1881 – Tombstone-Benson stage robbery thwarted

The Tombstone-Benson stage.

By SoAzNewsX

March 15
1875- Lincoln, New Mexico Territory- A.A. McSween and his wife, Susan, arrive in town and later become major players in the Lincoln County War.

1878- Prescott, Arizona Territory- a soldier convicted of murder is hanged.

1881- Arizona Territory– Gunmen failed in their bloody attempt to rob the Tombstone-Benson stagecoach, part of the continuing flap between Sheriff Behan and the Earps.

1881- Abilene, Texas- the town is established by the Texas and Pacific Railroad and west Texas cattlemen.

1881- New Mexico Territory- a San Miguel County grand jury indicts William Bonney for cattle rustling.

1883- Cheyenne, Wyoming- Lillie Langtry, the object of Judge Roy Beans affections down in Texas, played at the Cheyenne Opera House.

1916- U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing launched a punitive expedition into Mexico to capture Villa dead or alive.


March 16
1861- Arizona Territory votes to leave the Union.

1861- Texas- Sam Houston resigns the governorship of Texas over the state’s secession.

1874- Missouri-while riding through the woods near Osceola, John Younger died in a gunfight when he and his brother Jim fought lawmen/Pinkertons near Monegaw Springs.

1881- Tombstone, Arizona Territory- a posse is organized to find the suspected Tombstone stage robbers Bill Leonard, Harry Head, and Jim Crane. Members include Buckskin Frank Leslie, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp.

Judge Roy Bean

1903- Langtry, Texas– Judge Roy Bean, the only “Law West of the Pecos” died on this date. Bean had gone into San Antonio on Mar. 15, 1903, where he witnessed a cockfight in the Mexican quarter. So aroused by the blood sport was he that he went on an extended bender and was taken back to his shack in Langtry in an almost comatose state. He lingered in his back room for some hours, unable to recognize his own son, Sam, who had ridden a horse to death to get to his father’s deathbed.

1916- after the raid on Columbus New Mexico on March 9th General “Black Jack” Pershing led the search for Pancho Villa leading American troops some 400 miles into Mexico, as far south as the city of Parral where, after a skirmish, they turned back to bases in northern Mexico. For 11 months, the 10,000 soldiers of Pershing’s Punitive Expedition endured parching heat and bone-chilling cold as they ranged the wild deserts and mountains of the vast state of Chihuahua, tracking the Villista raiders. The Punitive Expedition was the last true cavalry action mounted by the U.S. Army, and, ironically, was also the first U.S. military operation to employ mechanized vehicles. In what would prove to be a preparation for World War I, Pershing experimented in Mexico with the use of automobiles, trucks, and airplanes, though fuel for those new-fangled machines often had to be transported on pack mules.

1955- The Ballad of Davy Crockett, by Bill Hayes, reached the number one spot on the pop music charts and stayed for five weeks beginning this day. The smash hit song sold more than 7,000,000 records on more than 20 different labels. Everyone seemed to be singing the song that saluted the frontier hero who was “Born on a mountain top in Tennessee…” Coonskin caps were seen everywhere as the Crockett craze spread like a frontier fire.


March 17
1865- Montana Territory- the Montana Post reports: “Only 22 sacks of flour in Silver Bow City, roads near impassable; 2 to 12 feet of snow in Deer Lodge.

1876 – Dakota Territory- the Battle of Powder River takes place. Some of Gen. George Crook’s troops led by Col. Joseph Reynolds attack the camp of Two Moon’s Cheyenne and He Dog’s Sioux, both of which were peaceful. For unknown reasons Reynolds soon withdrew with 800 of the Indians’ horses, allowing most of the Indians themselves to escape. Warriors led by Crazy Horse soon recovered the horses. Four soldiers were killed. Gen. Crook, furious, orders the troops back to Ft. Fetterman. In private, Reynolds swears to Gen. Crook that he was not in command during the Battle of Powder River. He claims that an Indian covered in warpaint broke into his tent the night before, tied him up, and then assumed his shape! By the time that Reynolds got free, the imposter had already done his damage and fled. Crook orders Reynolds imprisoned in an insane asylum.

1876- Montana Territory- 6 settlers have been killed and 8 wounded in Indian attacks near Fort Pease since February 22.

1879- New Mexico Territory – Governor Lew Wallace meets with Billy the Kid promising that if he surrendered and testified against Matthews and the others in the Chapman killing he would receive a full pardon. Billy said he did not like the idea of surrendering; it would appear that he was a coward. Part of the bargain the Kid made with Governor Wallace was to stand trial for the murder of Brady and Hindman.

Morgan Earp

1882- Tombstone, Arizona Territory– Lawman Morgan Earp was shot in the back while playing pool in Bob Hatch’s billiards saloon late at night. He died a few minutes after midnight the next day (a few minutes later). Florentine Cruz, Mexican-Indian half-breed, a hanger on of the Clanton’s & Curly Bill (it was said Cruz took nearly as long to pull a gun as he did to pull his pants on), was used by the outlaws around Tombstone when no one else was available. On this date he was employed by the gunman who murdered Morgan Earp.

1883- Arizona Territory- a Wells Fargo box is taken in a stage robbery between Maricopa and Prescott.

1896-. Crawford Goldsby, an Oklahoma outlaw better known as Cherokee Bill, was hung by order of Judge Parker on this date. Judge Parker characterized Bill as a “bloodthirsty mad dog who killed for the love of killing” and as “the most vicious” of all the outlaws in the Oklahoma Territory. Crawford was born at Fort Concho, Texas, on February 8, 1876. He murdered at least seven people and may have killed as many as thirteen. Certainly by the time he reached eighteen he had joined the Bill Cook gang in bank and train robberies. Bill later formed his own gang and also rode with other outlaws like Henry Starr.


March 18
1852- California- Wells Fargo, a subsidiary of American Express, began operations in the gold fields.

1859- West Point- Cadet George A. Custer receives two demerits for throwing food in the mess hall.

1878-Texas- Sam Bass and his gang rob the Houston and Texas at Hutchins. Heck Thomas, noted lawman, was serving as an express agent at the time, managed to hide $20,000 before a bullet from one of the outlaws wounded him in the face forcing him to surrender.

1879- New Mexico Territory- William Campbell and Jesse Evans escape from Fort Sutton.

Southern Pacific locomotive on display at the Tucson Amtrak station.

1880- Arizona Territory– the Southern Pacific Railroad of Arizona and New Mexico is completed to Tucson, where it connects with the San Francisco and Pacific systems.

1882- Morgan Earp died a few minutes after midnight, on the 18th, having been shot in the back while playing billiards a few minutes before midnight on the 17th.

1882- New Mexico Territory- Pat Garrett finally collects the $500 reward for killing Billy the Kid.

1883- Cheyenne, Wyoming- the Cheyenne Daily Leader reports the total of executions in Cheyenne is 37 by the “gunny-sack brigade” and 2 by legal authorities.

1886- Cheyenne, Wyoming- Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, played the title role in Hamlet.

1911- Smiley (Lester Alvin) Burnette was born. Actor: Western Double Features, Gene Autry Matinee Double Features, Dick Tracy: The Original Serial, King of the Cowboys, Springtime in the Rockies, Silver Spurs; passed away Feb 16, 1967.


March 19
1848- Monmouth, Illinois -Wyatt Earp was born. He later became a buffalo hunter, noted lawman, and businessman. Passed away Jan 13, 1929.

In Without Knocking – Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) | Amon Carter Museum of American Art

1864 – Charles Marion Russell was born, artist: known for his paintings of the American cowboy; passed away in 1926.

1868- Dakota Territory- Crazy Horse attacks the Horsecreek Station.

1873- Arizona Territory- Fort Lowell is created by the Tucson Garrison.

1873- Lampasas, Texas- Texas Ranger Captain Thomas Williams, accompanied by three officers to arrest Clinton Barkley, a Texas gunman who was wanted for murder, entered Jerry Scott’s Matador Saloon, knowing Barkley and the Horrells (Barkley’s brother-in-laws) were inside. The minute Williams and his men stepped through the swinging doors, Barkley, Martin, Tom, and Sam Horrell, along with saloon owner Scott, opened fire with their six-guns. Williams and two of his men dropped to the floor dead while the third deputy returned fire as he backed out of the saloon, his shots wounding Martin and Tom Horrell.

1875- San Jose, California- outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez was hanged for the murders committed during the “Tres Pinos Massacre” on August 23, 1873. He is believed to have killed as many as 42 men.

1879 – Texas- Jim Currie opens fire on the actors Maurice Barrymore and Ben Porter near Marshall. His shots wound Barrymore and kill Porter.

1888- Arizona Territory- three guards from the Vulture Mine are robbed and murdered en route to Phoenix. Gold bars were reported missing.


March 20
1868- Russellville, Kentucky- Jesse and Frank James and Cole and Jim Younger, along with four other men, rob the Southern Bank of Kentucky. Frank used the alias Frank Colburn, pretending to

Statue of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp at the Tucson Amtrak station

be a cattle buyer from Louisville. The gang rode off with about $14,000.


1879- New Mexico Territory- Governor Lew Wallace receives message from William Bonney asking whether the escape of Campbell and Evans will change their agreement made on the 17th. Wallace answered that the escape made no difference in the arrangements.

1880- Tucson, Arizona Territory- the first Southern Pacific train arrives in town with much fanfare.

1882- Tucson, Arizona Territory – the train bearing the remains of Morgan Earp and carrying Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Warren Earp paused at Tucson on its way to Colton, California. Shots were heard in the train yard and the next day the body of Frank Stilwell, member of the Clanton gang, was found with 4 rifle balls and two loads of buckshot in him.


March 21
1852- Griffin, Georgia- the infant John Henry Holliday, AKA Doc Holliday, was baptized. He was probably a couple of months old.

1879- New Mexico Territory- per the agreement with Governor Lew Wallace, William Bonney and Josiah “Doc” Skurlock surrender to Lincoln County sheriff George Kimball, near San Patrice.

1882- Tucson, Arizona Territory – the body of Frank Stilwell, a Texas cowboy and member of the Clanton gang was found dead in the Southern Pacific Railroad yard with 4 rifle balls and two loads

of buckshot in him. This happened to be within 72 hours of Morgan Earp’s assassination and the night after a train bearing the remains of Morgan Earp and carrying Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Warren Earp paused at Tucson on its way to Colton, California.

George Crook, Major General, United States Army

1883- Arizona Territory- four settlers are reported killed in an Apache raid 12 miles southwest of Fort Huachuca, near Tombstone. General George Crook learned that the raid was lead by Chato, Chihvahua, and Bonito, and makes plans to follow them into Mexico.

1890– General Crook, 61, died of heart failure while lifting weights. William Tecumseh Sherman called him “the greatest Indian fighter and manager the army of the United States ever had.” Red Cloud said, “He, at least, never lied to us.” Crook had spent his last years campaigning for Indian rights.

1891 – A Hatfield marries a McCoy, ends long feud in West Virginia it started with an accusation of pig stealing & lasted 20 years.

1916- Cole Younger was the last of the James-Younger gang to die, suffering a heart attack.



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