Stockton Brothers and the Stockton Gang

Cattle Rustlers

Cattle Rustlers

Isaac “Ike” Stockton (1852-1881) – Born February 9, 1852, and raised in Texas, Stockton was an outlaw and leader of the Stockton Gang of robbers in northern New Mexico. Making his way to Lincoln, New Mexico in 1874, Stockton ran a saloon for a brief time before moving north to Colfax County, New Mexico later that year. No doubt, he had some involvement in the infamous Colfax County War that took place in 1875-76.

He and his brother, Porter “Port”, moved to Trinidad, Colorado briefly in 1876, but after Port killed a man in December, they moved on to western Colorado. There, they posed as cattlemen, settling in the Animas Valley around 1878. Unbeknownst to area residents, Ike was actually running a gang of robbers called the Stockton Gang. They also became involved in a bitter feud with the Simmons family in nearby Farmington, New Mexico. Sometimes referred to as the San Juan County War, the Simmons’ accused the Stocktons of stealing their cattle and selling the beef to army posts. The “war” erupted into full-scale shoot-outs and lynchings in 1880.

On August 24, 1881, one of the gang members, Burt Wilkinson, killed Marshal Clate Ogsbury in Silverton, Colorado, and a $2,500 reward was offered for his arrest. In the meantime, some of the residents were so enraged that they tracked down a young African-American man, who was known as “Kid Thomas” and the “Copper Colored Kid”, who was thought to have been a member of the gang. The 16-year-old boy was captured and jailed in Silverton, and on Sunday evening, August 25th, a large party of men forced their way into the jail and hanged him from the cross beam in the courthouse shed.

Ever the scoundrel, Ike turned in his own gang member, Burt Wilkinson, in order to secure the reward money. Nineteen-year-old Burt Wilkinson was arrested and lynched on September 4th in Silverton, Colorado.

But, the local law certainly didn’t see Stockton as any kind of hero. They soon dug up a New Mexico warrant for Ike for the murder of a man named Aaron Barker in 1881. When Silverton Deputy Sheriff Jim Sullivan went to arrest Ike, the outlaw resisted and the deputy shot him in the leg. Stockton died after having his leg amputated on September 27, 1881. Later, it was said that Deputy Sullivan claimed to hate a traitor more than a murderer.

Port Stockton and his wife Emily.

Port Stockton and his wife Emily.

William Porter “Port” Stockton (1849-1881) – Born and raised in Texas, Port became an outlaw and lawman. He was the older brother of more well-known Ike Stockton, who led the Stockton Gang, a group of thieving robbers in northern New Mexico. Allegedly he killed his first man when he was just 12 years old. He drifted to Dodge City, Kansas briefly before following his older brother to New Mexico in 1874, where Ike ran a saloon in Lincoln. Port shot and killed Juan Gonzales in October 1876 in Cimarron, New Mexico, but was released with a plea of self-defense.

Then, he and Ike moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where he killed another man in a saloon fight just two months later. Arrested, Ike helped him to escape from jail. Amazingly, in 1979-80, he was serving as Marshal in Animas City, Colorado. In June 1879, he killed a man in Otero, New Mexico, but escaped once again. After getting into a dispute with a rancher in Farmington, New Mexico named Alfred Graves, Port was shot by Graves on January 10, 1881.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated June 2021.

Also See:

Outlaw Gangs

Outlaws on the Frontier

Silverton, Colorado

Stockton Gang