Tombstone History Archives

 Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

Judge Spicer’s Letter to the Editor in Defense of His Decision




In the wake of the Spicer Hearing, Earp supporters John Clum, Tom Fitch, and Marshall Williams received anonymous threatening letters. Judge Wells Spicer received the following letter:


Tombstone, A.T., Dec. 13, 1881


Sir, if you take my advice you will take your departure for a more genial clime, as I don’t think this One Healthy for you much longer As you are liable to get a hole through your coat at any moment. If such sons of Bitches as you are allowed to dispense Justice in this Territory, the Sooner you Depart from us the better for yourself And the community at large you may make light of this But it is only a matter of time you will get it sooner or later So with those few gentle hints I Will Conclude for the first and last time.




Spicer replied in the December 18th Tombstone Epitaph as follows:


I must regret that the writer of the above did not sign his true name, or at least inform me what mine he works in, for I would really be pleased to cultivate his acquaintance, as I think he would be an amiable companion - when sober…


As I cannot have the pleasure of a personal interview with the ami­able ‘Miner,’ will you allow me the privilege of replying to his charming epistle, and say to him that I have concluded not to go, nor would I ever notice his disinterested advice on the subject were it not for the fact that similar threats have been made by others, and that the threats would be carried into execution if they only dared to do it.


Since the daring attempt to murder Mayor Clum and to wantonly kill a stage load of passengers to accomplish it, these little emanations of bravado do not draw forth admiration as would the beauty of summer clouds with silver linings. They are too sombre and surrounded with a deathly black shade of recent transactions- they are bad omens of the future when viewed in the light of the death glare of the past. This style of threat has been made not only against myself, but at the same time against Mr. Clum and others. The attempt has been made to assassinate Mr. Clum - who will come next?


One and all will ask, from whence do these threats emanate? And each will have his own opinion; I have mine. And now I will try to do justice to the Clanton brothers by saying that they and men outside the city, living on ranches and engaged in raising cattle or other lawful pur­suit, as heartily condemn the proceedings as any man in our midst, and that they as honestly denounce all such affairs as any man can. That the real evil exists within the limits of our city.


It is needless to try to turn these matters into ridicule or make them a subject of jest for funny squibs. It is a matter of serious importance to the community.


I am well aware that all this hostility to me is on account of my deci­sion in the Earp case, and for that decision I have been reviled and slan­dered beyond measure, and that every vile epithet that a foul mouth could utter has been spoken of me, principal among which has been that of corruption and bribery.


It is but just to myself that I should here assert that neither directly or indirectly was I ever approached in the interest of the defendants, them or for them. Not so the prosecution - in the interest of that side even my friends have been interviewed with the hope of influencing me with money, and hence all this talk by them and those who echo their slanders about corruption. And here too, I wish to publicly proclaim every one who says that I was in any in manner improperly influenced is a base and willful liar.


There is a rabble in our city who would like to be thugs if they had courage; would be proud to be called cowboys if people would give them that distinction; but as they can be neither, they do the best they can to show how vile they are, and slander, abuse and threaten everybody they dare to. Of all such I say, that whenever they are denouncing me they are lying from a low, wicked and villainous heart; and that when they threaten me they do so because they are low-bred, arrant cowards, and know that “fight is not my racket” - if it was they would not dare to do it.


In conclusion, I will say that I will be here just where they can find me should they want me.


Wells Spicer


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