Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dallas Stoudenmire's Murder


It was the aftermath of the Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight. Having seen their new Marshal in action, the city of El Paso Board of Aldermen upped his salary to $100 a month. 

The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight made Dallas Stoudenmire a legend in his own time, but it would also eventually have deadly consequences for him. Both dead men, former town marshal George Campbell and Johnny Hale had many friends. Many of who weren't happy with the outcome of the shootout.

Dallas Stoudenmire, on the other hand, although his reputation as a gunman would continue to grow with later gunfights, had few friends in El Paso. In such a situation, as sorry as it is to say, the fact remains that town marshal Stoudenmire would eventually stand alone in his own defense of his actions. It was something that was more the case than not, vendettas were common simply because a justified shooting meant very little in towns of the Old West.

James Manning was a friend of Hale and Campbell. James Manning owned a string of saloons with his brothers. Three days after the famous "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" on April 17, 1881, James convinced former deputy Bill Johnson to assassinate Marshal Stoudenmire. Johnson was known to have a profound hatred and grudge against Stoudenmire for publicly humiliating him a few days before. 
 
Marshal Stoudenmire started his tenure in El Paso on Monday, April 11, 1881. He was the sixth town marshal in eight months. The City Council asked him to take the city jail keys from deputy marshal and town drunkard Bill Johnson. Witnesses said that Marshal Stoudenmire approached the intoxicated Johnson asking for the jail keys. Johnson mumbled that he would go home and figure out which keys were his and which were the city's, and Stoudenmire became impatient and demanded that he hand over the keys right away. When Johnson hemmed and hawed about it, Marshal Stoudenmire physically turned Bill Johnson upside down and shook him until the keys fell to the ground. Stoudenmire then threw Johnson to the ground and grabbed up the keys. Johnson was publicly humiliated.

Now very late on the night of April 17, an intoxicated Bill Johnson was squatting down hiding behind a pillar of bricks with a double-barrel shotgun waiting to bushwhack Marshal Stoudenmire.

When Johnson heard the voices of Dallas Stoudenmire and Stoudenmire's brother-in-law, Stanley "Doc" Cummings, his legs started to wobble. He fell backward, accidentally firing both shells into the air, narrowly missed Stoudenmire. Stoudenmire immediately drew and fired his Colts. Believe it or not, of the 8 rounds that are said to have hit Johnson, it's said that Stoudenmire shot off Johnson's testicles. Imagine that! As can be expected, Johnson bled to death within a few minutes.

This started a feud between Stoudenmire and the Manning brothers. The Mannings were from Alabama, and George had studied medicine at the University of Alabama and later in Paris, France. George returned from Europe to join the Confederacy with his brother James. There were four Manning brothers, George, James, Frank, and John. For a time, the Manning brothers joined ex-Confederates in exile in Mexico. They then eventually settled in Texas. Known simply as "Doc," George Manning was hot-tempered and had even once got into a knife fight with a rival doctor.

In 1881, James and his brothers Frank and John reunited near Canutillo, Texas, and started a ranch. That ranch was really a safe house for every outlaw and rustler in the area. It's said that by 1882, James made enough money from rustling to purchase the Coliseum Variety Theatre in El Paso. George "Doc" Manning then joined them.

Dallas Stoudenmire was also from Alabama and also served in the Confederacy. He was one of the nine children of Lewis and Elizabeth Stoudenmire. Shortly after the American Civil War began, Dallas enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy, even though he was only 15 years old. And though he was six feet tall, his officers soon discovered his age and discharged him. He then re-enlisted twice more like the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System Reports a Pvt D. Stoudenmire in Company F of the 17th Alabama Infantry, and a Pvt D. Stowdemire Company C, 6th Alabama Cavalry. Apparently, he was eventually allowed to serve as a Private in Company F, 45th Alabama Infantry Regiment. According to surviving records, by the war's end, he stood 6'4" tall and had been wounded at least twice since he carried at least two bullets in his body for the remainder of his life.

Following the war, Stoudenmire drifted to the SouthWest and served for at least three years with the Texas Rangers. He had a reputation for being handsome, a sharp dresser, and a gentleman around ladies. But when intoxicated, he could be extremely dangerous and had a quick temper. He was known for his habit of wearing two guns and being equally accurate with either hand.

He disappeared from the records between 1874 and 1878, possibly residing in Mexico for a time. He was able to speak Spanish fairly well and is known to have worked during the years immediately after the war as a sheep farmer, a wheelwright, a proprietor of a general store, a merchandiser, and even a carpenter. 

He resurfaced when he served as a Town Marshal for Socorro, New Mexico. While employed there, his brother-in-law and El Paso, Texas, resident Stanley "Doc" Cummings, convinced him to take up a job as town marshal in El Paso. The city was seeking to hire an outsider with a "rough reputation". At that time, El Paso was a remote lawless boomtown.

Stoudenmire traveled to El Paso by stagecoach and was soon hired. This was the beginning of the end of a wild and violent El Paso and the beginning of his fame. Within six days of his having started his job as town marshal, Stoudenmire had killed four men, one accidentally. Between the killing of Bill Johnson and the following February, Marshal Stoudenmire killed another six men in shootouts during arrests and the city's crime rate dropped dramatically. As for Stoudenmire's reputation as both a lawman and a gunman, both increased to legendary status.

On February 14, 1882, James Manning killed "Doc" Cummings, supposedly while acting in self-defense after an earlier argument that evening had escalated. 

Manning claimed that Cummings had pulled his pistol and verbally threatened to kill him outside the saloon when an innocent bystander walked by. Cummings whirled and growled, "Now, are you not one of his friends?"

The bystander squealed his innocence, but Cummings allowed him to go provided that he walked with his arms up in the air into the darkness of night. Cummings then turned and realized that Manning had gone back inside the saloon. Cummings entered and again verbally threatened to kill him. Manning left the bar briefly and appeared in the hallway.

This time Manning was armed with his pistols drawn on Cummings, and snapped, "We will settle this for now and all."

In an instant, gunfire erupted from both sides. Cummings was struck and staggered out across a wooden sidewalk, toppling backward onto the dusty street as he screamed in agony then died.

Manning was acquitted in a trial attended by many friends of the Mannings. This enraged Stoudenmire. And really, it's said that unfortunately for the city of El Paso, his brother-in-law Stanley "Doc" Cummings had been the only man able to confront or control Stoudenmire's fierce temper. 

It was then that Stoudenmire began to publicly confront those responsible for James Manning's acquittal and caused many to avoid coming into town or visiting saloons for fear of running into an enraged Stoudenmire. Despite his prowess and expertise with handguns and his effectiveness as a lawman, Stoudenmire was still an outsider.

He was well respected by the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Marshals. But as for locally, he had several things against him. Stoudenmire was an "outsider" and not from El Paso, had no family there other than his own family and his now deceased brother-in-law "Doc" Cummings. The Mannings, on the other hand, had been in El Paso longer and had many friends in the city government. 

Stoudenmire had only two things in his favor. First, he had dramatically lowered El Paso's violent crime rate more than any who came before him. And second, people truly feared him. In fact, it became fairly apparent fairly quickly that the more people Stoudenmire killed to clean up El Paso, the more people feared him so much that they wanted him either fired or dead.

On May 27, 1882, the town council announced the firing of Stoudenmire. He walked into the council hall, some say half-drunk, and dared them to take his guns or his job. He pulled and twirled his guns and threatened, "I can straddle every God-damned alderman on this council!"

They attempted to calm him by telling him he could keep his job. But after sobering up, Stoudenmire resigned on his own on May 29, 1882. He then became a proprietor of the Globe Restaurant, which belonged to Cummings. But no, that was not the end of his being a lawman. The fact is, Dallas Stoudenmire was then appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal for Western Texas and New Mexico Territory.

For a few short months, Stoudenmire served well as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. But however, the feud was far from over. The Mannings, mainly George "Doc," James, and Frank, were careful to never confront Stoudenmire alone. Despite their hatred of him, he had shown his skill with a gun on several occasions. And that made them weary.

Their fear did not go unnoticed by Stoudenmire, who once mocked them in public while standing outside of a saloon. Stoudenmire is said to have stood defiant in the street, daring them to come outside and fight him. They remained inside a saloon while other residents attempted to convince Stoudenmire to go away and sleep off his intoxication. Eventually, he grew tired, called the Mannings "Cowards," and left.

Drunk and resentful, Dallas Stoudenmire went to the Manning saloon on the morning of September 18, 1882. He confronted three of the Manning brothers, James, Frank, and George, aka "Doc."

Some say on September 18, 1882, Dallas Stoudenmire and Geroge "Doc" Manning met in a local saloon and bellied up to the bar to have a "peace talk" and that James and Frank left soon as Dallas arrived, leaving Doc to talk with him. Others say Dallas Stoudenmire's anger had over-ridden his sense of security, and he walked into an ambush. 

Either way, this time, Stoudenmire was at a disadvantage. It's said he was drunk when an argument started between him and "Doc" Manning. And probably unknown to Stoudenmire, his would-be killer "Doc" Manning already had his hand on a small caliber pistol in his pocket. As for James Manning, some say he was lying in wait nearby, ready to ambush Stoudenmire. Either way, the deck was stacked against Dallas Stoudenmire.

Stoudenmire started off by saying, "Doc, someone or somebody has been going about telling lies...".

George "Doc" Manning replied, "Dallas, you have not kept your word."

"Whoever says I have not tells a damn lie," Stoudenmire roared.

When Manning made a move for a second gun, Stoudenmire went for his pistol, but then George Manning fired twice from the hidden pistol inside his pocket. Stoudenmire's friend tried to push both men, causing Stoudenmire to lose his balance and Doc's bullet hit Stoundenmire in his left arm.
A second-round barely penetrated Stoudenmire's skin because of papers folded heavily in his shirt pocket.

Nevertheless, the second shot, along with being pushed, had knocked Stoudenmire down, and he stumbled through the saloon's batwing doors and into the street. As he fell outside the doorway, believe it or not, Stoudenmire was still able to pull one of his pistols with his right hand and shot "Doc" Manning in the arm.

Some say that Dallas Stoudenmire and George "Doc" Manning got into a fistfight and wrestled in the street for a while. Facts point to Stoudenmire recovering just long enough to shoot Doc Manning through the right arm. That knocked Manning's gun from his grasp.

But Doc Manning, knowing that he was a dead man if Stoudenmire let off another shot, grabbed the wounded Stoudenmire with both arms and wrestled with him. Thus, he pinned Stoudenmire's gun hand to his side. There was a reason he did so.

At that moment, James Manning came out of hiding from behind Stoudenmire. James Manning fired two quick rounds. One hit a barber's pole, and the other hit Dallas Stoudenmire in the head behind his left ear -- killing him instantly.

It was an ambush. James Manning was waiting for Stoudenmire outside and shot twice at the wonded Stoudenmire who was on the ground. It was as if he executed him. The first shot missed and hit a barber pole, and the second hitting Dallas Stoudenmire in the head. As I said before, killing him instantly.

To show you how mean and nasty George Manning was, it's said that after James had shot Stoudenmire in the head - Geroge grabbed a gun and began pistol whipping the dead Stoudenmire.



Dallas Stoudenmire had the barrel of this 1860 Colt Army revolver sawedoff so the gun could be concealed. The Colt was retrieved from the El Paso street where Stoudenmire was killed in a shootout on September 18, 1882

A funeral ceremony for Dallas Stoudenmire was held at El Paso's Masonic Lodge #130. His wife Isabella then had his body shipped to Columbus, Texas, for burial. All funeral expenses were paid for by the Masonic Lodge. According to the website Find A Grave, Stoudenmire is buried in the Alleyton Cemetery in Colorado County, Texas.

James Manning was tried for murder, but believe it or not, he was acquitted. Yes, even back then, if you had money and influence - you could get away with murder. Of course, it also helped that the whole jury was made up of Manning's friends.

The Mannings continued to live in El Paso. It is ironic that when Assistant City Marshal Thomas Moad was killed while investigating a disturbance at a local brothel on July 11, 1883, believe it or not, Frank Manning was appointed to replace him.

Frank Manning only kept the job temporarily because everyone learned that he never arrested friends and acquaintances, even if they were caught dead to rights. Frank Manning died in an insane asylum.

As for James Manning? Everyone saw him shoot Stoudenmire in the back of the head. The fallout from the killing of Dallas Stoudenmire in that manner made El Paso an uncomfortable place for James Manning, even though he had a lot of friends there. Because of that, James Manning relocated to Seattle, Washington, and bought a saloon there. When the saloon was destroyed in a fire, James Manning moved to the Los Angeles area and became an investor in mining properties near Parker, Arizona. James Manning is said to have died in Los Angeles after suffering from cancer for a very long time. James Manning was destitute, alone, and ravaged by cancer when he died.

After being shunned by locals who weren't of the criminal ilk, George "Doc" Manning resumed his medical practice near Flagstaff, Arizona. Like his brother James, he too died pennyless in 1925. He is buried in the Citizens Cemetery in Flagstaff.

While it is said that the killing of Dallas Stoudenmire was soon all but forgotten, the legend of Dallas Stoudenmire grew and lives on today. He was born on December 11, 1845, and died on September 18, 1882. He became the City Marshal of El Paso on Monday, April 11, 1881. He was the sixth town marshal in eight months. City Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire has been credited for successfully taming one of the most violent towns in the Old West. The man who tamed El Paso, Texas, gained fame for a brief gunfight that was later dubbed the "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight."

Today, he is known for being an American Old West gunfighter and lawman. To their credit, the El Paso Police Department acknowledges and pays tribute to the legendary Marshal Stoudenmire for his accomplishment.

Although lesser known than many other Old West gunfighters today, unlike Wyatt Earp, Dallas Stoudenmire really was a well-known legend in his own time. He had a deadly reputation in his day and was involved in more gunfights in his time as a lawman than most of his better-known contemporaries.

As far as lawmen go, very few could match him.


In May 2001, Dallas Stoudenmire's Smith & Wesson American, serial number 7056, sold at auction for $143,000. His El Paso city marshal's badge sold for $44,000 in a separate lot.

Tom Correa


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