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Chapter 6: The McLaury Brothers in Arizona Territory

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


The McLaury Brothers in

Arizona Territory

There is only fragmentary evidence on the whereabouts of Tom and

Frank McLaury during the middle 1870s, whether they lived with or worked for the Dewitt brothers in Lamar County, Texas. Frank and Tom McLaury were definitely in Fort Worth long enough to have their portraits taken by August

R. Mignon, a photographer whose studio was on the second floor of 24 Main

Street, across from the Public Square. 1

It’s unclear why they left central Texas and moved farther west. A family story claimed that Frank got into a fight or shooting. According to that story,

Will helped to keep Frank out of jail, persuading him to leave town. A check of the docket for mayor’s court did not turn up any record of Tom or Frank ever having been arrested in Fort Worth. One newspaper story described a vicious fight that took place near the railroad depot. The mention of one man being a “mechanic” could be significant, as the words “boss mechanic” were used three years later to describe Frank’s occupation in the History of Buchanan

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Chapter 8: The Arizona Frontier

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


The Arizona Frontier

The brothers’ location in the Babocomari Valley was probably land under dispute. The claimant was a San Francisco speculator, Dr. E. B. Perrin, whose previous real estate experience included being a principal in the Fresno

Canal Company, along the upper San Juaquin River. In Arizona, Perrin’s claim included land five miles north and south of the Babocomari River, from where it joined the San Pedro and west for a swath 14 miles long. This enormous tract of land was known as the San Ignacio del Babocomari Land

Grant, a patent that had its origins in Old Mexico and dated back to 1832.

The land patent belonged to a Mexican family who had abandoned it prior to the War of 1846 due to harassment by the Apaches. Perrin visited Mexico in

1877, while investigating the possibility of a railroad route from the United

States into Mexico. Purchasing the land from the Mexican family was easy, but proving the legitimacy of his claim took 23 years. In the meantime, the central strip of the Babocomari Valley remained in dispute. The McLaurys kept their sights on settling in the Sulphur Spring Valley. Meanwhile, their friends, the Clantons, settled on a ranch near the San Pedro, overlooking

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Chapter 9: “My Name is Well Known in Arizona”

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


“My Name is Well Known in Arizona”

The Earp brothers immigrated to southeastern Arizona late in the year

1879. Wyatt had been part of the police force in Dodge City, Kansas, as well as a professional gambler. His older brother, Virgil, had recently settled near

Prescott, Arizona Territory, where he worked for a time in law enforcement.

Wyatt and Virgil’s older brother, James, lived in Fort Worth, Texas, for several years where he tended bar for saloon-keeper Robert J. Winders. Winders left for Tombstone in the spring of 1879 and very publicly invited any of his friends from Fort Worth to join him in the booming camp. Jim Earp was likely the first of the Earp brothers to hear about the excitement at Tombsone and he probably persuaded his younger brothers to join him in going there.

A younger Earp brother, Morgan, lived in Montana until the spring of 1880, and joined his brothers in Arizona in July 1880. 1

Before leaving Prescott, Virgil was appointed a deputy United States marshal by Crawley P. Dake, United States marshal for the Territory. Virgil’s commission was to enforce the federal laws for that region. Of the Earp brothers, he alone held a position as a lawman when they arrived in Tombstone.

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Chapter 11: Politics of Arizona and Tombstone

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


Politics of Arizona and


The village of Tombstone evolved from a campsite to a town over a period of a year and a half. Settlements—no more than a collection of tents, really—were gathered in several locations among the hills nearest the mines.

One area gathered more momentum than the others, the area briefly called

“Goose Flats,” which had nearly level land on a mesa just north of the Grand

Central and Contention mines. As this site continued to expand in its relative importance to other small settlements such as Watervale, Richmond, HogEm and others, it established itself as the commercial center while the others became the satellite communities. Disputes were native to mining communities throughout the West, especially the successful ones. Any ambiguity in the surveying of mining claims would quickly produce a face-off between mine owners. The discoverers of the Tombstone District had such a dispute within the first days of its existence. Fortunately they were able to agree to settle their differences, and the settlement became the Contention Mine.

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Chapter 2: McLaurys in Iowa

Paul Lee Johnson University of North Texas Press PDF


McLaurys in Iowa

As he prepared his family to move west, Robert H. McClaury tried persuading his neighbors to join him. The trip was expensive, and the complications of moving the household and the younger children took a great deal of planning. The McClaurys sent their oldest children ahead as a vanguard.

Twenty-one-year-old Ebenezer, eighteen-year-old Margaret and fourteen-yearold Edmund (“Eddie”) traveled to Iowa in 1854 and built a cabin on land at the western portion of Benton County.

Some Indians continued to hunt and trade as they roamed the sparsely settled countryside. One memorable day, Margaret was alone in the cabin while her brothers were out hunting for game. An Indian hunter walked into her home, uninvited. She was terrified—unsure whether or not he meant her harm—and watched in silence while he squatted by the fire, warming himself.

When he stood up and pulled his blanket around himself, he pointed to the sugar and the tea, then to the brace of turkeys slung over his shoulder. Margaret gladly made the exchange and the Indian silently went away.

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