Friday, May 31, 2013

The Truth About the Bisbee Massacre Reward Money

May 31, 2013
   I really enjoy working with researchers who know their stuff, or, more accurately, know how to find the best evidence if they don't know. Doug Hocking knows the so-called Bisbee Massacre where five Clifton cowboys robbed the Goldwater-Castenada Store in December of 1883 and in the process shot and killed five people, including a pregnant woman.

    Who was firing from where and which way they rode is difficult to decipher but Doug gave me and Gus Walker great directions, showing where the stores were on Main Street and who fell where. Thanks to Doug we were able to track the narrative as good as can be expected this late in the game. With Doug's maps, photos and street diagrams Gus Walker was able to create his distinctive styled maps (3) for the robbery, the chase and the capture of the five outlaws (two of them fled deep into Mexico and were still captured), providing one of the best narratives of a very complicated gunfight. In fact, I have avoided doing it for the past decade because I knew it would be a bear to wrangle into four pages.

   Yesterday, Meghan Saar did her usual exemplary fact-checking (we went with Heath, instead of the oft used spelling of Heith) and by about four in the afternoon we had the entire thing shoe-horned in, but earlier in the day I sent Doug an email inquiry, asking what happened to all the reward money? A reported $15,000 was raised, much of it from the Copper Queen Mine and other mining companies and officials. Doug sent me an email informing me he would be going straight away to the county records to see if he could find anything.

Late yesterday afternoon, as Robert Ray was patiently waiting for the final proofs on the magazine to upload the first 72 pages to Kansas City in order to meet our printing deadline, I got back some pretty amazing, late breaking information from Doug:

From the Minutes of the County Board and the Book of Warrants:
  In December 1883, shortly after the Massacre the County Supervisors voted a reward of $2500 for arrest and conviction of the five to be issued at $500 for each of the five holdup men. (This argues strongly that there were only five robbers, not six).

On February 28, 1884, the board issued warrants (authorizing the treasurer to pay) the following:

 JC. Ward, Sheriff, $500 for Kelly

 JC. Ward, $500 for Wm. Delaney

 AG. Hill, Deputy, $500 for Howard

 AG. Hill, $500 for OW. Sample

 WA. Daniels, Deputy, $500 for Dan Dowd

   The warrants were redeemed almost a year later with $40 in interest by Wells Fargo and Ben Williams. It appears that they paid the sheriff and deputies and had to wait a year to get paid by the county.

   Whether this was a separate and distinct reward from the $15,000 Parsons described, I don’t know. Subscription began at the same time the county voted on the reward in December. Parsons collected against subscription on behalf of the county treasurer five days before the payouts were made, that is, right after the trial. $500 per head seems a lot more reasonable than $3000. Perhaps Parsons memory in 1901 was faulty. If they took $7500 in subscriptions and were able to collect $3200, that sounds reasonable.

 Anyway, it seems a barber in Deming, an ex-girlfriend in Clifton, and two Rurales in Sonora got stiffed.
—Doug Hocking

Doug is referring to the fact that handbills were widely circulated throughout the Southwest and Mexico describing the jewelry stolen and the names and descriptions of the outlaws and a substantial reward (Parsons says $15,000 was raised, which would be $3,000 for each outlaw, but as we can see from the records Doug was able to uncover, the actual amount was apparently $500 per outlaw). A barber in Deming, New Mexico recognized one of the outlaws when he came in for a shave and alerted the authorities. You'd think he would get a reward but evidently he did not. Another outlaw had a girfriend in Clifton who turned him in and she didn't get anything, and then the Rurales, or Mexican police, in Mexico recognized one of the outlaws in their jail, kept him on trumped up charges until a U.S. deputy could come down and return him, and they were stiffed as well.

This happened all over the west. Eight years before this robbery, the James Gang had rewards on their heads for $10,000 and the money actually paid out to Robert Ford was a fraction of that (I want to say $1,300). Pat Garrett never got his reward money for bagging Billy the Kid (However, he got subscription money raised by various New Mexico towns to thank him for his service, and it should be noted these amounts were much higher than the $500 reward offered by Lew Wallace). The Madelia Seven who bagged the Youngers at Hanska Slough got a couple hundred dollars (even though there were wanted posters declaring thousands of dollars in reward money for the capture, dead or alive, of the Northfield robbers). Yes, the railroads, banks and mining companies would offer huge rewards, then duck when it came time to pay.

   Nice to know, some things haven't changed.

   Anyway, to my knowledge, no one has ever published anything about the reward money paid out in the Bisbee Massacre and we have Doug to thank for digging it up. Good work, Mr. Hocking! The issue with this Classic Gunfight will be landing in your mailbox in about three weeks. Going to be a good one.

    Doug's book, Massacre at Point of Rocks, is available on Amazon, and from in all eBook formats. He has stories in Outlaws and Lawmen and Dead or Alive from La Frontera and they are also available. He’ll be signing books at Atalanta Music and Books in Bisbee on the Fourth of July from 10 a.m. to 5. And he's doing two historical presentations, the first at 10 a.m. for children, at the Hank Hauser Museum in Sierra Vista and signing books afterward on Saturday, July 20.

   I'm also working with the legendary music historian Johnny D on a new True West Moment about the Arizona dudes who created guitar twang by utilizing an empty water tank.

Did another Sharpie drawing of Duane Eddy twang leading to more twangsters:

"The Three Twangsters"

I am speaking at a local high school graduation commencement tonight. Guess I should start writing what I'm going to say.

"The trouble is, you think you have time."