Known as one of the most courteous and modest peace
officers who ever worked in the lawless town of
Tombstone, William "Billy" Breakenridge however, was not to be trifled with.
December 26, 1846 in Watertown, Wisconsin, he traveled to the Pike’s Peak mining
area when he was just 15. Three years later, in 1864, he joined Company B of the
Cavalry for service in the
where he fought in the Battle of Sand Creek, as
well as several other skirmishes.
Around 1876, he headed for
Territory, ending up in
Tombstone by 1880. There, he went to work for
Sheriff Johnny Behan. That same year, he was also appointed as a
U.S. Deputy Marshal,
a position he would hold until 1889. This designation gave him more authority
than what was allowed by Cochise County, helping him to become one of
Tombstone's most effective
William M. Breakenridge
Though he put several
the Boot Hill cemetery, Breakenridge used a gun only as a last resort. But, when
necessary, use it he would, in a fast and accurate manner. Before long, his
skills with a gun earned him a reputation as a lethal
even challenged him.
He was present in
Tombstone during the famous
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He was said to have been on friendly terms
faction, and of course, working under
Johnny Behan, is generally perceived to have sided with those
Earps. Many years later, when he wrote his memoirs, he would say that
was a desperate character.
would not challenge him, this would not be the case on March 26, 1882. The night
before, two men by the names of
Zwing Hunt and