Author Topic: Tombstone  (Read 16070 times)


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Re: Tombstone
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2012, 10:18:18 AM »
Johnny Ringo is an interesting character.
His death remains one of the mysteries of the old West


Louis L'Amour wrote that he had found nothing in Old West history to commend John Ringo as a particularly noteworthy "badman". According to L'Amour, Ringo was a surly, bad-tempered man who was worse when he was drinking, and that his main claim to fame was shooting the unarmed Louis Hancock in an Arizona territory saloon in 1879 for ordering beer after Ringo told him to order whiskey. L'Amour wrote that he did not understand how Ringo earned such a strong reputation as a "bad man" in legend. Other authors have concluded that perhaps Ringo's memorable name, coupled with his confrontations with the canonically "good" Earp brothers, contributed to his latter-day reputation.

Death in Turkey Creek Canyon

On July 14, 1882, Johnny Ringo was found dead in the crotch of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley, near Chiricahua Peak, with a bullet hole in his right temple and an exit wound at the back of his head.

A single shot had been heard by a neighbor late in the evening the day before on July 13. The property owner found Ringo sitting on the low-leaning trunk and fork of a large tree by the river (a fallen trunk next to which Ringo is now buried). Ringo's revolver had one round expended and was found hanging by one finger in his hand. His feet were wrapped in pieces of his undershirt. His horse was found two weeks later, Ringo's boots tied to the saddle of his horse, a common method to keep scorpions out of boots. After an inquest, the coroner found that death had been caused by a single shot through the head, and Ringo's death was officially ruled a suicide.

Johnny Ringo is buried close to where his body was found in West Turkey Creek Canyon (31°51′49″N 109°20′16″W) at the base of the tree in which he was found, which fell around 2010. The grave is located on private land and is not publicly accessible.
[edit] Theories of Ringo's death

Many people have been put forth as Ringo's murderer, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, O'Rourke, and Buckskin Frank Leslie.

The book, I Married Wyatt Earp, supposedly written by Josephine Marcus Earp, reported that Wyatt Earp and Holliday returned to Arizona to find and kill Ringo. Edited by Glen Boyer, the book claims that Holliday killed Ringo with a rifle shot at a distance, contradicting the coroner's ruling that Ringo's death was a suicide. However, Boyer's book has been discredited as a fraud and a hoax[10] that cannot be relied on.[11]:154 In response to criticism about the book's authenticity, Boyer said the book was not really a first-person account, that he had interpreted Wyatt Earp in Josephine's voice, and admitted that he couldn't produce any documents to vindicate his methods.[12] Holliday was fighting a court case in Colorado at the time of Ringo's death. Official records of the District Court of Pueblo County, Colorado indicate that both Doc and his attorney appeared in court there on July 11, 14, and 18, 1882, which, if true, would make it impossible for Holliday to have killed Ringo. Author Karen Holliday Tanner, in Doc Holliday, A Family Portrait, speculated that Doc may not have been in Pueblo at the time of the court date, citing a writ of habeas corpus issued for him in court on July 11. She believes that only his attorney may have appeared on his behalf that day, in spite of the wording of a court record that indicated he may have appeared in person—in propria persona or "in his own person". She cites this as standard legal filler text that does necessarily prove the person was present. There is no doubt that Holliday arrived in Salida, Colorado on July 7 as reported in a town newspaper. This is 500 miles (800 km) from the site of Ringo's death, six days before the shooting.

One theory that supports the coroner's finding that Ringo committed suicide is that a few weeks before Ringo's death, a large fire in Tombstone had wiped out most of the downtown area. The silver mines were producing less, and demand for beef was down. Many of Ringo's friends were gone, while his way of life was quickly becoming a thing of the past. Ringo was depressed after being rejected by his remaining family members in California and the recent deaths of his outlaw friends. Stoked by a period of binge drinking, Ringo was preparing to camp in an isolated spot, far from the city. He tied his boots to his saddle, a common practice in Arizona to keep scorpions out of them, but the horse got loose from his picket and ran off. Ringo tied pieces of his undershirt to his feet to protect them (these were found on his body and noted by the inquest), and crawled into the fork of a large tree to spend the night. As evening came on, despondent over his overall state, Ringo shot himself.[citation needed]

Fred Dodge, a Wells, Fargo & Co. undercover agent, attributed Ringo's killing to Mike O'Rourke. A gambler, O'Rourke had been arrested for murdering Henry Schneider. Curly Bill Brocius and John Ringo encouraged talk of a lynching and led other men who pursued the wagon carrying O'Rourke. McKelvey got to the outskirts of Tombstone and the Last Chance Saloon just ahead of the mob where he was met by Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp,[13] and was escorted to jail in Tucson, where escaped. He held onto a burning rage toward Ringo and Curly Bill, and according to a conversation Dodge had with Frank Leslie, O'Rourke learned in July, 1882 that Ringo and Buckskin Frank Leslie were camping in the Turkey Creek Canyon area. O'Rourke knew that Ringo had been drinking heavily for the last week and made camp in the same area. On July 14 allegedly found Ringo sleeping off his liquor and killed him, arranging the body to look like a suicide.[13] The story had enough credibility that many believed, including Ringo's close friend Pony Diehl, it to be true.[13] O'Rourke was killed shortly after being caught cheating at cards.[citation needed]

Others[who?] believe Buckskin Frank Leslie killed Ringo. Leslie found Ringo drunk and asleep at a tree. Hoping to curry favor with Earp supporters in office, he shot Ringo through the head. Billy Claiborne believed Leslie killed Ringo, and it was said that his fatal shootout with Leslie was due to this fact. However, in reality Claiborne was demanding that Leslie refer to him as "Billy the Kid", and when Leslie refused Claiborne challenged him. Claiborne was shot through the right side, the bullet exiting out his back, and died hours later. His last words were supposedly "Frank Leslie killed John Ringo. I saw him do it", another claim that has no evidence to support it


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