Tombstone History Archives
Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years
Halcyon Days of Tombstone
Arizona Range News
May 10th 1907
Halcyon Days of Tombstone
By C.D. Reppy
Ed. Note - Mr. C.D. Reppy, now right-of-way agent for the Gila Valley, Globe & Northern Railway, is one of the pioneer newspaper men of the territory and was one of the founders and first editors of the famous Epitaph. He is probably better informed in the history of the “good old days” of the camp than any of the old timers who still survive.
One Major Truman has been writing Arizona history for the Examiner which contains about as much truth as the Detroit Free Press man’s Arizona Kicker articles. The major claims to have been a resident of Tombstone in its boom days, but I have yet to meet any of the old timers who knew him there. He may have been an “old settler”, one of that class who receives letters inviting them to come back and settle. Who knows?
Major Truman has a story in the Examiner of February 18 which he calls the “Outcome of Joe Palmer’s Poor Shot” and locates the scene in California City, Pima county; 1880 81.
In the first place there is not and never was a California City in Pima county. There was a California mining district in the Chiricahua mountains, with a lively mining camp known as Galeyville, which for a time was the headquarters of the “Rustlers,” an organized band of cattle thieves. This is probably the place Major Truman refers to, but no such incidents as he relates ever occurred there. Neither did any of the characters he mentions ever live there, with the exception of “Curley Bill” a tall blue-eyed blonde, with hair reaching to his shoulders, the very image of a dime novel hero. He it was who murdered City Marshall White in Tombstone in 1881 while resisting arrest, by the then new method of handing his sixshooter butt first to the officer and whirling it on his forefinger, at the same time cocking it, and shooting. “Curley Bill” was turned loose as was nearly every murderer in those days, and was afterwards killed by the Earp boys at the Bradshaw mine, near Charleston. He became famous in song and story, and the birds at the Birdcage in Tombstone warbled.
When Curley Bill came over the hill
All the way from Galeyville,
Good-bye, my lover good-bye.
So sweet were these songs that two of the birds, at least, sang themselves into the hearts of a couple of Arizona’s most prominent citizens, and today they are excellent wifes and mothers.
The “Rustlers” of Galeyville were in the habit of going into the stores and helping themselves to anything they wanted. Hence merchandising in that camp ceased to be profitable. As in all ages, capital got to be overbearing, so one of the boys got arrested for simply taking a pair of high-heeled boots in the presence of the proprietor and his clerk, and Judge W.H. Stillwell, who was then on the bench, gave him twenty years in the penitentiary. This discouraged the socialistic plan for some time. Shortly after Galeyville “went down,” and no wonder.
At the November election of 1880, just prior to the formation of Cochise county out of this portion of Pima county, Bob Paul and Charley Shibell were rival candidates for sheriff. At San Simon there were barely enough voters for election officers, perhaps half a dozen. Notwithstanding this fact there were 132 votes cast for Shibell and one for Paul. This was explained afterwards by one of the participants as follows: The Judges and clerks had been kept busy all day between voting and drinks, and along about sundown one of them remarked, “This election is too d—-d one-sided to suit me. I believe I’ll put one in for Bob Paul.” This he did. On the face of the returns Shibell was elected, but the precinct was afterwards thrown out and Paul was successful. Never before this election had party lines been drawn in the territory. Candidates got out and announced themselves and it was a go-as-you-please affair from start to finish.
Supplies were hauled by team from Wilcox to Globe and the highest ambition of a teamster was to have a good outfit and live on canned goods. Julius Liberman in those days was a bigger man than John D. Rockefellow, for Julius had a contract and furnished the supplies.
The Indians at times were troublesome and committed many outrages, but we are getting even with them now by working them on the railroad grade.
The bad men from Bodie and the bad men from Dodge City met on neutral ground at Tombstone and many were the clashes, and many there were to bite the dust. At last it got to be universally admitted that for all round badness, for quickness on the draw and for accuracy of aim, the gun fighters of the Pacific slope were not in it with those from Texas, Kansas and Colorado. There was hardly one of them who did not look for the best of it, and hardly one but would decline to fight if he failed to have the best of it. They had murder reduced to a fine art.
Now they are almost all dead. ---
Globe Silver Belt.