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.

And yes, 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, he had few friends in El Paso.

In such a situation, as sorry as it is say, the fact remains that eventually town marshal Stoudenmire would 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. 

Three days after the gunfight, on April 17th, 1881, James Manning, who besides being a friend of Hale and Campbell owned a string of saloons with his brothers, 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 11th, 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.

But 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 he hand over the keys right away.

When Johnson hemmed and hawed about it, Marshal Stoudenmire physically turned Bill Johnson upside down and shock up 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 17th, 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 and he fell backward accidentally firing both shells into the air which narrowly missed Stoudenmire.

Stoudenmire immediately drew and fired his Colts sending eight rounds into Johnson.

Believe it or not, it's said that Stoudenmire shot off Johnson's testicles. Imagine that!

Johnson quickly 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 TX and started a ranch, which was really a safe house for every outlaw and rustler in the area.

By 1882, James made enough money from "ranching" 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.

He was six feet tall, but his officers soon discovered his age and discharged him. He then re-enlisted twice more as 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.

So apparently he was eventually allowed to serve as a private in Company F, 45th Alabama Infantry Regiment. According to surviving records, he stood 6'4" tall by the war's end and was wounded numerous times.

He carried two bullets in his body for the remainder of his life.

Following the war, Stoudenmire drifted west 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, wheelwright, proprietor, merchandiser and 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.

Stoudenmire's reputation, as both a lawman and a gunman, increased his 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.

Hit, Cummings 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 a large number of local residents who were friends of the Mannings.

This enraged Stoudenmire.

Unfortunately for 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 general population as well as in high places in the city government.

Stoudenmire had only two things in his favor; he had dramatically lowered El Paso's violent crime rate more than any who came before him, and people truly feared him.

It seemed that the more people Stoudenmire killed in an effort to clean up El Paso, the more people wanted him either fired or dead.

On May 27th, 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 29th, 1882 and became a proprietor of the Globe Restaurant, which had formerly belonged to Cummings.

That was not the end of his being a lawman. 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 this made them wary.

On one instance, while standing out in the street, Stoudenmire mocked them, 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 18th, 1882. There, he confronted three of the Manning brothers - James, Frank, and George aka "Doc."

Some say on September 18th, 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.

Stoudenmire probably didn't know that his would-be killer "Doc" Manning already had his hand on a small caliber pistol in his pocket.

James Manning was not there. Some say he was lying in wait nearby ready to ambush Stoudenmire.

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

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

"Who ever 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.

But nonetheless, the second shot and being pushed knocked Stoudenmire down 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 actually got into a fist fight and wrestled in the street for awhile.

Facts point to Stoudenmire recovering long enough to shoot the little doctor through the right arm, knocking his gun from his grasp.

But "Doc" Manning, knowing he was dead man if Stoudenmire let off another shot, embraced the wounded giant with both arms, pinning his gun hand to his side.

That was when James Manning came from behind Stoudenmire and fired two quick rounds. One hit a barber's pole, and the other hit Stoudenmire in the head behind his left ear - killing him instantly.

Yes, I believe it was an ambush.

James Manning, as if executing him, was waiting for Stoudenmire outside and shot twice at the wonded Stoudenmire who was on the ground.

The first shot missing and hitting a barber pole and the second hitting Dallas Stoudenmire in the head - 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 man.

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 was acquitted.

Yes, even back then, if you had money and influence - you could get away with murder.
And yes, it helped that the whole jury was made up of Manning friends.

They continued to live in El Paso, and soon the killing of Dallas Stoudenmire was all but forgotten.

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.

However, he only kept the job temporarily, as he often failed to arrest friends and acquaintances. And later, Frank Manning died in an insane asylum.

When James Manning observed Dallas still holding a gun, he shot him 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.

So he moved to Seattle WA and purchased 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 died from cancer in Los Angeles destitute.

George "Doc" Manning is said to have resumed his medical practice in Arizona. He died pennyless in 1925 and is buried in the Citizen’s Cemetery in Flagstaff.

His Legend Lives On

Dallas Stoudenmire was born on December 11th, 1845 and died on September 18th, 1882.

Today he is known for being an American Old West gunman and lawman, who gained fame for a brief gunfight that was later dubbed the "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight".

Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire has been credited for successfully taming the wild and violent town of El Paso, Texas.

The El Paso Police Department acknowledges and pays tribute to the legendary Marshal Stoudenmire for his accomplishment.

Although lesser known than many others from the Old West called "gunfighters," his name is becoming more prominent to Old West historians who recognize his contributions to establishing law and order in the Old West.

Hollywood briefly considered a movie of him, but it has yet to materialize.

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 than most of his better known contemporaries, such as John Selman, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Elfego Baca, Luke Short, and Doc Holliday.

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.


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