Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- VI

The inquest into the shootings concluded that the three cowboys met their deaths by gunshot wounds.


The Tombstone Nugget recorded this sarcastic article.

Glad to Know

The people of the community are deeply indebtyed to the twelcve intelligent men who composed the coroners (sic) jury for the valuable information that the three persons who were killed last Wednesday were shot. Some thirty or forty shots were fired, and the whole affair was witnessed by perhaps a dozen people, and we have a faint recollection of hearing someone say the dead men were shot, but people are liable to be mistaken and the verdict reassures us. We might have thought they had been struck by lightning or stung to death by hornets and we never could have told whether they were in the way of the lightning or the lightning was in their way.

Now listen to this.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of the Earps and Doc Holliday on the charge of murder. A hearing was held before Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer. It lasted for a month, and several witnesses testified that Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were unarmed and that Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury were mortally wounded before they drew their pistols.

Wells Spicer

Still, Justice Spicer’s “opinion” was that the Earps acted in self defense. He sent on to say, however, that Virgil Earp “committed an injudicious and censurable act” in calling upon Wyatt Earp and J. H. Holliday to assist him in arresting and disarming the Clantons and McLaurys.

Then, Virgil Earp was wounded from ambush, and Wyatt went on a rampage in January 1882.


  1. Wasn't brother Morgan shot dead before that rampage?

  2. This is a GREAT series you're doing. You thinking of using these guys in a novel?

  3. Virgil was maimed by three shotgun blasts, losing 5" of humerus from his left arm. The suspected shooters were later identified as Phin Clanton, Ike Clanton, Johnny Barnes, Johnny Ringo, Hank Swilling and Pete Spence. Ike Clanton's hat was found near the shooting. Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp sought and received warrants for Ike and Phin Clanton and Pony Diehl from Judge William H. Stilwell but could not locate them. They later turned themselves in or were arrested. On January 31, Ike and Phin were brought before Judge William H. Stilwell on suspicion of shooting Virgil. The judge released both men on $1,500 bond, indicating he thought the prosecution's case was weak. On February 2, 1882, Clanton's attorney brought in seven witnesses who testified that Clanton was in Charleston at the time of Virgil's shooting. Ike was acquitted and released.

    When Morgan was assassinated in March, Pete Spence's wife Marietta Duarte testified during the coroner’s inquest that her husband, Frank Stilwell, Frederick Bode, Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz, and an unnamed half-breed Indian had turned up at her home an hour after the shooting, and that Spence threatened violence if she told what she knew. The five men were named as suspects in Morgan Earp's assassination and the coroner's jury issued warrants for their arrest. At the trial, her testimony was disallowed because she could not testify against her husband.

    Virgil's suspected shooters and Morgan's assassins were free. Wyatt concluded the only justice he would receive was at the point of his own gun.