado and another in Helena, Montana, before opening their Deadwood operation.  Over the years, the pair worked with several well-known names of the time including Fanny Price, Charlotte Cushman, Jim and Belle Gilbert, Augusta Chambers, Viola Porter, and more. Later, Langrishe would would be elected justice in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 1886, and managed the Wardner News in 1891. He died in Wardner, Idaho on December 12, 1895  More ...


Peter MaxwellPeter Maxwell (1848-1898) - The only son of New Mexico land baron, Lucien B. Maxwell and his wife, Ana de la Luz Maxwell, Pete was born in in Taos, New Mexico on April 27, 1848. In 1870, the elder Maxwell purchased the old Fort Sumner buildings and surrounding land for some $5,000 and the following year, he relocated his family from northeast New Mexico and refurbished the buildings into proper housing. The family lived in a large house, which was once the officers' quarters. Lucien Maxwell soon turned over his affairs to his son Peter and passed away a few years later. Following the Lincoln County War, Peter became friends with Billy the Kid and other members of the Regulators, who had fled to Fort Sumner, even hiring Charlie Bowdre and Doc Scurlock to work on his ranch as cowboys. However, their friendship began to deteriorate when Peter found out that Billy was having a relationship with his little sister, Paulita, and was allegedly the father of her unborn child. It was in Pete's home that Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881 and has been theorized that Pete himself betrayed the Kid in order to put a stop to the relationship between Billy and Paulita. Pete died at Fort Sumner on June 21, 1898.


Alexander McSweenAlexander McSween (1843?-1878) - A lawyer in Lincoln County, New Mexico, McSween, along with partner, John Tunstall, opened a rival store in Lincoln, vying for the business that had been controlled by the Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking.


Alarmed by McSween and Tunstall's plans, Murphy and Dolan attempted to put the pair out of business, harassing them legally, and when that did not work, Dolan tried to goad Tunstall into a gunfight. However, Tunstall refused to use violence himself, but soon recruited Billy the Kid, and a half dozen other tough cowboys to protect him and his investments. In February, 1878, Tunstall was killed by the rival faction, igniting the Lincoln County War.


On July 19, 1878, McSween and his supporters, including Billy the Kid, were besieged by their opponents in McSween's house. His home was set on fire and several people were shot dead as they came out of the house, including an unarmed Alexander McSween.




Joseph Smith (1805-1844) - The founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith was December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. Though the family moved ten times during his youth, Smith spent the majority of his childhood near near Palmyra, New York, in the heart of what was called the "burned-over district" for its frequent and fervent Protestant revivals. At the age of 14, he claimed to have had an intense spiritual revelation of God and Jesus Christ. At the age of 20, Smith claimed that an angel called Moroni had directed him to a collection of engraved golden tablets that had been buried in a hill near Palmyra. He said that a prophet named Mormon had produced the tablets over a thousand years ago and he was instructed to translate the history. In 1930, he completed the work and published the "Book of Mormon," which together with the Old and New Testaments and some of Smith's later revelations became the sacred scripture of Mormonism. Later that year he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York. In 1831, they moved their headquarters to Kirkland, Ohio, but there, they found persecution, especially due to spreading rumors of polygamy. In 1837, Smith moved the group to Missouri. But, they would find no peace in the Show me State," as within a year, all out "war" broke out with their fearful neighbors. Missouri's governor soon ordered all Mormons to leave the state, and when the Mormons refused, their stronghold in Far West, Missouri was surrounded, and Smith, fearing an imminent massacre, surrendered.

The Mormons then fled back eastward, founding the city of Nauvoo near Quincy, Illinois in 1839, where the community thrived. In 1844, Smith announced that he was running for the Presidency of the United States and this, coupled with the practice of polygamy within the church, prompted his arrest. He was charged with inciting a riot after he attempted to destroy a newspaper that exposed the Mormon's practice of polygamy and imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois. However, before he could be tried on these charges, a mob broke into his cell and brutally killed both him and his brother.

Polygamy was avidly endorsed by the both Smith and his religion, but was practiced in relative secrecy. Smith was always thought to have married more than 30 women, producing numerous children, the details of which were uncertain due to the secrecy surrounding his plural marriages. The Mormon Church acknowledged for the first time in October of 2014 that Smith had between 30 and 40 wives in a series of church-sanctioned essays. His first, and only "legitimate" wife, Emma Hale Smithbore him nine children.

When Smith was murdered in 1844, the Mormons were temporarily left without a leader, but continued to grow and by the next year, Nauvoo boasted some 10,000 inhabitants and church membership increased to nearly 35,000.

In 1846, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, moved the community westward, first to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and the next year to Utah's Salt Lake Valley, where young hoped the Mormons would at last find the freedom to worship and live as their faith decreed.


John TunstallJohn Henry Tunstall (1853-1878) - Born in England on March 6, 1853,  Tunstall emigrated to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1872, where he worked at the Turner, Beeton & Tunstall, a business in which his father was a partner. Four years later; however, Tunstall moved to the United States with thoughts of becoming a sheep rancher. He first investigated land in California but soon headed to New Mexico, where land was more affordable. He first arrived in Santa Fe, where he met a Lincoln County lawyer and cattle rancher named Alexander McSween. After talking to McSween, Tunstall was convinced that there were profits to be made in Lincoln County and soon began ranching there.


But, he also found that the area was monopolized by two men by the names of Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, who owned the only store in Lincoln County -- Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking. Murphy and Dolan, having influential ties with Santa Fe politicians, virtually controlled the trade of the county, a fact that neither Tunstall nor his friend, Alexander McSween, were happy with. The 24-year old Englishman and McSween soon set up a rival business called H.H. Tunstall & Company near the Murphy & Dolan Mercantile.

Alarmed by Tunstall's plans, Murphy & Dolan attempted to put the pair out of business, harassing them legally and when that did not work, Dolan tried goad Tunstall into a gunfight. However, Tunstall refused to use violence himself but soon recruited Billy the Kid, and a half dozen other tough cowboys to protect him and his investments.

In February, 1878, Dolan and Murphy obtained a court order to seize some of Tunstall's horses as payment for an outstanding debt. When Tunstall refused to surrender the horses, Lincoln County Sheriff, William Brady, formed a posse led by Deputy William Morton to seize them. After protesting the presence of the posse on his land, Tunstall was shot in the head on February 18, 1878. This incident started what became known as the Lincoln County War.

Billy the Kid was deeply affected by the murder, claiming that Tunstall was one of the only men that treated him like he was "free-born and white."  At Tunstall's funeral Billy swore: "I'll get every son-of-a-bitch who helped kill John if it's the last thing I do." Adding fuel to the fire, it was rumored that Tunstall had been murdered on the orders of James Dolan and Lawrence Murphy.


© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2015.



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