July 30, 2023
We are working on the October issue. We're going to celebrate the movie "Tombstone" at the 30 year mark. We are asking our contributing editors and writers this question: What makes "Tombstone" such a good Western?" And, so, I am asking you. What do you think?
Meanwhile, I am excerpting three takeaways from the Tombstone story from my three books on the subject. The first is a good hard look at the Cow-boys (for several years at the magazine we styled it with a hyphen just like the newspapers of the era did). Were they as bad as the Earp legend claims? Or, did they have more in common than not?
The Cow-boys of Cochise County
After escaping jail in Ysleta, Texas, Curly Bill Brocius and Bob "Dutch" Martin steal their way westward and land in the Bootheel of New Mexico.
They are not alone.
Since the early 1870s, after the Apaches were moved onto the San Carlos Reservation, enterprising cattlemen like John Chisum began to drive herds of cattle into Arizona to feed both the Indians and the soldiers brought in to keep them corralled. These large cattle herds brought with them a few cow-boys who stayed on to carve out a piece of the business for themselves.
Numerous other renegades from west Texas and New Mexico were either forced out or chose to move farther away from the law to this virtual outlaw haven.
Curly Bill, Martin and the Clantons are some of the cow-boys attracted to the lush grasslands (old-timers in the Animas Valley tell of the groundwater being less than two feet under the surface near the Lang Ranch). Curly Bill ends up establishing the famous Gray Ranch, still in existence in the 21st century.
The outlaws particularly enjoy the haven's close proximity to two borders and three jurisdictions (New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico). Plus, the bootheel is about as far from New Mexico officials and the law as one can get.
Daily Whip Out:
"Curly Bill On The Galeyville Trail?"
John D. Gilchriese
And, how he ended up finding this gravesite.
"You're a pious sort of man. I've been told, but I want to test it. You just naturally think of the savior while my bazoo [gun] works and at the same time pay a little attention to me."
—Curly Bill, fresh out of jail in Tucson, interrupting a church service four miles from Charleston and forcing the pastor to dance in front of his congregation