Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Tombstone Epitaph's "The Cow-boy Nuisance" 1881

The Tombstone Epitaph, published the following editorial on September 16th, 1881:

The Cow-boy Nuisance

Tombstone Sept. 16 -- Has anyone stopped for a moment to consider the present state of affairs in Arizona, and what the end will be? It has come to pass in this county that life and personal property are unsafe; even in the town of Tombstone it seems as if one of the leading industries is to be destroyed.

There is not a teamster today who is not in fear and dread of the cow-boys, or so-styled "rustlers" depriving him of his hard earnings (I say hard earnings, for if there is a man who gains his living by the sweat of his brow, it is the man who from early morn till late at night pulls and tugs along through mud and rain, dust, and heat, with a six or eight mule team, or the man who shoulders a bull whip and tramps all day long yelling and pounding seven or eight yoke of oxen) How must such men feel to be robbed by a hand of thieves and cutthroats, who take pride in announcing to the public that they are "rustlers!"

Where is the teamsters protection? Can you find any officers who will follow, arrest and recover your property? If you can, I would like to see him. And how do teamsters act to one another in such matters?

They stand still, for the "rustlers" tell them, "you won't be troubled if you leave us alone." So they take the man's cattle ahead of you, and you won't help him, for you have had an understanding; and then they take yours; the man behind you won't help you for he is "solid," having had an understanding with them; and then they take his, and so it goes.

Another thing, teamsters are afraid; they follow, intending to fight, they get close to their stock, are met and told to go back, and back they go. These chaps seem to have no difficulty in evading the law, while others, not inclined to work, daily join the band and they are increasing fast in numbers. Our town is filled with spies watching every move of the officers and imparting their information to their comrades. Just let a stage be robbed and in less than twelve hours no less than twelve "rustlers" will come and go. It is having a dreadfully depressing effect upon all kinds of business.

Men who come to examine different mines outside of town, when they learn how the cow-boys stand fellows up, do not wish to run such risks; they quietly take the road they came and get into civilization as soon as possible. Just look at the number of oxen stolen in the last six weeks between here and Morse's Mills; and, to cap off with, they stopped what was left of the train they had robbed, and told the owners; "Travel this no further: if you do we will kill you and take your oxen," and they there and then forced them there and then unyoke. That was done within four miles of this town on last Sunday morning.

I think it is time the people did something. There are men not afraid of them, but those men are in various employments. They won't quit work and go on the trail unless the people will make it an object. Ten armed men, well mounted, can, in sixty days, bring to justice many a "rustler." Put the right men in the field and give them the proper leader, and see how soon peace will be restored to the community, and business will resume its happy and prosperous course again.

-- end of The Tombstone Epitaph article,

Newspapers can help calm things down or inflame a situation. Some have told me that The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper poured gas on the fire with this editorial. From what I can tell, there's no mistaking what The Tombstone Epitaph thought of the Cowboy faction in that town. This summed it up.

The above article was published by The Tombstone Epitaph about a month before the now famous gunfight near the OK Corral. As most of us know, that gunfight on October 26, 1881, resulted in the killing of three cowboys.
Tom Correa

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