Questions & Answers with Ike Clanton
Howdy & Welcome, let's talk about Tombstone History...
I can't possibly answer all the questions I receive in email... but I will surely try and answer some of them. Please address your email as a "Tombstone Question" in the subject line of your email to us.
e-mail your questions or comments by clicking here
Teach me to read other peoples post. I see this site hasn't had any
questions or answers is 2 years! I say it must be the grave of a rancher
who once lived in the house on the property. I also think Ringo didn't
commit suicide but it made for a good story to stop anybody for being charged
with his murder. He probably wasn't too loved by the non-outlaw group.
It is sad whet happened to the old Clanton Ranch with the fire years ago. Sure erased a lot of history. I loved the old remains of the corrals and the gate that squeeked in the wind. You could almost hear what Ike and his boys were talking about.
It would be nice if you could get back to this site where folks could ask you a question and not be attacked by the bored and unhappy.
Oh well. Ride on cowboy! R.C.
Reneagde Cowgirl -
I've been to Ringos grave a few different times and I don't remember any other graves in the area, sorry.
Yes, that was a shame when the old corrals and trees burned on the Clanton Ranch.
Thanks for yourquestions, Ike
I would like to THANK YOU and your STAFF for taking
CHARGE of YOUR
discussion board. It really was getting uncontrollable. Thanx Again.
My main question? I read a few years ago where the
streets of Tombstone
are sinking due to the tunnels from the past mining. Please comment.
Thanks for your contined support. Yes, you're right, the discussion board was filled with people that simply wanted to argue and cause trouble, hopefully they have found a new place to reside. If the problems continue then we'll simply shut it down for good. Don't worry, this page will never get out of control, so bookmark it now!
Toughnut Street behind the famous rose tree did
caved-in a couple of years ago, however it was an isolated deal blown way
out of proportion by the media. When that happened, CNN made it sound
like the whole town was caving in. Toughnut Street
has been repaired and the town hasn't had any problems since.
Keep your cinch tight, Ike
Wow, what a great website. I was turned on to the story after
seeing Tombstone in 1993, and visited Tombstone in 1995. I wonder
if you were the Clanton who was advertised as giving a talk when I was
there. I didn't get to stick around for more than a few hours.
Nevertheless, after seeing the movie I read some books on the Earps, Doc,
the gunfight, and wasn't too
shocked to find out that the movie had taken some liberties for entertainment's sake. You can't fault the movie makers... the film was great. I have a couple of questions for you.
1. What did you think of the Kevin Costner version "Wyatt Earp"? It was my understanding that they were trying to be more accurate, and in my opinion, the result was thoroughly boring.
I thought Kevin Costners version was a little too long, but I like all the movies that relate to Tombstone history. It's my opinion that Dennis Quaid played Doc Holliday about as close as you'll ever get to the real Doc Holliday. Val Kilmer who played Doc in "Tombstone" was very entertaining, the way we want Doc to be, however Dennis Quaid was Doc Holliday.
2. If the Earps were simply a gang of bad cops only out for themselves, why did they only have trouble with the Clantons and McLaurys? It seems they would have been terrorizing the whole town, and Wyatt would be known as an outlaw and not an old west hero.
The Earp's were good cops, gone bad. I think the key word in your question is "only". Johnny Behan (County Sheriff) and Wyatt Earp certainly didn't get along together, which eventually helped fuel the fire before the famous OK Corral gunfight. Not everyone was in love with Wyatt Earp, he lost when he ran for the county Sheriff position.
Thanks for your time.
Thank you for your questions, I hope I answered your questions, Ike
Howdy ya'll -
Well, the time has come for us to go back to our old format of Tombstone History discussions, as the public Tombstone Discussion Boards have been over run with numerous people using alias names, that simply want to argue and cause trouble.
But hey, we'll make due, no problem, we'll simply go back to discussing Tombstone history right here! No arguing, just plain historical discussion. I will be glad to try an answer your questions, and please be assured that nobody is going to jump down your throat, threaten you or anything of the like. One last thing, theirs no such thing as a stupid question, so let's have some fun!
Is it true that Ike was shot trying to rob a bank?
NO... but this certainly made me laugh when I heard it at the end of the movie "Tombstone". Actually it's quite sad, I can't beleive how many people now beleive this to be true facts just from that movie! The facts show us that where Ike was killed is far from any bank, it's actually out in the middle of nowhere! Another made up fact that even some historians beleive is: Ike Clanton's hat was found at the scene where Virgil Earp was shot from. The truth: Ike wasn't there, nor was his hat.
Thanks for your question, Ike
You are full of it! I have reviewed many articles and other evidentiary
material, not the least important of which is the opinion of Judge Spicer
after the pretrial hearing on the Earps and John Holiday <sic>. I have
to say, You are the only person who boldly proclaims your ancestors'
innocence. Lets take a look at the facts shall we?
1. It was against the law to carry fire arms in the City of Tombstone.
The facts show that it was not against the law
to carry a firearm in city
limits if you were leaving town, which the cowboys were getting ready
to do when the gunfight took place. This was a city limits law, not
applicable on private property. The vacant lot in which the cowboys
were standing and allegedly breaking the law carrying firearms was
2. Ike Clanton did carry fire arms. That is why he was arrested
to pay a fine. On the same day as the fight, his weapons were taken away
from him and deposited with the Grand Hotel. This, Mr. Clanton, is the only
reason why Ike did not have a firearm at the time of the Gun Fight.
Incidentally, if he was any kind of a man, he would not have left his
younger, teenaged brother alone in a fight against the Earps and Doc.
Holiday,<sic> where Billy was almost certainly going to get shot. (I do concede
that the Earps should have not struck Ike over the head with a gun earlier
that day. I would be angry too! But that did not give the Clantons the
right to break the law.)
The facts show us that the Earps and Doc Holliday
confrontation the night before. Doc Holliday should have been arrested by
the Earps who were present when Doc threatened and tried to goat Ike
into a gunfight the night before. The Earps were dirty cops, they simply
backed up Docs criminal acts instead of arresting him and solving the
problem lawfully. Then to make things worse, they threaten Ike
themselves, and told him that he had better arm himself and get ready for
a fight. With all this in mind, yes Ike armed himself in self defense!
Sorry, but you have to read all the facts.
3. The McLaury's of whom you speak with such fondness in your
also were breaking the law by carrying guns. Now, I understand that Tom
checked his gun in, but Frank did not and would not, even after his friend,
Sheriff Behan insisted that Frank release his gun to Behan. In fact, Frank
was insistent that the Earps, the representatives of the law, in Tombstone
should be disarmed. Try telling any peace officer, in any society, that in
order for you to give up your gun, the police needs to also be disarmed. I
wager, they would bust a gut laughing at you.
I don't think the any police officer would be
laughing to find out that one
of his own was committing criminal acts while wearing a badge. The Earps
were dirty cops carrying guns and threatening peoples lives. My first two
answers above should clarify why the Clantons and McLaurys felt this way.
4. Before the first shot was even fired, Virgle <sic> Earp
made clear his
intention that he did not want a shoot out, but rather wanted to disarm
them. All they needed to do was comply. All would have been well.
Coulda, shouda, woulda, and the gunfight would
have never taken place,
yeah sure. Using your same coulda, woulda shoulda, if the Earps were
good lawful cops they would have arrested Doc the night before and the
whole thing would have been over. But no the Earps backed up Doc's
criminal acts which led to the gunfight in which they should have been
convicted of murder.
5. The only person in the "outlaw" group that was not shot, save
Claiborne who escaped, was Ike Clanton. This is because the Earps, were
certain that Ike did not have a gun. The were certain because Ike made that
clear very early in the fight and was given an opportunity to escape. If
the Earps wanted to "murder" Ike, as he claimed in the pretrial, Ike would
have been killed. The Earps would have been cleared because they could have
reasonably perceived Ike as a potential danger. Judge Spicer agrees.
After Sheriff Behan tried to stop any type of
confrontation, Ike tried next to stop
it, but to no avail. Don't believe what you see in the movies, when Morgan Earp
and Doc Holliday started firing first, Ike was standing right next to Wyatt who
would have most certainly been killed by what they call today "friendly fire".
6. Billy Clanton, the 19 year old, angle who was "murdered" by
the Earps in
the blossom of his youth, was carrying a gun and was shooting at the police.
I love your claim that he was shooting in self defense. He did not have the
right to carry a gun, much less discharge it, in self defense or for any
other reason. I Suppose, if Ike had not been lucky enough to have been
disarmed earlier that day and had participated in the attack on the Earps
later that day, and shot (as it is almost certain he would have been shot)
the Earps would have been guilty of Ike's death as well.
Again, you are failing to realize that the Earp's
and Holliday were the
actual threatening parties from the beginning, therefore yes, I consider this
self defense against unlawful outlaw cops, and an unlawful citizen that
should have been arrested for disturbing the peace and threatening Ike's
life the night before the gunfight.
7. Listen to the sound of this: "Clanton GANG," "Mclaury
GANG." Why would
you believe that anyone would call their association a "GANG?" Would that
be because they were law abiding citizens of Tombstone or would it be
because, as judge Spicer said in his opinion, that they were a law defying
element in the city? Why would the citizens of Tombstone be complaining
about the unruliness of the Cowboys and demanding the law (the Earps) do
something about them if the Cowboys, including Ike, where the church going
angels that you claim they were? Incidentally, have you thought about why
it is that the Earps were not called a "Gang?"
The Earps have most certainly been called "The Earp Gang"
Mr. Clanton, you can try to shade the events in the best light possible
Ike, Billy, Tom and Frank. The fact of the matter remains, you can not
place blame where it does not lie. Incidentally, I hope you will get your
wish of movie in which Ike is made the hero. I love a good Fiction.
I certainly hope my bold answers have helped you better understand the facts.
Thanks for your questions, Ike
Do you think that there is a possibility that Ike might have, you know, bent the truth? Is their any corroborating testimony, or are we asked to accept Ike's word as gospel?
Howdy Allen -
I certainly believe Ike Clanton's testimony more than I do Wyatt's professionally fabricated written testimony, specially designed to get him off the hook.
Remember, Ike Clanton was not on Trial, I have no reason to not beleive Ike's testimony. Yes, like any other trial, Ike may have been confused about some of his facts, especially under cross examination by a lawyer who is trained to try and mess you up.
But's here's the facts: Ike Clanton got up on the stand and testified, he was not a coward like Wyatt Earp, who choose not too, why?. I'll tell you why. As you know, Wyatt Earp cowardessly ran from many court cases against him when he was younger, this case was no different. Their is no doubt in my mind that Wyatt was guilty in these previous cases, or he would have stayed around, testified the truth and beat the cases! But no, he ran and became a fugitive from justice more than once because he was guilty!! Common sense has brought me to this conclusion.
I also feel this is why Wyatt didn't get on the stand at the Inquest, he knew he was in the wrong so a carefully written statement with no chance of cross examination was his best bet, and hey it worked. Having Judge Spicer as a family friend didn't hurt either.
I know theirs thousands of people like yourself that feel Wyatt Earp is the greatest lawmen who ever lived, did no wrong, etc., however I'm not one of these people, nor do I want to argue with people about this.
This is simply my opinion, Doc Holliday & the Earp's started the gunfight the night before. If the Earp's were good cops they would have stopped everything right then and there by arresting Doc Holliday for disturbing the peace and carrying a firarm in city limits, and the whole thing would have been over and done with.
I hope this helps you out, Ike
I was watching the movie "Tombstone" w/ Kurt Russell.
When he agreed to
fight the Clanton's at OK Corral, he asked Virgil to give Doc the shotgun
because "they are less likely to get nervy if Doc is on the 'street howitzer'"
What exactly is a "Street Howitzer".
Also, your website indicates that the distance
between the Earp's and
Clantons at OK is much closer than that depicted in the movies, or in the
statutes at the OK Corral that my wife & I saw when we visited.
What was the distance between the 2 parties?
Howdy Zak -
Thanks for your questions, I'm glad you're enjoying the Clanton web site.
In the movie "Tombstone", Doc Holliday's 10 gauge shotgun is referred to as a "Street howitzer".
Very different than Hollywood movies have depicted, the REAL gunfight began at almost point blank range, about 4 or 5 feet apart.
"Not all good men wore badges" Ike
Comments from Chip Cooper
I've been visiting your web site for quite a while and always find it good reading. I've been a serious student of the OK Corral for quite a while and still don't really know what happened.
I also have wondered to what degree Virgil could have been held accountable for what happened. After all he was the man in charge. I know Judge Spicer let all the Earps and Doc Holliday off, but that was based in part on the judge's acceptance of Wyatt's claim that he and Billy Clanton fired first. Despite the collaborating testimony of H. F. Sills, I am inclined to believe the first two near simultaneous shots were fired by Doc and Morgan. My question then is not whether Virgil morally responsible (I think you could say he was) but was he criminally liable for the deaths, given his deptuies fired first.
Recently I put this question to a licensed attorney. I didn't use names and didn't indicate it was necessarily an Old West shootout. But I did sketch the scenario that the first shots fired the deputies may not really have been self-defense.
The answer was a bit of a surprise. Even in our modern litigenous society, I was told, Virgil may have gotten off. If he was acting within the scope of his authority, then he could claim what is known as "sovereign immunity." So if all Virgil intended to do was arrest the Clantons and McLaurys for carrying arms within the city limits, that could be a legitimate defense. The lawyer said this could be true even if Doc and Morgan were guilty of murder themselves. Nowadays, of course, there could have been a flurry of civil-rights actions and wrongful death suits, but it's possible Virgil could legitimately have gotten out of criminal prosecution.
This does NOT mean Doc and Morgan were in the clear. Nor does it mean that Virgil acted wisely. If he had stayed back when Johnny Behan told him too, the whole tragedy would have been avoided.
The lawyer I consulted was not a criminal lawyer and didn't want to
push his reasoning too far (he also didn't charge me anything and didn't
do an in-depth study). So I'm sure the issues are much more complex
than I stated above. But I was wondering if there are any attorneys
who specialize in criminal law who are also Old West fans and could put
in their two cents worth about the sovereign immunity defense.
Howdy Chip -
If the gunfight at OK Corral happened today, I
believe the Earps and Holliday would be thrown in the slammer for murder,
no question about it, things would be a lot different. I think the
biggest thing that would go against them, and should have convicted them
in 1881, is asking Doc Holliday to go down and help disarm the cowboys.
The Earps witnessed the argument the night before between Doc Holliday
and Ike Clanton, if they were lawmen that were going to stop the problems,
they would would have known better than to take dynamic to a fire is going
to cause a big explosion!
Can you imagine a cop today asking one of his (non-law enforcement) buddies to go help him disarm a bunch of people!
Today, Wyatt Earp would also not be able to have a written statement read to the courts without being cross examined etc.
And yes, Virgil Earp would probably be the one responsible. Unfortunately, I feel he (Virgil) was one of the only people who really wanted the whole thing resolved without any problems.
Remember... There is two sides to every story, thanks for listening to the other side, "Ike"
Comments from John
As a decendant of Holliday, I can give you
the information I have, which
has been told to me from my family.
One, Holliday opened fire first in the Corral. See, John
was not worried
about death. In a writing by Kate " big nose" ,( a funny term indeed ), Doc
felt he was doomed to die anyway, so why bother putting off with guns".....
Anyhow, W.Earp was a gold-digger. When he could no longer rob what he
wanted, he turned to law to decieve people, and get what he wanted and make
it look legal-like.
This was the marrage in the Holliday-Earp friendship. Had
fired first, the outcome still would likely be the same. Virgil was the only
one there who really wanted to make a change, but would never cross his kin.
Now, to give Doc over would be to hang the Earps
as well, so the story
,,,trial offers up the fanfare, and the fiction.
I am sorry for your loss, even it happening
so very long ago. You may
do what you wish with this information, for I fear it shall open up no bigger
a can of worms than history has already.
The stink of all this is that we will never actually
confirm the history
of any of this, or that one way or the other. But let me say this: Fly
wanted to keep the bodies there to set up for photograph them outside, but
the Earps ( don't know which one) threatened his life if he did.
There are no pictures, I swear by that.
There also is nobody innocent.
The Clantons have actually had mixed ( in a good way ) with the Earps prior
to Tombstone, but I'm sure you already know that.
As for me, I don't bother talking much
about the past, although I
realize it's importance to you. I benefits me not to even try, because the
people I know really have no respect for a time in which the people had very
Howdy John -
Thank you for your comments, Happy Trails, Ike
Question from Scott Oberste:
I have a hard time believing the "True History"
written on this page. With
all the documents and accounts of Old Man Clanton and the bunch, I can't buy
your church going image of Billy and Ike (Like father, like son). I agree
the "Tombstone" film was not totally accurate. One thing the film left out
you did as well. Doc was shot at the gunfight, in the hip. I think some of
the things you write could be true but not all.
Good Luck on your film endeavors,
Howdy Scott -
Throughout my studies I have never come across any facts showing that "Doc" Holliday was actually shot in the hip. During the OK Corral gunfight he was actually hit in the holster but it did not penetrate his body.
Thanks for your opinions, happy trails, Ike
Question from Bobby Akers:
I wondered if you have ever corresponded with any descendants from the Earp or Holliday families. And if you have, is there still a slight grudge even today? Or are the descendants able to talk to each other peacefully and share opinions of what happened long ago between their two famous families?
Thank you, Bobby Akers
P.S. Also, are there any descendants of Johnny Ringo alive today?
Howdy Bobby... Great question!
Yes.. the Earps and the Clantons seem to get along quite well now... heck, an Earp has even join the Clanton Gang, how about that! <grin>
I worked with Glenn "Wyatt" Earp (cousin of the Earps) and Bud Thomas (a cousin of Doc Holliday) on "Showtime at the OK Corral" back in 1996. This was the first time an Earp, a Holliday and a Clanton, had been in Tombstone together since the famous gunfight in 1881. Although we still don't all agree on what happen back in 1881, everyone had a great time working together and telling their side of the story. The last couple of years, just to say hello, I have called Glen "Wyatt" Earp on the telephone phone on October 26th, right around 2:30 p.m.
Doc Holliday's cousin Bud Thomas is a real character, I really enjoyed working with him as well.
I have also met Wyatt Earp and his wife Terry from Phoenix, both great people.
As for Ringos living relatives, I'm sure they're around, but I have not personally met anyone related to John Ringo yet.
Thanks again for your question, Ike
E-mail message from Steve Jones:
Nice website,When I was about 14 (1965) my stepfather worked as a chemist for WR Grace Co. in Simpsonville Md.My mother was the company nurse and the company Dr. that made rounds at the place came to our house quite often.He brought many old guns to our small farm to shoot.We would shoot all day.One day we just shot old colt 45's 1873 peacemakers.He told us a story,that goes like this.As a doctor in Korea(1951) he was working on a army boy who said that if he could save his life his father was a sherriff in Kansas City and since he liked guns his father would give him a nice pistol with a history.Seems when his body (ringos) was found the local sherriff kept the pistol and gave to his son(the army boys father)who later became a sherriff in Kansas City.The gun from what I can remember was a 1873? colt It fired rather nice 45 colt blackpowder.It did have 4 knotches in the handle. The gun I think is still in Md. with the doctors family.
Cool Story huh Steve Jones(decendant of Brig Gen William E. (GRUMBLE) Jones 1822-1864 CSA
Thanks for the story and the information on Ringos gun, I think a lot of people will find this interesting.
Question from Damian
I've got two questions that are unrealated. I hope you don't mind. First I've read about the shooting of Billy Claiborne by Buckskin Frank Leslie, but I've never actually read on acount of the shooting. I was wondering if you could please give an acount of this shooting (by the way I think that Buckskin Frank Leslie is one of the most interesting people in Tomestone history is there anything written about him). My second question is that I read somewere yesterday that Tom Horn came to Tomestone in 1877 to work the silver mines. Is that true?????? Thanks, damian
On November 14, 1882, "Billy the Kid" Claiborne was shot and killed by Buckskin Frank Leslie, just outside of the Oriental Saloon, located on the corner of Fifth and Allen Street in Tombstone.
As the story goes... Claiborne (armed with a rifle) was calling Frank out the front door of the Saloon on Allen street, when Frank surprized him by coming out the side door on Fifth street. Frank yelled at Caliborne, "Billy don't shoot, I don't want you to kill me, and I don't want to have to shoot you." Almost before Frank could finished this sentence, Claiborne took a shot at Frank and missed. Buckskin Frank returned fire, and he didn't miss!
Billy Claiborne was buried in Tombstone's Boothill Graveyard.
I don't know of a book that deals with just Buckskin Frank Leslie and his life story, but that's not to say there isn't one. "The Chronicles of Tombstone" by Ben T. Traywick, has quite a bit of information on Nashville Franklyn Leslie (his real name). We sell this book in the Clanton Ranch General Store. Click here to go shopping
Side note: Through the years... many people have confused Billy Claiborne with the world famous outlaw William Bonney. Both went by the nickname of "Billy the Kid"
Yes... In 1877, after Buckskin Frank Leslie was discharged from the army in Texas, he rode with Tom Horn to the area that would later become known as Tombstone.
I hope this helps you out, Thanks for the questions, Ike
Question from Tim
howdy ike, thank you very much for your quick response. i am very glad to find that someone is telling the truth! i've just finished mr. casey tefertiller's book and really enjoyed it, but are we going to find out that it was made up? hope not! i am really interested in more facts but i don't think i can find what i'm looking for in most books. i have read almost every book out there. i think i'm going to have to talk to people such as yourself and some old timers. maybe your gang is just what i need.i have one more question, is there anything left of the clanton ranch? if so is there any way i could see any photos of it? i have been to tombstone and enjoyed it except i ask the question why wasn't more things preserved? what a shame! i plan to make tombstone an yearly trip. i look forward to hearing from you and maybe one of these days getting to meet you! by the way i live in north carolina, if you ever are coming this way contact me and we'll get together for a visit!
ps i think everyone is looking for info on doc holliday,how are we going to find it?
thanks for everything, tim
Over the years there has quite a bit of discussion on where the original Clanton Ranch was even located. To my knowledge, the location I currently believe is the site of the old Clanton Ranch, there is nothing left but the old foundation. The Ranch was located about 13 miles south of Tombstone. I am planning to include more historical information on the original Ranch on the new Clanton Ranch page later this week. Hopefully soon, (Scanner permitting) I'm also hoping to up load a picture of the area where the Clanton Ranch once stood, along with pictures and historical information on the old town of Charleston.
Thanks for the question, happy holidays, Ike
Question from Erik Hewitt
Howdy, Ike! Just wondering how it was that James, the elder of the Earp brothers, managed to stay above the fray in all of this? Afterall, he was a Civil War veteran and must have known how to use a gun.
Yes... I'm sure James Earp knew how to use a gun, but I think he also learned at an early age how to stay away from problems just as Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton's oldest son John Wesley Clanton did.
I think James Earp was a lot more laid back than the rest of his brothers. James was once a bar tender at Vogins Alley, a small two lane bowling alley located on Allen Street in Tombstone. Minus the bowling lanes, Vogins Alley ( now an eatery) is still alive and well today in Tombstone (pretty good hamburgers as well).Vogins Alley is also the location where Johnny-behind-the-duce was once hidden to avoid being hung by angry vigilantes.
Question from Erik Hewitt
I recently came across an article written by a Tombstone historian which stated that both Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday returned to Tombstone in 1882 prior to the death of John Ringo. When the body of John Ringo was discovered his boots were missing and his gun belt turned upside down. Missing boots, probably some drifter came across the body first and thought, hmmm nice boots...but the gun belt turned upside down? Also, later in life, Wyatt Earp admitted to killing John Ringo himself. If it's not true, sure is a strange thing to boast about. Any comments?
I have also read this, but I feel the Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, coming back to kill John Ringo theory, is a Johnny come lately thought!
In my opinion John Ringo killed himself. We will never really know what happen that fateful day in July on the Saunders Ranch, but all the true facts lead to him killing himself.
Currently, I think the best book to read for historical facts on John Ringo, is by Jack Burrows.
Thanks for the question, Ike
You seem to be buying into the contention that Curly Bill was shot and killed by Wyatt Earp. Of course there are many who say Curly Bill was not in Arizona at the time he was supposed to be shot by Wyatt. Wyatt and many of his supporters claim that, but others disagree. Until someone can supply some concrete evidence, I prefer to leave the question open.
It has, however, been some time since I last visited Tombstone (1981) and I'm afraid I haven't kept up with much of the latest in research. Is there anything more concrete that Wyatt's say so, or that of Fred Dodge, who if he really did write the memoirs edited by Carolyn Lake, is pretty much a person who lived in fantasy land. His word is not to be trusted in these matters.
Interested in your point of view on Curly Bill
Yes... until someone comes up with some more facts... I'm going went the fact that Curly Bill was shot and killed by Wyatt Earp in Iron Springs.
However... as you say, the jury is still out on this one.
Question from Damian
I have a question about the stage couch robbery that Doc Hollady took place in. Was the robbery successful? And if so what happened to the money??? Thanks, Damian
Thanks for the question Damian.
This was an attemped robbery that was botched on March 15, 1881. When the robbers were unable to stop the stagecoach they started shooting killing the driver Bud Philpot and a passenger. All of the money onboard was accounted for.
Question from Nyteal Nelson
In the movie Tombstone Doc Holliday killed Ringo, I have also heard Ringo killed himself.What really happened?
Howdy Nyteal, .
Yeah... Hollywood keeps getting it wrong!, Doc Holliday did NOT kill John Ringo! John Ringo committed suicide on or around the date of July 13, 1882. At this date and time Doc was known to be in Colorado. In fact, I have heard that Doc was in court the same day Ringo was found dead next to the tree in Turkey Creek.
Thanks for the question, Ike
See the complete John Ringo story in our history section... Click Here
Ike, thanks for your reply. I must say I really enjoy your website. The first time I've ever heard the Clanton's side of the story. No offense, but I guess I still fall into the mainstream, being a fan of Wyatt Earp. I picture the scene like this: Virgil probably didn't want any trouble and truly meant to disarm the cowboys. Of course, Wyatt, the steely eyed confidence man, was there to back his brothers one way or the other. The problem on the Earps side comes with Morgan, the hothead, and Doc. While walking to Fly's wasn't Morgan quoted as saying, "Let 'em have it." and Doc's reply, "Okay." This makes the Clanton side look good. And also that Doc was with them at all is also a good point for the Clanton side of the story. Now, enter Johnny Behan, a man Wyatt did not like or trust. Johnny tries to stop them saying there will be trouble. This would give the Earps more reason to believe the worst was about to happen. Then Behan lies and says he'd already disarmed the cowboys. Good, then there won't be any trouble. Whatever happened next is unclear. Some of the cowboys were armed, some were not. Who actually drew first? Doc? One of the McLaury's? Or are we even asking the right question? What was the direct cause of the gunfight? Ike Clanton was drinking and threatening Holliday and the Earps the night before, giving the Earps every reason to believe there may be men riding into town the next day to kill them. Bottom line seems to be Ike's drunken ranting, which is probably all it was (the fact that he was unarmed when the Earps and Holliday arrived should attest to this), caused the gunfight that he himself ran away from. In favor ot the Clantons, one thing is certain. The Clantons may have lost the gunfight that day but in the end they won the war. The Earps did leave Tombstone and the Clantons are still there to this day.
I would have to say Doc Holliday drew first, because I believe he fired first!
The direct cause of the gunfight was a double murder cover-up!!
Ya see... on March 15, 1881 Doc Holliday was involved in an attempted stage coach robbery in which the driver and a passenger were murdered. The men involved were... Jim Crane, Bill Leonard, Harry Head, Luther king and Doc Holliday!
The gunfight episode really started the night before when Doc Holliday started threatening an un-armed Ike Clanton in a lunch house next to the Eagle Brewery Saloon on Allen Street. Plain and simple... Doc Holliday was threatening Ike Clanton's life because Ike knew that Doc was the trigger man in these two stage coach murders. Ike was trying to have Holliday hung for this!
Thanks for the questions and comments Erik.
Question from... Ellis T. Badon
Did you or anyone else ever wonder why G. Spangenberg,
or an employee if he had any, was never called to testify at the Spicer
hearing? There is much about that hearing I don't quite understand. For
instance, no cross-examiniation of W. Earp. Would like to hear your views.
By the way, I always thought it would have been nice if Fly had taken photos
of the aftermath of the fight. He was there, witnesses tell of him ordering
someone to take a gun from Billy Clanton. Then too, maybe he did take photos
and they were destroyed by the fire at Fly's studio. Thanks for your site,
I haven't been able to view all of it as yet,
but will get a round tuit. Ellis T. Badon,
I think you've hit the nail on the head with your comments!
Yes, I've wondered about these facts for years!
I think it's pretty safe to say the the Spicer hearing was a Kangaroo court!
It took quite a while to set-up camera's in those days, so Fly probably didn't take photos of the aftermath, but you're right, they could have been destroyed in one of two fires. How about this theory.... Do you think the Earps or Doc Holliday could have destroyed the photos? Remember the Earps and Holliday were on trial for murder, these photos could be mighty damaging!
Thanks for the comments and question, Ike
Another question from... Bruce D.
Bruce is full of good questions... Thanks!
I know this is a bit ghoulish, but since the nature of the wounds on both the Clantons and McLaury's is still an item of hot debate, how about digging up the boys and having a modern forensic scientist have a look? Recently they did this with Huey Long and two U.S. Presidents whose deaths were also suspect. Might answer a lot of questions (on the other hand, when I was in Tombstone a year and a half ago, I was told by parties whose credentials seemed pretty good to me, that when the location of Boothill was changed no one was too careful about who was under what grave marker.)
First... Boothill was never moved, but yes... some of the graves might be off a couple of feet here or there. Years ago, they used city records to replace most of the markers into or very near there right locations.
I do believe that the locations of the Clantons and McLaurys are in the right places, but I don't think we could ever get scientists to dig them up! Plus there probably wouldn't be enough DNA to do anything with. I'm sure the wooden boxes they used for caskets are long gone along with the bones!
Another good question from... Bruce D.
The issue of Fly taking pictures of the aftermath at the OK Corral battle has long been on my mind. Certainly he could not have resisted the temptation to take some photos. Has anyone tracked the later career of Fly, where he ended up, descendants etc.
I think about this as well!
Wouldn't it be great if someone would find a long lost trunk containing all of Flys photo plates of the OK Corral aftermath!
Wishful think I know... But it does make you think!
Taking photos in those days took a long time to set-up... but I'm with you, I don't think a man like Fly would have missed an opportunity like this!
In the heat of the moment... Fly might have missed taking photos of the actual gunfight aftermath, but I don't think he would have missed the funeral!
If this is the case... where did the funeral photos go?
Were these photos destroyed by the Earps? Remember after the gunfight the towns people sided with the Clantons. If these photos really existed, they would have made the Earps look really bad. Just a thought!
No...I haven't run across any publications on C.S. Fly yet!
I'm sure it won't be long before someone takes up this challenge.
Thanks again for a good question... Ike
Question from... Bruce D.
Dear Terry Ike Clanton,
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the "OK Corral Symposium" tapes I purchased about a month back. I finally got around to listening to them yesterday and it made for a very enjoyable couple of hours.
A couple of things come to mind.
The publication of Boyer's "Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta" certainly alters the scope and direction of a lot of the heretofore accepted material on Wyatt and Tombstone. I am highly curious as to how this book has been received by Earp scholars. Is the jury still out on this?... Is the story by the anonymous writer considered legitimate?
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the "OK Corral Symposium" tapes I purchased about a month back. I finally got around to listening to them yesterday and it made for a very enjoyable couple of hours.
A couple of things come to mind.
I have read just about everything that has ever been written on Tombstone including "Wyatt Earps Tombstone Vendetta"
No matter what I read... I always start with an open mind!.. Sometimes I agree with what an author has to say, sometimes I don't!... but that's what makes this Tombstone history stuff so interesting!
Personally, I have only met Glen Boyer one time... that was when I was speaking in Tucson at the WOLA convention. He was in the audience when I gave my talk, telling the other side of the story, going against most of what Mr. Boyer has written over the years in his publications about Tombstone and the gunfight... Mr. Boyer gave me his utmost respect and even commented that I do a great job telling the other side of the story!
The short time I got to talk with him, I found Mr. Boyer a treat to talk to... especially with his quick wit and sense of humor! Not that I agree with everything he has ever written... but personally, I feel he is one of the most knowlegable people alive today on Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, the gunfight, etc...I only wish I could have spent a couple of hours chatting with him!
I have alway's enjoyed reading Glen Boyers work, including "Wyatt Earps Tombstone Vendetta."
But to answer your question regarding... Is the story by the anonymous writer considered legitimate? . I can't answer your question... because I don't honestly know one way or the other, if Ten Eyck was a real person or not!...I guess you'll have to judge for yourself as to what you believe!
Thanks again for your questions...
May the dust never linger long on your boots... Ike
Comment from Ellis Badon...
Well, it has taken me some time to find the material I will use to document my "thinking" on the Earps and Clantons, which I previously said I would do for you. Had to dig into old boxes and a chest in the attic. Well, here goes.
The presumption I have, as related to you previously, is that the gunfight began as a result of a feud between two sets of men of dubious character - Earps and Clantons. I also told you I believe the two groups may have been friends at one time and part of the same gang of stagecoach robbers in and around Tombstone. Heretofore, I have only glazed over the "thinking" without much documentation to back it up. And, as you well know, the theory is not original with me.
First, let's establish the Earp character references. There is John Clum, founder and editor of the Epitaph, which will be used sparingly here for documentation. There also is Lorenzo Walters, noted southwestern author and historian.
Writing to George H. Kelly on Aug. 30, 1929, Clum shared several thoughts on Earp and Doc Holiday. Kelly at the time was the official historian of Arizona and was part of a committee which was planning the 50th anniversary of the founding of Tombstone. You can find ample documentation for that in the 1928 and 1929 editions of the Epitaph on file, among other places, at the state Archives in the capitol building in Phoenix.
Anyway, among the thoughts of Clum in that letter were the following:
- The Earp story is a good one if people want "blood and thunder", and it would not disturb me even a little bit if published anywhere as "separate" all by its lonesome any old time -- BUT: (Clum's emphasis, not mine) As I suggested to you in my note to you at South Gate, I am willing to contribute my mite in defence of Wyatt, but I do not wish to appear in the role of a supporter of Doc. Holliday, and when this story of Wyatt's and my own are published side by side in the same magazine we have presented what you editors term "the deadly parallel".
- There is no doubt in my mind that Doc Holliday was loyal to his friends and a "dead game sport" --- whether he was playing poker, or pulling the trigger. I made a stage trip with him once from Tucson to Tombstone. He told me he cane to Arizona expecting to die from tuberculosis, and he intimated that this ailment often eliminated the joy of living and the fear of death, and that, while he would not deliberately provoke a gun fight, neither would he take the trouble to avoid it, as it might prove the boon that would end it all for him. You can understand that, in that frame of mind, he, doubtless , was a loyal friend and "game" as a gambler, or in a gun fight, but he was not a constructive citizen.
- (Speaking of the Earp party when it left Tombstone following the killing of Stillwell) As I remember, the went south and west for a couple of days. "Indian Charlie" was killed south from Tombstone, and the fight with the POSSE (emphasis mine) under Curly Bill occurred over toward the foothills of the Huachuca mountains. Then the Earp party headed northeast to the Sulphur Springs Valley to Hooker's -- and thence on to New Mexico and Colorado. It was when he left Tombstone at that time that he became "a fugitive from the county officers", and it is obvious that he had no opportunity after that to perform "the duties of U.S. Deputy Marshal with the sanction and moral support of" his chief. (This was a reference to Wyatt being quoted in a San Francisco newspaper in 1896 regarding his Tombstone days.)
I know there are copies of this Clum letter around and you may already have knowledge of it. Clum wrote a small letter to Kelly on Aug. 23, which led up to the more extensive letter of Aug. 30.
The purpose of the foregoing was to give a view of a close Earp supporter of Doc Holliday and what Clum thought of Wyatt's actions when he left the territory. While he backed off a little bit from Wyatt, the two remained friends until Wyatt's death in 1929.
The following excerpt comes from an article printed in the Sept. 10, 1881 edition of the Epitaph under the 1-column headline "ATTEMPTED ARREST OF McMASTERS: - To Marshall Williams, Tombstone: Received at 8:30 p.m. Tell V.W. Earp that I want McMasters, signed R.H. Paul.
The article goes to describe the attempted capture of Sherman McMasters, who was described as a "notorious robber." It also goes on to describe how Virgil Earp, with help from brother James, searched the saloons for McMasters, despite the fact that Virgil had earlier seen McMasters heading toward the O.K. Corral. Despite a continuing search by Earp and Sheriff John Behan, McMasters managed to make good his escape.
Move to the March 28, 1929 edition of the Tombstone Epitaph and an interview with W.B. Ashley, a resident of Tombstone since its early days. The Epitaph quotes Ashley as saying, "The Earps, when they were finally forced to leave, were considered the worst of all the early-day badmen, and this was the unanimous opinion of the people here at that time. After they left, a man named Williams, who was head of the Wells Fargo Company here, confessed that he had been intimidated by the Earps and had informed them for some time past of all of the valuable shipments leaving on the stage." Ashley is wrong about the opinion being unanimous of course, but certainly opinion was running high against the Earps.
Now, let's take a look at a letter, dated Dec. 12, 1924, from Lorenzo Walters to George Kelly, official historian of Arizona. I do not know what prompted the letter, but part of it has the following comments regarding the members of a gang of outlaws headquartered in the Davis Mountain area near the Arizona- New Mexico border. It reads:
- Z.Z. Boone was the Capt., Doc. Holiday was Camp Physician, Dutch John, Big Dave, Little Dave, Billy Grounds (Burcher), Harry Hunt, Cactus, Dutch Styles, Russian Bill, Sandy King, John Ringold, Black George (James), Bert Alvord, Billy Stiles, Billy the Kid, Curley Bill, Billy Jackson (Jones), Larry Shean, Dick Hart, Jimmie Hughes, Ike, Finn, and Billy Clanton of the Clanton Brothers and the three Earps, there were others coming and going all of the time, but the above list was the most important ones.
Here's what Walters had to say (in the letter) about who operated with who and what area they covered:
- Grounds, Hunt, the Clantons and the Earps operated mostly around Tombstone and along the line, while Doc Holliday; and his gang operated north along the S.P. Lines. Alvord and Stiles operated closer to Tucson. (Very interesting scenario, wonder if history backs up this assertion?)
The point of all this being that one is judged by the company one keeps. When Earp left Tombstone and Arizona he was accompanied by, among others, Sherman McMasters. Clum denounced Earp's assertion that the party he was riding with at that time was a "posse." As for Earp's claim that he was a U.S. Deputy Marshal, there is no paperwork to confirm that. Most people rely on a report in the investigation of Crawley P. Dake, who was U.S. Marshal in Arizona in 1881. In that report, Wyatt Earp tells the investigator he was a deputy for Dake. The investigator does not make the assertion, Wyatt does. So much for documentation.
Here's more on Earp's character. Former Arizona Congressman James Baker had this to say: There was nothing, absolutely nothing about them (Earps) for a decent man to admire in any way. They were killers, crooked gamblers, highwaymen, who often the pursuit of their criminal profession took human life for no reason at all. Congressman Baker's letter can be found on file in the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society in the Hancock Collection. Baker's letter is dated Dec. 4, 1931 and is addressed to J.C. Hancock, a well-know southeast Arizona man who served as a justice of the peace.
Here's a point Hancock makes about the so-called gunfight: "If those boys (Clantons) were the blood-thirsty desperadoes Wyatt painted them to be, why did they not pull those rifles out of the scabbards and clean up on the Earps before they got without shotgun distance. This statement can also be found in the Hancock collection.
One last point, and this again is not original with me, it has been said by Earp supporters Earp's were supported by most of the important people in Cochise County. If that's so, reconcile it with this fact: No Earp was ever elected to public office while in Cochise. Vigil ran at least once for town marshal in Tombstone and was defeated. He did run a respectable race, but he was bested by Ben Sippy. (Ever wonder if the Earps simply got rid of Ben. I never heard of any evidence the Town Council received communication from Ben after he took a leave of absence). Wyatt never got a chance to run for sheriff. That would have been interesting.
There is much here to support an Earp-Clanton faction that eventually split and had a gunfight to culminate the feud. No doubt the Earps won the fight, but there is absolutely no evidence they did it in the name of law and justice. There is more evidence, in my mind, to support the theory it was a parting of the way among thieves. Take into consideration there always have been talk of an Earp- Clanton gang, but no one ever proved it conclusively. I don't believe I have put it together here either, but with Lorenzo Walters' giving an account of what he was told in the 1920s by many area residents that such a gang did exist, there is much circumstantial evidence to conclude it was so. Contrary to popular believe, more than one man has been convicted of a crime due to a lot of circumstantial evidence. The evidence here, in my opinion, is overwhelming. I really believe the confrontation between Doc and Ike in the early morning hours following a card game was due to Ike's treachery in delivering Crane, Head, et al to Wyatt in exchange for reward money. Doc was simply mad about Ike's disloyalty to fellow gang members. Also, it is well-known there was a split between Doc and Wyatt following their departure to Colorado. I believe Doc was just as put out with Wyatt for his treachery in the scheme, i.e. Wyatt wanted to be sheriff of Cochise County. The difference is Doc and Wyatt were close friends, but Wyatt's disloyalty created a rift in the friendship.
Well, that's about it Ike. Hope you aren't bored to tears. By the way, if you desire copies of any of the letters referenced in this missive, please ask me for them and give me a mailing address where they can be sent.
Keep the powder dry pard,
Who was the true leader of the Cowboy gang ? Curly Bill , Ringo or old man Clanton. In the movie Tombstone, it seemed Curly Bill was in charge. Was it Curly Bill who ordered the murder of Morgan Earp and the attempted murder of Virgil Earp? If not Curly Bill then who gave the order ? NYTEAL
You mean the fictional movie "Tombstone" don't you? <grin>
Forget what Hollywood says... Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton ran the cattle empire in southern Arizona from the early 1870's till his death in 1881.
Here's why you were confused...
The actor that played Curly Bill actually had some of "Old Man" Clanton's lines in the movie "Tombstone." That's why it seemed like Curly Bill was in charge! "I'm the founder of the feast" line that Curly Bill delivered was actually written for Old Man Clanton, who's part was simply cut from the movie!
But hey... that ain't so bad, John Ford decided that Frank and Tom McLaury weren't even important enough to put in the movie "My Darling Clementine" <big grin>
Moral of the story... stop believing Hollywood about Tombstone history!
After all of the frustrating trys to have the Earps and Doc Holliday convicted for murdering his two brothers and Billy Clanton, I feel that Will McLaury is the person who ordered the murder of Morgan Earp and the attempted murder of Virgil Earp. Again, this is just my personal feelings, it could have been any of the cowboys supporters. Remember, despict what Hollywood believes, the Earps were NOT we'll liked in Tombstone after the so-called OK Corral gunfight. This question alway's brings great debate, but that's my personal feelings
Thanks for the questions... Ike
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