Johnny Ringo – Tombstone Rowdy


Johnny Ringo

Johnny Ringo

John Peters Ringo, better known as Johnny Ringo, was an Old West outlaw who fought in the Mason County War in Texas before moving to Tombstone, Arizona and becoming involved with the Clanton Gang.

Ringo was born to a good family on May 3, 1850, in Green’s Fork, Indiana. The family later moved to Liberty, Missouri where Ringo attended college. The family moved again to California, but Ringo headed to Texas in 1869. There, he earned a deadly reputation in numerous gunfights and fought with Scott Cooley in the Mason County War of 1874-1876. For his actions in this feud, he spent almost two years in jail until charges were dismissed.

Afterward, he settled in Loyal Valley, Texas, where he did a short stint as a constable. His life as a lawman; however, didn’t last long as he next appeared in Arizona in 1879. There, Ringo hooked up with the Clanton Gang, a group of outlaws commonly known as the “Cowboys” around Tombstone. Ringo himself was called “the King of the Cowboys.”

Though he was a known antagonist of Wyatt Earp heavily involved with the Clantons, he was not a participant in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In 1882, Ringo was found dead with a bullet in his brain. Though his death was ruled as a suicide, his gun was discovered fully loaded, and most believed it to be murder, some say by either Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. Ringo is buried a few yards from the tree where his body was found. The grave is located on a ranch southeast of Willcox, Arizona, on private property and can only be viewed with permission.

By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated October 2019.

Also See:

Clanton Gang

Old West People Photo Gallery

Outlaws on the Frontier

Tombstone, Arizona

3 thoughts on “Johnny Ringo – Tombstone Rowdy”

  1. Stories may vary as to our name, but here’s a story you can take to the bank. The name is “Ringo” and has been all the way back to year 900 or so when the records vanish, with little-to-no variation in spelling. We are not, nor have we ever been, Rheingold, Rheingoudt, or other Germanic names. We are not Germanic in origin. We are French Gaelic (Walloon) in origin. Possible earlier variation “Ringot”. We fled to The Netherlands to escape Frenchy Catholics after the Edict of Nantes was revoked and then to New Amsterdam in 1638. We do not forget. What I have written here is true; it is known; even the LDS use our private family histories for their geological research. *Note for European detractors: Please argue with someone else (someone less documented) about their surname, would you?* John was my 3rd cousin thrice removed (it would be more like 5th or 6th cousin, but he died quite a while ago. We share a grandfather five or six generations ago) He may have “attended college” but he was not “college educated” in the sense everyone means today. How the devil do you run a website with such piss-poor research? His gun was NOT fully loaded, he DID commit suicide. (Can you blame him? Here’s an exclusive tidbit for you: If you know how his father died, then you know the key to understanding Johnny. You see, young Johnny had *loaded* the shotgun that accidentally killed his father. This is why he crawled into a bottle and never crawled out.) BTW, that pic you see floating around the net that makes him look like Pancho Villa is NOT Johnny. I don’t know who it is, but there is only *ONE* known real photo of Johnny) So there, now you know 3 things about him you didn’t know before, told to you by one who KNOWS, not guesses, not thinks, KNOWS. If you want more, email me and tell me what you want, specifically, and why you want the information.

  2. I am reluctant to offer a factual correction for fear of being considered mean spirited. However, precision in language reflects precision in thought. My correction is offered in response to Kathy Weise-Alexander’s quote “Ringo was found dead with a bullet in his brain.” The coroner’s report described the gunshot wound to the right temple of Johnny Ringo, ws in contemporary forensic syntax, would be called a perforating wound as there was an exit wound. A penetrating wound is one without an exit wound and the projectile remains within the body.

  3. Hi guys !! Here I am, immersed in your wonderful, fascinating, informative site, once again !! Can never read just one article.., like potato chips, or Oreo’s, always gotta have just one more !! Gosh, hesitate to ask, as I am sure you are kept very busy as it is, but would Love to see more on the infamous Johnny Ringo..?! THANK YOU, very sincerely, for all your sincere commitment, & invaluable hard work in creating and maintaining such a rich, all inclusive, and ever expanding resource on the wildly diverse and colourful history of our great Country.., Clearly, a true labor of love !!!

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