DALLAS STROUDENMIRE; EL PASO’S STREETS RUN RED
Six foot-four, green eyed with dark brown hair, Dallas Stroudenmire arrived in El Paso, broke and hungey. The city fathers hired him as city marshal almost as soon as his feet touched the ground. Meanwhile George Campbell, in hiding at the Hale ranch railed at the city councle for firing him and made threats against them and anyone they should hire in his place.
Bill Johnson drunk as usual did not know he was out of a job. Stroudenmier found Johnson at the corner of El Paso and San Antonio streets and demanded the keys to the jail. when Johnson took his time retreiving the keys Dallas grabbed and practially turned him upside down to shake them out of his pockets, picking them up he turned and calmly walked away.
From that moment on his friends did let him forget the incedent for the rest of his short life. They plied him with whiskey and he did not draw another sober breath for the rest of his life. He live less than one week when he tried to assassinate Stroudenmire and would die in the streets of El Paso.
There were a lot of diffrent elements that made up the violent life of the small town of El Paso at that time. In addition to Stroudenmire his brother-in-law Doc cummings had followed Dallas in to town. He was refered to as a big man, but records do not exsist as to wheither he was tall, heavy, or both, also no indication as to the Doc exists appearantly he did not pratice any form of medical pratice. Along with Cummings came George Washington Carrico, who became co-founder and first editor of the El Paso TIMES . On his first night in El Paso there was no rooms available at Inn and Carrco slept on a pool table in the hotel with newspaper as a cover and was charged 50 cents for the lidgings which he raged about in his first editorial.
Cummings opened the best resturant in El Paso and called it the Globe, since food was imported from all over the world. His advertisement boasted “No Dust, No Flies”, a almost impossable accomplishment in those days.
A second strong element in El paso was the Manning brothers, Doc, Frank and James. Doc praticed medicine and played the violin and was well thought of.
Frank manning opened a floating saloon which moved with the railhead as it approached El Paso. Once the railroad reached El paso Frank opened the Manning Saloon.
James Manning had once ran for mayor and lost, opened the Coliseum Saloon and Variety Theater. According to publicity the theater had a seating capacity of 1,500 and a stage 30 by 40 feet and carpeted private boxes with elegant lace curtains.
It would really be nice if we could seperate every into neat white and black hats like they do in the movies, but truth be known they all wore various shades of grey (mostly dusted with a little dirt). They all drank heavly, gambled and hated each other with bitter passion, and felt they were in the right while the other was in the wrong.
Meanwhile the Mexican Vaquero who had shot the three excapees from the Jurez prison asked the Texas Rangers for help finding some missing or stolen cattle in the breaks outside of town. Several rangers made a half hearted search and found nothing and left. The vaquero was not satisfied and continued tolook. While eating under a tree a ex-ranger named Chris Pleveler and a hog rustler named Frank Stephenson ambushed and killed them.
The news quikly circulated and on the morning of April 14, 1881 75 armed Mexicans rode into El Paso uttering threats of vegence. they demanded that gus Krempkau of the Texas Rangers to assist in finding the bodies.
by 11 o’clock the bodies were found and returned to El Paso by buckboard. The procession rumbled down the street and stopped in front of Judge Buckler’s office. the judge took a quicl look at the bullet riddled bodies and agreed to a inquest.
Everyone knew the identites of the killers, but Peveler or Stevenson could not be found. The rancher Hale testified that he had witnessed the slayings and that Peveler and Stephenson had fired in self defense. He was supported ex-city marshal Campbell’s decleration.
Inside Judge Buckler’s office, Gus Kempkau served as a translator for the Mexicans. Most everyone thought he favored the Mexicans. Only Judge Buckler’s forsite prevented bloodshed he had had everone check their guns at Paul Keatings Saloon next door.
The whole affair became a stand off and everyone broke up in to small groups. the Mexicans took the bodies back across the Rio Grande. With the crowd dispersing Stroudenmire strolled of to the globe for a bite to eat.
Behind him Gus Krempkau was taking his licks. Carring his rifle under his arm and six-shooter in holster, he left Keating’s saloon and prepared to mount his mule. A very drunk George Campbell growled “Any American that sides with a Mexican should be lynched”.
A red faced Krempkau stepped away from his mule and said “George I hope yopu don’t mean me!”.
“If the shoe fit’s wear it”. Words were exchanged and Krempkua stomped away and reached for the reins of his mule .
John Hale who had been drinking heavly yelled “I got him George’. He fired and hit Krempkua under the heart and knocked him down.
Stroudenmire heard the shot and came running. Dallas did not wear holsters but carried his guns in especial leather lined hip pockets. One he called his belly gun, a short barreled pistol used for close belly poking ranges and his long distance long barreled revolver.
Seeing Hale with a smoking gun in his hand he drew his long distance gun and paused aimed and squezed the trigger and like any trained, praticed gunman, killed a innocent bystander Undaunted , knowing this could happen to anyone, he took aim again and fired again. At that time Hale who had taken cover behind a roof support peaked out to see where Stouudenmire was and was struck between the eyes and tumbled dead.
Now the drunken Campbell backed into the street swinging his pistol from side to side yelling “this is not my fight”. The mortalty wounded Krempkau seeing Campell with gun in hand thought it was him who had shot him. He pulled his own weapon and shot Campbell in the foot and gunhand. The ex-marshall dropped his gun then stooped and picked it up again and Stoudenmire saw him and shot him in the stomach. In less than half a minutes time four men lay dead or dying in El Paso’s streets.
Hale and Campbell were friends of the Mannings and they nursed a hate for Stroudenmier. Even the rangers were upset about the killing of Campbell and said there was no good reason for his shooting. At the Manning saloon former Assistant Marshal Bill Johnson brooded about his job loss to Stroudenmier and his subsquent treatment by him.
The Mannings fuled his resentment by keeping him supplied with free liquor.
Three day later on sunday, April 17, as Marshal Stroudenmier was making his appointed rounds accompined by Doc Cummings (Cumintgs usually tagged along with no offical capacity), they approached El Paso and San Atonio street. A building under construction had a pile of bricks dumped there. Bill Johnson had hidden himself there with a double barrel shotgun borrowed from the Manning’s along with a bottle of whiskey.
After Stoudenmier and Cummings passed Johnson stood and fired both barrels, and missed. Stoudenmier and Cummings promptly shot him to doll rags. Across the street other assissians waited and fired, one shot hitting Stoudenmier in the heel. Stoudenmire put them into flight by charging directly into them.
Stoudenmier went to Ysleta at the ranger camp to recover. Doc formed a vigilante commitie that disbanded after less than twellve days with no action, the only one ever in El Paso.
When Stoudenmier returned, after his heel had healed enough, he found the town split nearly down the middle half hated him and the rest feared him. And everyone expected another round of violence, it was not long in coming.