BACK TO EL PASO
As noted in the last chapter on El Paso the citizen’s of town were braced for another round of violence, and it was not long in coming. The Manning brothers and Dock Cummings were intent on destroying each other.
the Manning brothers George, James and Frank, left Mobile, Alabama moved into the Texas area.George was a physician and married there, Frank never married. James got himself a attractive belle in El Paso de Norte in 1880. There are many fine descendants all over the South West area today.
The Manning’s brought much that was fine to El Paso while at the same time dominating the gambling and liquor supply in El Paso.
Doc Cummings came from the Carolina’s or Alabama, the exact area or date of birth is absent from records. In 1874 he married Dallas Stroudenmire’s sister. He drifted through the south West and in 1881 he and his wife and young daughter were in El Paso where he opened the afore mentioned Globe Restaurant.
Stoudenmier and Cummings were men of similar nature. both were heavy drinkers, quick to fight, explosive and quarrelsome in temperament, and felt a deep feelings of right and wrong. Slow to forgive and intensely loyal to each other.
Doc fed the jail prisoners which meant for the first few months of Stoudenmire’s term as marshal taking the meals to a old adobie room that the local paper said could be escaped from using a pen knife if available. The city eventually ordered two iron cells from a Chicago firm for the princely sum of $900 each. Actually they were cages (one like them can be seen in the old town area od San Juan Capistrano, in the park area). they were a harsh place to exist.
Cummings enjoyed his unofficial status as a jailer with his brother-in-law as marshal. He often made arrests and considered himself as the town police when Dallas was out of town. A Kansas Sheriff came to town on the trail of a rapist, and Dallas sent Doc with him in purist. the two entered into Old Mexico and Doc returned after two weeks. No records show the out come of his sojourn.
Doc returned to a town with no law. both Stoudenmire and his deputy James Gillett were down with influenza. Dallas recovered first with Gillett still down Dallas left for Columbus, Texas to marry. Cummings became the top man in El Paso, with Stoudenmire gone he would Dallas a favor andclean the town of those damn Manning’s.
Things began to come to a head on the evening of February 14, around six o’clock Doc Cummings with his usual capacity of liquor consumption exceeded, began his final stroll down El Paso Street. Leaving the Globe Restaurant he walked to the Coliseum saloon and Variety Theater. The following events are recorded in the coroner’s inquest report.
Cummings asked Jim manning to have a drink with him. Jim refused saying he was a reformed alcholic and had been of the bottle for a year, but offered to sip some cider with him.
doc sat silent for a few minutes, then brought up the subject of last years shooting where four men were killed. He accused the Manning’s of sicking George Campbell and John hale onto Dallas Stoudenmire, and he accused the Manning brothers of inciting Bill Johnson’s shotgun attact upon the marshal. Jim denied any involvement in either incident. Doc cursed him for a liar.
“can’t forget all that” Doc said “Are you fixed?”
Manning removed his coat and hat and draped them over the back of a chair and said “Doc, what is the use of you forcing me to fight? Why can’t we settle this peacefully?”
“Turn your self loose, I’m ready!” Doc said.
“I’ll get on my knees,” Jim pleaded, “I’ll do any thing to settle this in a peaceful manner.”
Doc cursed Manning for a coward and told him to put his coat back on if he couldn’t fight like a man. turning to the bartender David King and with a string of profanities told him to keep his hands above the bar.
“You don’t have to involve him,” Jim said “he has no gun behind the bar. and besides I don’t hire other men to do my fighting for me.”
“If a man worked for the Globe and would not fight for me, Id kick his go—-med ass and fire him.” growled Doc “Put your coat on and lets step out side.”
The two men stepped out side and resumed their augment. Hearing the commotion a drunk came across the street to see what was going on and intervene. He soon found his red nose being pushed back by Doc’s six-shooter and quickly left the scene. Meanwhile Jim had returned back inside.
Doc returned back inside and angrily sat at the bar. again he demanded that Manning drink with him. Manning refused and King tried to support him.
Doc had had all the interruptions he could stand and again ordered King to keep his hands on the bar and to shut up. King said he had no weapons behind the bar and bet Doc $50 he could find none. As they quibbled about the possibility of a gun behind the bar, Jim ordered King to leave the room. The bartender refused saying he would not be ordered out bu a threat.
Manning stepped out into the hallway where he removed his coat and checked his pistol. Seconds later he stepped back into the barroom and said “Alright, Doc, We’ll have this out.”
Doc was in the process of having a drink went for his gun just a little to late. Pistols cracked inside the room andthe smoke blinded everyone, witness and participants (you must remember this was before smokeless powder and gunfire produced huge clouds of bitter smoke.)
Two bullets struck Doc Cummings, he reeled out into El Paso Street. He rolled over onto his back and gave a piercing groan and was dead. the street was silent except for the sound of running feet.
Frank Manning heard the shots and came running and found doc laying in the street and grabbed his pistol and went into the Saloon. “Jim was surrendering his pistol to two deputys and Muttering “I stood this as long as I could, I could take it no more.”
witness testified that Doc fired two times. Examination of his pistol showed two empty chambers on opposite sides of the cylinder, something never explained or investigated.
As for James Manning he admitted shooting Doc two times but his pistol only had one empty chamber, another strange discrepancy no one bothered to investigate.
A autopsy revealed that either bullet would have been fatal, also shsown was the fact that Doc’s skull was fractured. Dr. J. A. McKinney stated the fracture came from being struck over the head by a object. Probably a revolver barrel. This also was never investigated.
the findings of the inquest have not been preserved, But Manning was acquitted on the grounds of self defense. Although never shown to be fact it seems evident that David Kink fired one of the bullets that killed doc and probably struck him over the head.
No further investigation was conducted, it was evident that Doc had started the augment and carried it to the end. He was not killed so much by Manning but his own hatred and evil temperament and liquor.
the Mason’s gave Doc a send of to a small cemetery north of town. Meanwhile the whole town settel back to wait the return of Dallas Stoudenmire.
I hope next time to finish with El Paso.