Tombstone – Newspaper, Letters, & Book Excerpts

The Killing of Marshal Fred White:

October 28, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

Allen Street, Tombstone, Arizona, 1882

Allen Street, Tombstone, Arizona, 1882

“About 12:30 last night a series of pistol shots startled the late goers on the streets, and visions of funerals, etc., flitted through the brain of the Epitaph local, and the result proved that his surmises were correct. The result in a few words is as follows:

A lot of Texas cowboys, as they are called, began firing at the moon and stars on Allen street near Sixth. City Marshal White, who happened to be in the neighborhood, interfered to prevent violation of the city ordinance, and was ruthlessly shot by one of the number. Deputy Sheriff Earp, who is ever to the front when duty calls, arrived just in the nick of time.

Seeing the Marshal fall, he promptly knocked his assailant down with a six shooter and as promptly locked him up; and with the assistance of his brothers Virgil and Morgan went in pursuit of the others. That he found them, an inventory of the City Prison this mourning will testify. Marshal White was shot in the left groin, the ball passing nearly through, and being cut from the buttock by Dr. Matthews.  The wound is a serious, though not fatal one. Too much praise cannot be given to the Marshal for his gallant attempt to arrest the violators of the ordinance, nor to Deputy Sheriff Earp and his brothers for the energy displayed in bringing in the malefactors to arrest.  At last accounts, 3 p.m., Marshal White was sleeping, and strong hopes of his ultimate recovery were expected.”

October 28, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

“Edward Collins, A. Ames, R. Loyd, Frank Patterson and James Johnson were brought before Judge Gray yesterday morning on charge of violating city ordinances. A. Ames plead guilty to carrying concealed weapons and discharging the same on public streets. He was fined $40, which he paid. Edward Collins, R.Loyd and James Johnson plead guilty to carrying concealed weapons, and were fined $10 each, which was paid. Frank Patterson was discharged, it being made apparent to his Honor that he had used every effort to prevent the disturbance by his companions.”

Curly Bill Brocius

Curly Bill Brocius

October 29, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

“The party who shot Marshal White was brought before Judge Gray on a warrant charging him with assault to murder. The complaint was made by Deputy Sheriff Earp. The prisoner, in company with his counsel, Judge Haynes, of Tucson, and waiving examination, was committed to jail to await the next meeting of the Grand Jury. He gave the name William Brocius and claimed to hail from San Simon country. [A] Vigilance committee was organizing to hang the prisoner, [when] it was deemed best to take him at once to Tucson. Deputy Sheriff Earp, accompanied by George Collins, guarded for several miles out of town by Messrs. Virgil and Morgan Earp, and others.

October 31, 1880, Tombstone Epitaph

“From Deputy Sheriff Earp we learn that the man who killed Marshal White is an old offender against the law. Within the past few years he stopped a stage in El Paso County, Texas, killing one man and dangerously wounding another. He was tried and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary, but managed to make his escape shortly after being incarcerated. The facts leaked out in this way: On the road to Tucson,Brocius asked Earp where he could get a good lawyer. Earp suggested that Hereford & Zabriske were considered a good firm. Brocius said that he didn’t want Zabriskie, as he had prosecuted him once in Texas. Inquiry on the part of Earp developed the above state of facts.”

November 13, 1880, Arizona Daily Star

“Our special election to fill the vacancy for City Marshal, caused by the death of Fred White, is over and has been hotly contested. Virgil Earp made a desperate fight, but his opponent, Ben Sippy, has beaten him by 52 majority. The ‘Earp‘ family flopped for ‘Paul’ on election day, thinking that he was a dead winner, and went against ‘little Charlie'” but they failed to connect. Their ingratitude to one who had always been their friend has been marked by his many friends in Tombstone, and retribution politically has already reached one. Honest Abe Lincoln was right. ‘Never swap horses crossing a stream.’ Yours, Hawkeye.”

December 27, 1880, Arizona Daily Citizen

Wyatt S. Earp, was called for the territory, testified:

On the 27th of last October [I] was Deputy Sheriff; resided at Tombstone; saw defendant that night at the time Marshal White was shot; was present at the time the fatal shot fired; saw Mr. Johnson there at that time; my brother came up immediately after; this affair occurred back of a building in a vacant lot between Allen and Tough Nut streets; I was in Billy Owen’s saloon and heard three or four shots fired; upon hearing the first shot I ran out in the street and I saw the flash of a pistol up the street about a block from where I was; several shots were fired in quick succession; ran up as quick as I could, and when I got there I met my brother, Morgan Earp, and a man by the name of [Fred] Dodge; I asked my brother who it was that did the shooting; he said he didn’t know – some fellows who run behind that building; I asked him for his six shooter and he sent me to Dodge; after I got the pistol, I run around the building, and as I turned the corner I ran past this man Johnson, who was standing near the corner of the building; I ran between him and the corner of the building; but before I got there I heard White say: “I am an officer; give me your pistol;” and just as I was almost there I saw the defendant pull his pistol out of his scabbard and Marshal White grabbed hold of the barrel of it; the parties were not more than two feet apart facing each other; both had hold of the pistol, and just then I threw my arms around the defendant, to see if he had any other weapons, and looked over his shoulder, and White saw me and said: “Now, you G- d- d- of a bitch give up that pistol;” and he gave a quick jerk and the pistol went off; White had it in his hands, and when he fell to the ground, shot, the pistol dropped and I picked it up; as he fell, he said, “I am shot.” The defendant stood still from the time I first saw him until the pistol went off; when I took defendant in charge he said, “what have I done? I have not done anything to be arrested for.”

When the pistol exploded I knocked defendant down with my six-shooter; he did not get up until I stepped over and picked up the pistol, which had fallen out of White’s hands as he fell.  I then walked up to defendant, caught him by the collar and told him to get up.  I did not notice that he was drunk; if he was I did not notice it. When I turned the corner he was in the act of taking his pistol out of his scabbard. I examined the pistol afterwards and found only one cartridge discharged, five remaining. The pistol was a Colt’s 45 calibre.”

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