March 17, 2010
Working on a Classic Gunfight that I thought would be a slam dunk, since I covered it in CGII, our second volume of Classic Gunfights, which featured the 25 gunfights behind the O.K. Corral. On the so-called vendetta ride by Wyatt Earp, his men shot and killed one Florentino Cruz. I had a decent narrative of the actual killing, but then last night, as I cross referenced the event with noted Earp experts, Tefertiller, Barra, Gatto and Fattig, well, it got sticky:
According to Fattig, Wyatt sent two of his men, Smith and Tipton into Tombstone to get $1,000 in posse operating expenses from mining magnate E.B. Gage, then Smith sent two "agents" "Whistling Dick" Wright and Tony Kraker (a singer!) to deliver the money to Earp at Iron Springs. They got there ahead of Earp's party and stopped to chat with "a dozen cowboys" at the spring, and feigning ignorance of why they were actually there, they departed, riding back to Tombstone. Then, according to Fattig, they give the $1K back to Smith, who has no idea where Wyatt is so he gives the money back to Gage! Wyatt never got the money from Gage? Is this true?
Also, a deputy sheriff William Bell (no relation) arrived in Tombstone from Charleston in charge of prisoner Indian Charlie (Hank Swilling). Charlie allegedly shot a man in Charleston and shot out the lights. And, separately, Deputy Sheriff Frank Hereford arrested John Doe Freeze (sic Freis, who is actually a German teamster Frederick Bode). Meanwhile, Spencer had given himself up to Behan and is in jail, right? So, that means three of the defendants in Morgan's murder are in the Tombstone jail, while Earp is riding around Cochise County looking for these very men. Amazing.
The coroner's report, based on the testimony of Marietta Spencer (then why does she say in her testimony, "am the wife of Peter Spence"?) and she clearly accuses her husband of being one of the killers of Morgan, but yet Wyatt later claims Spencer was against us, but did not kill my brother, or words to that effect. What's up with that?
The conclusion to the coroner's jury reports that "Morgan Earp, a native of Iowa. . .came to his death . . .by reason of a gunshot or pistol wound, inflicted at the hands of Pete Spence (sic), Frank Stilwell, a party by the name of Freis, and two Indian half breeds, one whose name is Charlie, but the name of the other was not ascertained. . ."
Fattig maintains Florentino Cruz is actually Manuel Acusto and that Frederick Bode lives with Manuel at his home in Tombstone. Now, who in the hell is the real Indian Charlie and for that matter, who is Florentino Cruz, really? Man, what a confusing mess.
Got these answers from Mark Boardman this morning:
I'll try to help.
Yes, Smith and co. got the money from Gage. The other sources I've checked indicate that Wyatt got the money (and may have gotten another $1000 from others).
Hank Swilling is sometimes called Indian Hank or Apache Hank, and was a half-breed bastard son of Jack Swilling. As far as I know, he's never been identified as being Indian Charlie by pro or anti Earp writers/researchers. Fattig says the cowboys called Swilling Indian Charlie, but his source is a woman who was trying to remember things 50 years after the fact. And I've rarely seen anybody give her account much creedence. Swilling was seen by folks after Cruz was killed...so they can't be one and the same.
In fact, in an 1893 interview with the Denver Republican, Wyatt claimed that he killed both Indian Charlie/Cruz and Hank Swilling in separate incidents. Again, most folks think Wyatt was blowing hot air on that one. Like coming back to kill Ringo.
I think it is known that Swilling, Freis and Spencer were taken into custody--all by Behan's men. They were conveniently allowed to leave after the Earps had left the area.
Marietta Spencer (or Spence, as many people called Pete...of course, Pete's real name was Elliott Larkin "Lark" Ferguson) did say that her husband was one of Morgan's killers. But she had an axe to grind--Pete beat on her and her mother pretty regularly, and a fair number of folks believed she was out to get him. That group came to include Wyatt. Barra agrees that Spence was probably an accomplice to Morgan's killing but not the triggerman.
The coroner's report does mention two half-breeds. One was Swilling. Barra and co. say the other was Florentino Cruz, also known as Indian Charlie.
Is it absolutely, 100% proven that Cruz was Indian Charlie? No. But I think the evidence from that time indicates that they were one and the same. There's really no evidence otherwise.
And you thought this would be a "quickie" CG....
Too true for school Mark. Thanks.
And here is another Bob Stinson installment of Babes On Graves:
This is the same model. Debbie Dayton at Doc Holliday's grave in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Haunting, no?
"This is funny."
—Doc Holliday's final words
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