The Three Guardsmen – This name was given in Old West literature to describe the three effective U.S. Deputy Marshals, Bill Tilghman (1854-1924), Chris Madsen (1851-1944), and Heck Thomas (1850-1912). In 1889, this trio began the “cleaning up” of Indian Territory , which at the time, was known as a wild and lawless place. Working under Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the three men arrested more than 300 outlaws in the next ten years and killed many others. Their main claim to fame was their relentless pursuit of the members of the Doolin-Dalton Gang, eliminating many of them systematically, and apprehending those that would surrender.
Henry Andrew “Heck” Thomas (1850–1912) – Served in Indian Territory as a U.S. Deputy Marshal and later as a Texas Ranger. He helped break up the Dalton, Doolin, and Casey gangs, and captured the Lee gang.
Benjamin “Ben” Thompson, aka: Shotgun Ben (1842–1884) – A gunman and lawman in Texas, Thompson served as city marshal of Austin, Texas, where it is said he killed thirty-two men. He and his friend King Fisher were both killed in San Antonio in March, 1884.
Zan L. Tidball – A U.S. Marshal assigned to Arizona Territory on July 18, 1882, Tidball replaced Crawley P. Dake, who had been heavily criticized after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall in Tombstone, Arizona in October, 1881. Though Tidball, who was from the east, came well recommended and had previously served as a Department of Justice Examiner, Arizona leaders were not impressed and were not happy to have an “outsider” placed within their midst. In fact, the Arizona Miner complained, “Whey he was appointed is more than we can say.” Soon after his appointment, he made a powerful enemy in San Carlos Indian Agent, Joseph C. Tiffany, who would later accuse Tidball of various misdeeds including bribery. During his tenure, Tidball was tasked with picking up Geronimo on a murder warrant from the Army, to whom the Indian Leader had surrendered. However, Tidball was tricked by a young lieutenant and Geronimo got away.
Tom Tucker – A cowboy, lawman, and gunman, Tucker seemingly best liked using his shooting skills in feuding. While working with the Hash Knife Outfit in Arizona, he got involved in the Pleasant Valley War until he was nearly killed in a shoot-out. After he recovered, he then made his way to Tularosa, New Mexico, where he hired on with cattle baron, Oliver Lee, and soon got caught up in Lee’s feuds with area ranchers. Somewhere along the line, Tucker also worked as an under sheriff in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He died in Texas
Jesse Tyler (??-1900) – A Utah lawman killed by Wild Bunch Gang member, Harvey Logan.
George Tyng -Tyng was hired by the U.S. Army in July, 1872 to provide beef to the remote military installations in Arizona Territory. He was later appointed to complete the unexpired term of the Yuma County Sheriff. However, he resigned the position a year later when he accepted a position in the private sector. On January 30, 1874, he was made a U.S. Marshal for Arizona Territory, replacing the disgraced Isaac Dickason. After a long line of incompetent marshals, Arizona leaders hoped that Tyng might change the position, prompting the Prescott Arizona Miner to say, “We learn from a friend in Washington that Arizona marshals have until now stood in bade repute.” However, Tyng failed to live up to their confidence. Upon taking the position, he find the office disorganized and could not find existing records, who he, himself, had accused of “maladministration.” However, Tyng did little better, acting unsure of himself and doing little to address current or past problems. Later in the year, he took a leave of absence for health reasons and resigned on December 15, 1874. He was succeeded by Francis H. Goodwin.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, August, 2017.
Lawmen of the Old West (main page)