The life and times of...

Johnny Ringo

The Ringo family comes to America...

Philip Jansen Ringo was the first Ringo to come to America. He was born in Holland in the 1600's. He would get married in New Amsterdam, two years before it would be re-named New York. The Ringo family would quickly spread all over the United States, with Ringo's located in Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Nevada and California.

Philip Jansen Ringo had five children, one of which was named Albertus Ringo 1656-1679, from whom John Peters Ringo directly descends from.


Martin Ringo was born October 1, 1819 in Kentucky.


On September 5, 1848 Martin Ringo marries miss Mary Peters in Clay County, Missouri.

After they were married the couple moved to Wayne County, Indiana, where they would have their first child.

John Peters Ringo is born...

May 3, 1850

Mary Peters Ringo gives birth to John Peters Ringo in Greenfork, Wayne county, Indiana.

Ringo was the eldest of a family of two boys and three girls. The other kids were Martin Albert, Fanny Fern, Mary Enna and Mattie Bell.

John Ringo’s sister Augusta marries a Younger...


Coleman Purcell Younger, the uncle of Thomas Coleman ["Cole"] Younger of later outlaw fame, married Augusta in 1853.

The Ringo family moves west...


Still living in Liberty County, Missouri, Martin Ringo decides to load up a wagon train and move his family to San Jose, California where his oldest sister Augusta lives with her husband Coleman Younger. This would turn out to be devastating five month trip west!


June 7, while on the way to California young Johnny Ringo is run over by a wagon and badly injuries his foot. This same day, young John Ringo witnesses the murder of a man on a wagon.


July 15, the Ringo family wagon train is attacked by Indian arrows , but everyone lucky survives the attack.

John Ringo’s dad accidentally kills himself...


On July 30, while traveling west through Wyoming, Martin Ringo stepped out of his wagon with his shotgun, when it accidentally went off and blew his brains out. The shotgun load entered his right eye and came out the top of his head, scattering his brains everywhere. Young John Ringo and the rest of his family, had to pick up his remains and bury him on a hillside along side the trail. What a traumatic experience for young John Ringo who was only fourteen years old. After the quick road side burial the family continued on their wagon journey west.

Important question?...

Do you think this traumatic experience could have led to John Ringo's later problems with alcohol, and eventually him putting a gun to his own head and committing suicide?

The Ringo family arrives in California...


In late October or early November, after a long and traumatic trip west, the Ringo family finally made it to Augusta and Coleman Youngers ranch in San Jose, California, where the family would take residence in a carriage house on the ranch.


After a year on the Younger ranch, Mary Ringo moved her family to a house on Second street, in San Jose, California. Young Johnny Ringo was now fifteen years old.

Ringo’s troubling years...


These five years in San Jose, California, were really the beginning of a troubled John Ringo. After John’s horrifying experience of his father accidentally death, John became a very trouble young man and started drinking very heavy.

Ringo leaves home...


Ringo who is now nineteen years old and troubled, leaves home in San Jose, California and heads towards Texas.

Ringo in Mason County Texas...

During this time, Ringo would take part in the Mason County war as a member of the Scott Cooley outlaw band.

Ringo moves to Arizona...


Ringo moves west into Arizona Territory. It was at this time when Ringo started running cattle for rancher N.H. "Old Man" Clanton.


The recently founded town of Tombstone, Arizona is booming with Silver, Saloons, Gambling and Wild Woman. Because of the need for meat, the cattle business was also booming and Ringo was running cattle all over the territory with Ike, Phin and Billy Clanton, Curly Bill Brocius, Peter Spencer, the McLaury brothers and several others.

Ringo in a saloon shoot-out...


On December 9, Ringo is involved in a shoot-out in a saloon in Safford, Arizona.


December 14, the Arizona Miner and the Tucson Star newspaper both report that John Ringo was in fact involved in a shooting in Safford, Arizona. A man named Louis Hancock was superficially wounded in the throat by a bullet.

Ringo & Ike Clanton buy property in New Mexico

November 26, 1880

John Ringo and Ike Clanton filed a land location notice in Grant County, New Mexico. The notice was for 320 acres of grazing and farming land in Animas Valley, about 28 miles north of Guadalupe Canyon. The notice stated that the 320 acres would be called "Alfalfa or Cienega Ranch. Later this ranch was called San Simon Cienega and is often referred to as Joe Hills Ranch.

August 1, 1881

A mule train of Mexicans carrying $4000 in coins and bullion was ambushed and killed in Skeleton Canyon. Rumors have it, that several cattle workers of "Old Man" Clanton’s, including John Ringo were involved in the killings.

"Old Man" Clanton is murdered...

August 13, 1881

John Ringo's friend and business associate Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton is gunned down in an ambush by Mexicans and killed in Guadalupe Canyon, Animas valley, New Mexico. Also killed was William Lang, Dixie Lee Gray, Charley Snow and Jim Crane. Billy Byers and Harry Ernshaw both survived the attack. Was this ambush revenge for the murders of which Johnny Ringo was presumably involved in 12 days prior in Skeleton Canyon?

Bullets fly behind the OK Corral...

2:30 p.m. October 26, 1881

The most famous gunfight of wild west history takes place on a vacant lot officially known as lot #2, block 17, in Tombstone, Arizona. Nineteen year old Billy Clanton and Tom & Frank McLaury are murdered. Virgil and Morgan Earp are seriously wounded. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday escape without injuries. As soon as the smoke cleared, Ike Clanton wanted the Earps and Holliday arrested for the murders. This famous gunfight is commonly known today as the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Even though Ringo was not present when this gunfight took place, it would bothered him greatly, because the men murdered were all close friends and business associates.

December 28, 1881

Tombstone Chief of Police Virgil Earp was ambushed while crossing Fifth Street in Tombstone. He would survive the attack, but was crippled for life in his left arm. Ringo’s good friends Ike and Phin Clanton were arrested for the ambush, but released because witnesses confirmed they were in Charleston, when the attack occurred. Rumors were out that Ringo was also involved in this attack.

Ringo challenges Doc and Wyatt to a gunfight...

January 17, 1882

Ringo openly challenges Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp to a gunfight on Allen street, in Tombstone. Everything was quickly calmed by the Tombstone police before anything actually took place.

March 17, 1882

Morgan Earp is murdered by an un-identified assailant while playing pool in a saloon in Tombstone. Frank Stilwell was believed to be the trigger man, but some people believe John Ringo was also involved.

March 22, 23, 1882

On or around these dates, Wyatt Earp leaves Tombstone.

March 24, 1882

Wyatt Earp kills John Ringo’s good friend Curly Bill Brocius.

Ringo Commits suicide...

July 12, 1882

John Ringo apparently committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, near Turkey creek in Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona on or about this date.

Ringo found dead...
July 13, 1882
John Ringo’s body is found lying up against the tree (pictured above)  on Turkey Creek, Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona of apparent suicide. Mysteriously he was wearing his gun belt upside down when he was found dead. Over the years their have been many rumors about the death and or murder of John Ringo, but most of the rumors fall short of facts, leaving us to believe that he in fact committed suicide.

John Ringo’s Gravesite
John Ringo’s body was found beside west Turkey Creek, a few hundred few west of the Sanders Ranch house in southeastern Arizona. He is buried in the marked grave above.

To locate the Sanders Ranch: from US 66, drive east on Highway 181 for twelve miles. Where 181 turns sharply left, go about four miles straight ahead on the gravel West Turkey Creek Road to the Sanders Ranch on the left. The grave is a short distance west of the ranch house bedside West Turkey Creek.

IMPORTANT: The Gravesite is located on private property, and the Sanders family have some mighty big dogs, so you must make arrangements before entering the property.

The historical placard that is posted at the grave

July 14, 1882

Tucson Star Newspaper read:

John Ringgold, <sic> one of the best known men in southeastern Arizona, was found dead in Morse’s Canyon, in Chiricahua mountains, last Friday. He evidently committed suicide. He was known in this section as "King of the Cowboys," and was fearless in the extreme. He had many stanch friends and bitter enemies. The pistol, with one chamber emptied, was found in his clenched fist. (He) shot himself in the head, (the) bullet entering the right side, between eye and ear, and coming out on the top of the head. Some members of his family reside at San Jose, California.

If you have more facts...

If you have any additional facts about John Peters Ringo, please e-mail them to us. Your historical contributions will be greatly appreciated, thank you.

All rights reserved, copyright 1997 Terry "IKE" Clanton


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