Tombstone History Archives
Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years
Wyatt Earp’s Crabtree Deposition - April 1926
(Under stipulation, the further hearing of depositions was continued on this day, to no. 1818 Fourth Avenue, Los Angeles, California, at the hour of 3 PM)
Wyatt S. Earp produced as witness on behalf of the Contestant, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
By Mr. Hoy:
Q You live, ordinarily, where?
A. I have been summering in Los Angeles for the last 20 years.
Q In the winter where do you live?
A Down at some mines I have got on the Colorado River.
Q Now, Mr. Earp, were in Tombstone in the early days?
A I went to Tombstone in October, 1879.
Q How long did you stay?
A I lived there until the 23rd of March, 1882.
May we have the same stipulation as to objections and motions to strike out?
Yes, but I want to add to the stipulation that I have the same objections and motion regarding your cross-examination
Q What position did you hold while you were there, if any?
A I was deputy sheriff from about the 1st of October 1879 up to the latter part of April, just before the election came off in 1880.
Q Then what position did you hold?
A I was Deputy United States Marshal and Wells Fargo private man.
Q Was your brother or brothers or your father any officer there in the early days?
A I had a brother who was chief of police.
Q What was his name?
Q Was your father down there at all?
Q Where are you from?
A Do you mean where was I born?
A Monmouth, Warren County, Illinois
Q When did you strike the West?
Q How old are you now?
A l am in my seventy eighth year. I was 77 the 19th of last month.
Q While you were in Tombstone do you remember any of the people you used to know back there?
Q Who do you remember?
A Well- that is while I was still living in Tombstone?
Q No. Who do you remember among the old timers back there?
A A man by the name of Young, a man by the name of Hunsaker, who is a lawyer here, John P. Clum and his son, and there is a few here- a man named Oscar Roberts- but a lot of them died in the last four or five years.
Q Do you remember anybody down there in the early days by name of Crabtree?
A I did.
Q Will you tell what you know about him, where you met him, how you met him and everything that you know abut him?
A Well, I met Crabtree when he first came to Tombstone. He came there with a man named Bullock. Ed Bullock and his wife.
Q Where did you meet him?
A They started a corral in Tombstone and I met him at that corral, but I used to see them often from the street. They were right on the street and passing by I would see them. Of course I would took see them around the corral and they had been there a time I got acquainted with Crabtree. I went up one time to try to buy a three seated hack that he had. I had 12 or 15 horses that I had taken to Tombstone with me from Kansas and I had a coach and he had a three seated hack and I thought I could turn that hack into a pretty good coach and I intended to start a stage line from Tombstone to Benson. I went into the corral to try to buy that hack. There is where I first met Mrs. Crabtree to know who she was. Of course I was satisfied before that that she was the wife of Crabtree but I met her there and I was introduced to her by Crabtree.
Q Later on did you hear of any family coming to them?
A She had a child later on.
Q Do you remember where they were living then?
A They were living east of Fremont. I don’t know what the name of the street was that they were living on and I am not positive as to whether it was Fourth or Fifth, but I have always though it was Fifth Street they were living on. I know it was east of Fremont. Those streets east of Fremont, there was no business on those streets at all and they were cut up with washes pretty bad and that made it kind of a residential part of town and I never got down in that part of town very often, very seldom.
Q Was anybody with you when Crabtree introduced you to his wife?
A My brother Virgil. He went with me. We were partners at the time, or had the horses together.
Q How many times in all did you see Mrs. Crabtree in Tombstone, do you think?
A Well, I couldn’t say positively, but I have met her afterwards I met her at a family’s that I went to see with a man by the name of Johnson. They were friends of his and he asked me to go and visit the family with him.
Q Did you go?
A I went, and I met Mrs. Crabtree there. The first time I made the visit to these people-”I was there probably six or eight times all told.
Q At that time when you went there did they have a baby?
A She had a baby.
Q What kind of a baby was it?
A I don’t know that.
Q Don’t you remember?
A I don’t recollect.
Q When you became acquainted knew him, did you know that he was in any way related to Crabtree, the actress?
A Well, no, I didn’t know it at that time.
Q Did you at a later time?
A At that time I didn’t know anything about Lotta Crabtree.
Q You are not a Californian, you came from Kansas?
A The first time I heard of Lotta Crabtree was after I left Tombstone and went to San Francisco in the latter part of 1882 and of course there I heard of Lotta Crabtree because they had a fountain there that she had erected, or had had erected in front of the Chronicle Building. That is the first time I ever heard of her.
Q When did you hear of, or did you connect your acquaintance-tip with Crabtree in Tombstone with her, or did you hear anything to lead you to know that there was any connection? A No, I don’t think I heard anything.
Q Did you know where the San Jose rooming house was in the early days?
Q Did you ever see Mrs. Crabtree there?
A I have.
Q Did you know the lady who ran that?
Q Who was it?
A Mrs. Falloon. Afterwards she married a man named Taylor. I met Mrs. Crabtree at Mrs. Falloon San Jose rooming house on two or three occasions. I recollect one occasion very well, where there had been a man shot, by the name of Storms, and he had a room at the San Jose rooming house and we took Storms down there to his room. The doctor was going to hold a post mortem and they wanted me to stick around, and being there I met Mrs. Crabtree. She had her baby with her then and I had quite a long talk with her with regard to the shooting and how it came up and what it was about, and all that. On two or three other occasions I met here there. I used to take my prisoners down to the San Jose rooming house. They had no jail in Tombstone at that time. That was before the county was divided. It was all Pima County and we had to take our prisoners to Tucson. In holding them in Tombstone I used to get a room in the San Jose and put a guard over them and in that way I met Mrs. Crabtree on two or three occasions.
Q How old a woman was she, would you say?
A Oh, I would put her anywhere between 16 and 18 years old at that time, quite young.
Q How old was Crabtree in those days? A Around 25 I should think.
Q What kind of a looking fellow was he?
A Small sized man, a man about the size of - oh, to the best of my knowledge about 5 feet 9 or 9 1/2 and weighed about 135 or 140.
Q Did you hear something about his being in some connection with Ed Bullock?
A He was supposed to be a partner of Bullock.
Q In what?
A In the corral.
Q Who told you that?
A I don’t know
Q How did you know it?
A By seeing them together and doing business with each other.
Q Did you do business- did you ever do any business with them or see them doing business with each other?
A Well, you see they were both there at the corral and when I went to buy that hack or try to buy that hack, we all had our talk with Crabtree.
Q Did he talk as if he was the proprietor and interested in it?
Q Some one has said in connection with this case and the taking of these depositions that that was a pretty rough city up there, a very rough town, very little law and order and that law and order was more observed in the breach than in the observance thereof. What have you got to say about that?
A I say it is wrong.
Q What are the facts?
A The facts are there. I arrested pretty nearly every man that done any killing there. I don’t think there was only a couple of people that ever got into trouble and killed any one- just about two outside of what I arrested myself and I can mention all the killings on my fingers.
Q Ten killings?
A Not that many.
Q How many?
A Oh, I will tell you- let’s see. The first man killed was Killeen, Mike Killeen.
Q Who killed him?
A Well, I know who killed him.
Q Did Frank Leslie kill him?
Q Who was the next one- by the way you were there and saw the shooting?
A I was on the ground not a half a minute afterwards. I arrested Frank Leslie and also this other man.
Q There is one.
A Then City Marshal White. He was killed by Curley Bill. I arrested him and took him to Tucson and put him in jail. Then the next man was killed by a man by the name of Bradshaw. He killed his partner McIntyre. Bradshaw had bought a kind of a funny looking shirt, a red striped shirt and he went up the street and everybody was making fun of it and saying, “Where did you get that shirt?” And he got hot over it and he says, “The next man that kids me about this shirt I am going to kill him.” The next man he met was his partner, the man that he was sleeping with and rooming with and of course he said to Bradshaw- we called him “Brad” he said “Where did you get that shirt?” and he jerked his gun out and killed him. That is three. That is Killeen, the Marshal, and McIntyre. The next man killed was Storms and he was killed by Luke Short. That was four. That is all I can recollect outside of the trouble that I had, the Clanton and McLowry boys.
Q Those men were men that were outlaws and you representing law and order, you had to shoot them?
Q By the way, what do you say as to that community’s condition regarding law and order and morality and living, according to the ordinary customs of civilization as it was in that mining camp in those days, in 1878 and ‘83?’
A State that over again.
Q I would like to ask you to state your observation of those times and tell us what the condition of this community was for law and order?
A It was not half as bad as Long Angeles.
Q Tell us whether it was good or bad or whether it was a lawless outpost?
A I called it good.
Q You were in charge?
A I called it good.
Q Did you ever hear a breath of scandal about reputation, ill repute, against the name of Mrs. Crabtree?
A No sir, I did not.
Q I think you have answered this, but I will ask it again. You said that they lived in the residence portion of town?
A They lived on the same street.
Q I never knew the name of those streets up there. They run the same as Fremont, but they lived east of Fremont.
Q Over towards the Dragoons?
A In that direction. It could not have been more than a block away.
Q Did you ever hear it mentioned that Mr. and Mrs. Crabtree were living in any other relationship than as husband and wife?
A No sir.
Q Your understanding was what, as to the relationship?
A That they were man and wife.
Q And you got it from whom?
A I got it from their actions more than
Q And what else?
A From the introduction he gave me.
Q What else?
A And her having a child by him and everything went to show that they were man and wife.
Q Did you ever hear it questioned that the child was Jack Crabtree’s child, in Tombstone?
Q Did you ever hear otherwise?
Q Did you ever see him with that child on the street or any place else?
A I have seen him with the child on the street several times and then several times I have seen him in the restaurant run by a man by the name of Brown- Doughnut Brown. He had a restaurant there.
Q With that child?
A Yes, and with his wife.
By Mr. Hoy: Your witness, Judge Chase.
A This Doughnut Brown had a restaurant on Fifth Street between Allen and Fremont. I have seen him there. I used to take my meals there myself.
Q By Mr. Hoy: While you were there and saw him there what was his attitude towards the child? Can you say that it was other than the normal fatherly attitude, or what was it?
A The same as any other father would be. I never did see anything else.
Cross Examination by Mr. Chase
Q When did you first see Crabtree?
A Well, I cannot say just what time, but I was under the impression it was along the latter part of 1880. It might have been a little earlier than that, or later.
Q When did you first see Bullock?
A Just about the same rime.
Q You didn’t see them come to Tombstone?
A No I didn’t see them come to Tombstone but I was under the impression that they both came there together.
Q When did you first see the woman that you have called Mrs. Crabtree?
A Well, the first time that I met the woman, that is just to see her, was around the corral.
Q How long after you saw Bullock and Crabtree was that?
A Oh, they were around the corral the same time.
Q How long after you first saw them at Tombstone was it that you saw her around the corral?
A Why, I saw them all about the same time.
Q Do you remember when the baby was born?
Q When did you first see the baby?
A I saw the baby at the corral.
Q At the corral?
Q About how long after you first saw Bullock and Crabtree was it that you saw the baby, first?
A Well, it was two or three months after I first saw him.
Q How old was the baby then?
A The first time I saw it?
A It didn’t look to me like it was over a week or ten days old.
Q Do you know where the baby was born?
A No, I do not.
Q Had you heard?
A No, I know it was born in Tombstone, but I don’t know at what time.
Q Or where?
A That I could not swear to, but it was supposed to have been born where they were living. I couldn’t swear to that.
Q You mean you don’t know?
A l don’t know.
Q Have you heard that it was born in a carriage at the corral?
A No sir, I never heard that.
Q Do you know Colonel Breckenridge?
Q Has he talked with you about this?
Q Didn’t you tell him that you had heard that it was born in a carriage?
A No sir. Breckenridge knows nothing about it except what I told him.
Q Didn’t you tell him that you had heard something about it being born in a carriage?
A I told him at one time when he was here, one time, that some how or other I had got it into my mind that it was born in a carriage.
Q Because you had heard it?
Q Well, how did you get it in your mind?
A By seeing her around this carriage before, and a short time after.
Q Was that carriage fitted up as a sleeping place?
Q Who fitted it up?
A Crabtree, I suppose.
Q Was that carriage in the corral?
A It was in the front part of the corral.
Q At the time the carriage was there, fitted up as a sleeping place, you say the woman that you called Mrs. Crabtree, you saw her around the corral constantly?
Q Even after the baby was born you saw her around the corral?
Q You understood that she lived there at that time?
A I seen her around the corral quite often after the baby was born, but they were living then down east on Fremont Street.
Q At the time you saw her around the corral she had the little baby with her?
A She had a baby with her. I had seen her there. She would come down quite frequently.
Q You say you saw her in the San Jose house quite also?
A Yes sir.
Q Before or after you saw her around the corral?
A It was afterwards. It was after.
Q She lived there at one time, did she?
Q At the San Jose?
A Not that I know of.
Q Didn’t she-
A As I say I have seen her there quite often when I when I would pass by the San Jose rooming house I would see her there. Several times I saw her there. But whether she lived there or not I don’t know.
A It was on Fifth Street, and on one of those streets east of Fremont, about a block from Fremont and half way down the street.
Q Those two streets east of Fremont. Now, who did Johnson go to see?
A The wife of Mahoney, if that was his name?
Q What did you go for?
A Well, I had this Johnson with me and the thing was getting warm between me and the rustlers and Johnson had joined my party, and he had been identified with this other party for a while and they got on to him. I was using Johnson at that time the same as Chief Heath would use a stool pigeon, but we didn’t call them stool pigeons in those days. I was letting him get information for me. They had got on to him and of course it was a little dangerous for a man like that to get out alone and I went with him.
Q Did he go down there to this house?
A I went with him, yes. That is the first time I ever met this family, was this time.
Q Did Johnson go down there to get information as an officer?
A Oh, no.
Q He went to make a call?
A I don’t know what he went there for.
Q What did he do?
A There was two rooms to the house, a front room and a back room and a kitchen. I never was in there of course. I sat down in the front part of the room, and they would go into this back room and do the talking.
Q Who was “they?”
A Johnson and this man’s wife. They never closed the door.
Q What man’s wife? Who are you now referring to?
A Mahoney, or whatever his name was.
Q This lady called Mrs. Crabtree would stay in the other room.
A No sir.
Q What did she do?
A She went off with her child after we came. She was there a few minutes and then went home. She lived just a short ways from there. She went out. So I was set down there and they went into this back room but they never closed the door. I went there about 6 or 8 times all told inside of 5 or 6 months and that door never was closed, so I know there was nothing wrong them.
Q Between Johnson and this Mrs. Mahoney?
Q You never saw Mrs. Crabtree
A Just once after that.
Q And that is all?
A Yes. I saw her just twice at that house. I met her at other times at an ice cream parlor.
Q What ice cream parlor?
A On Fourth Street between Allen and Fremont.
Q Whose place?
A A woman named Hinkley. She afterwards married a man named Fay, a reporter on the Nugget.
Q What was she doing?
A I don’t know, I used to go there pretty often. I liked ice cream and I met her over there. At one time I thought maybe she worked there.
Q Was she behind the counter?
A No, I don’t know as they had a counter. They had tables around the room and another room in back.
Q Did you ever know what her maiden name was, her first name?
Q Never heard of it?
A I have heard it since this case came up.
Q Did you ever hear that it was Anna Leopold, or Annie’?
Q Did you ever hear anybody referred to as native daughter?
Q Nobody in Tombstone?
A No. As a native daughter did you say?
Q Was Johnson the man’s name?
A That is the name that he was going by but I don’t think it was his right name.
Q What was his right name?
A I don’t know. I never found out.
Q Why do you think it was not his right name?
A Well, putting two and two together I figured it out. He never told me, and nobody else told me but I figured it out that this man-this man’s wife that he was going to see was probably his sister. I knew the family was from Southwest Missouri and I knew that Johnson was from Southwest Missouri and afterwards I met Johnson in Kansas City and he was going by the name of Ritchie. I put it together. I knew there was some parties that had has some trouble in Southwest Missouri, had had a street fight and several people got killed and I knew that he was from that part of the country, so I made up my mind that his name was Blunt. I knew the Blunt boys was in this trouble and I knew they went to Leadville, Colorado, and I also knew that they came to Prescott, Arizona, and Bud Blunt got into some kind of trouble there. Some prizefighter slugged the life out of him one day, pounded him up unmercifully, and he went off and got a gun and killed this fellow. He was sent to the pen for four years. There was Bud Blunt and John Blunt. I never him after he went to the Penitentiary. But this fellow Johnson appeared there in Tombstone l got acquainted with him and he got down amongst the rustlers, going into Mexico and picking up a herd of cattle, and he got tired of that and he wanted to quit and I knew that he could give me a lot of information and get a lot of information from the other side so I took him in with my posse. After he had been there awhile he asked me to help get Bud Blunt out of the penitentiary. He said that if I would get up a petition in Tombstone and one in Leadville and one in Prescott he thought that the governor would pardon him. I had heard all about Blunt killing this fellow after he had been pounded up, and I had made up mind that he was about halfway right and I helped him get this petition up and he was pardoned by the governor. He went back to Missouri and I never heard of John Blunt again. I had made up my mind, putting everything together afterwards, that this man Johnson was John Blunt a brother of Bud’s, and also a brother of the man’s wife.
Q Do I understand that you used Johnson or Blunt or whatever his name was as a stool pigeon because he knew the people that you were after and was familiar with the facts you wanted?
A That was what I wanted.
Q And had been associating with them?
A Yes, I wanted to get information.
Q Was that the reason why you used him?
Q Did he know this Woman that you referred to as Mrs. Crabtree?
A Did he know’ Mrs. Crabtree?
A He knew her quite well I think.
Q Do you remember when she went away?
A No. She disappeared all at once.
Q Do you know a man named Rabb?
A I do not.
Q Never heard of him?
A No, not until this case came up.
Q Do you know where she went from Tombstone?
A Where who went?
Q This woman who called herself Mrs. Crabtree?
A No, I do not.
Q Never heard?
A Never heard where she went and at that time I didn’t know anything about where she went.
Q You said you didn’t go down in that part of town very often?
A No, not very.
Q Any particular reason for that?
A Well, there was no business on those streets, there was no business I think at all. It was a residential part of town now that I call to mind- my lawyer lived in that part of town and I went to his place several times and I met Mrs. Crabtree at his house on two or three different occasions. His name was Jones, Harry Jones and he was my lawyer. They lived in that vicinity, but that part of town had no business outside of residential purposes and I had no business down there, much. Of course the San Jose house, that was on one of the principal streets, on Fremont.
Q You never heard the relations between Mr. Crabtree and this woman discussed, did you?
A Between what?
Q You never heard the relations between them discussed, did you?
Q It was not a matter of talk about the town was it?
A I never heard it discussed at all, they were supposed to be man and wife.
Q That is your supposition?
A Yes I never heard anything to the contrary.
Q Or to that point either?
A No sir.
Q You drew your own conclusions to that effect from the fact that you say you saw them together and there was a baby?
Q It was not a matter of gossip about the town, was it?
A Never heard any.
Q You cannot think of anybody you ever heard discussing what they were to each other?
Q For the most of the time you were there you were deputy marshal, weren’t you?
A I was deputy sheriff. I was made deputy sheriff on my way to Tombstone. I stopped off in Tucson. I had some friends in Tucson from Kansas. I had left Dodge City, Kansas, where I had been chief of police of Dodge City for four years before and I went to Tombstone and quite a number of my friends were living in Tucson. I had quite a big outfit and I camped out in the edge of town. I went uptown and met some of those friends and the sheriff there, his name his was Chabelle, I was camped down there and he and another man came down there to see me and the Sheriff prevailed upon me to take the deputyship. I told him I had just got away from that kind of a life at Dodge City and I didn’t want to go back to it, but he told me- put it up to me in a glowing way that it would be just the same as being sheriff of the county. He said, “You have got all that country over there and there is money in it.” Finally I accepted the deputyship and I went over there as a deputy sheriff.
Q How long were you deputy sheriff?
A Well, that was in the later part of October, 1879, and I served until 1880.
Q Then you became United States Marshal or Deputy United States Marshal?
A I went to Tucson late in 1880 and put in my resignation to Sheriff Chabelle and he wanted to know why I done that, and I told him that friend of mine was running for sheriff and running on my ticket and that was going to support him and I didn’t feel like working for Ball and being his deputy. So he accepted the resignation.
Q You then became Deputy United States Marshal?
A Then I was appointed Deputy United States Marshal.
Q And were such until you left?
A I was Deputy United States Marshal until I left.
Q After you became Deputy United States Marshal there was not the best of feeling between your office and the office of the sheriff?
Q The sheriff’s name was Behan?
Q You were allied with one faction and he with mother?
Q With you was allied Doc Holliday?
Q He was somewhat of a notorious character in those days?
A Well, no. I couldn’t say that he was notorious outside of this other faction trying to make him notorious. Of course he killed a man or two before he went there.
Q Didn’t he have the reputation of being a holder-up of stages?
A I never heard of it until I left.
Q With the Behans were allied the Clandens?
A Yes. And the Behan side whenever they got a chance to hurt me over Holliday’s shoulders they would do it. They would make a lot of talk about Doc Holliday.
Q Because he was allied with you?
A He never had no trouble in Tombstone outside of being in this street fight with us. Then on one occasion he got in trouble with part of the combination that was against me, Joyce, his partner, and he shot Joyce in the hand and the other fellow in the foot and of course that made them pretty sore against Holliday. But they knew that I was Holliday’s friend and they tried to injure me every way they could.
Q Didn’t that feud finally culminate in what you have referred to as a streetfight?
A No sir.
Q What was that and where did it take place and when?
A It took place in October on Fremont Street.
Q October of what year?
Q How many were killed in that fight?
Q Who were they?
A Billy Clandon and the two McLowreys.
Q Was one of your brothers injured at that time?
A I had two brothers wounded in that fight, and Doc Holliday.
Q Was one of them killed?
A No, not then.
Q Was Doc Holliday in that fight?
Q Was one of your brothers subsequently killed?
A Not in that fight.
Q In another fight?
A No other fight. He was killed afterwards by being assassinated, but not in a fight. He was shot through a window.
Q You left after that?
Q You said you left Dodge City for Tombstone?
Q what were you going to do in Tombstone?
A I intended to start a stage line when I first started out from Dodge City, but when I got there I found there was two stage lines and so I finally sold my outfit to one of the companies, to a man named Kinnear. But I intended to start this stage line when l went there.
Q What did you do besides being deputy sheriff and marshal?
A What did I do?
A Well, I dealt awhile in pasteboard and ivory.
Q Well, you are talking to people who don’t know what those things are.
A Dealing faro bank.
Q Where was that?
A In Tombstone.
Q What place?
A That was the Oriental.
Q Was that on the main street?
A On the business street.
Q On Allen Street?
Q Was the Bird Cage open while you were there?
Q Do you remember when that was opened?
A Some time in 1880. I don’t recollect just when, just what month. It was about the later part of 1880.
Mr. Chase: I think that is all.
A After this trouble came up, this fellow Behan, he intended to run for sheriff and he knew that I did, and if I do say it myself I was a pretty strong man for the position. He knew that he had to do me some way and he done everything in the world that he could against me. He stood in with this tough element, the cow boys and stage robbers and others, because they were pretty strong and he wanted their vote. Whenever they would get a chance to shoot anything at me over Holliday’s shoulders they would do it. So they made Holliday a bad man. An awful bad man, which was wrong. He was a man that would fight if he had to but-
Q By Mr. Hoy: Do you hear any more or any less about other married people in Tombstone than you heard about Jack Crabtree and his wife?
A I did not.
Q It was just the same- they were treated just the same as married people by everybody?
Q And everybody understood that they were married?
Q And were according to your understanding?
Q What I am getting at is this. Were there or not many people in Tombstone going as husband and wife that you didn’t know whether they were married or not. You had never seen their marriage license, but you took them as man and wife?
Q Were Jack and Anna Crabtree taken the same way?
Q Were they different than any others?
A No sir, none at all. There was lots of good married people there.
Mr. .Hoy: All right, Mr. Earp, that is all. We are very much obliged to you.