BACK TO EL PASO

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.

ramblingbob

 

3 Responses to “BACK TO EL PASO”

  1. Barbara Astorga Says:

    My great-grandmother was Pearle Manning, Jim Manning’s daugher. She, for the most part, raised and is the source of the all the finest memories of my mother who is now 80 years old. I realize and recognize that Dallas Stoudenmire and his feud with the Manning brothers along with the “Four Dead in Five Minutes Shootout” were probably the most infamous moments in El Paso’s Old West History, however, along with Stoudenmire’s death, it seems as though stories of the Mannings and El Paso’s place in Old West history seemed to lose their draw. I don’t know if you have interest, but wanted to give you a little follow-up on the Mannings thereafter, especially James as he was my great-grandfather. In return, I wish to know if there are more “personal stories” of his home life, as I actually find his choice of his wife to add SO much to who he was and his choices, even back then, to be a non-drinker (I believe due to the influence of his wife) of such great character and a testament to who Jim Manning actually was. I don’t mean to ramble, but as you (as it appears from my less-than-24-hours-of-online-research seems to know, AND I guess, as you call yourself, “RamblingBob”, you can understand.

    Just to get you a bit side-tracked, Jim Manning’s wife was Leonor Argate. Her father (information contributed by Adamarie Pastrana, Pestalozzi 883, Mexico 12, D.F. when last gathered by a family member) took his family from Asturias, Spain to Cuba in 1870. They had four children. The children were Leonor (Jim Manning’s wife), Paula/Pilar, Angela and David. From Cuba they went to Veracruz and then to Mexico City, Juarez and El Paso, around 1880. It is assumed in my family history that Jim Manning met Leonor at a fiesta in El Paso and they were married around 1881. I know you have oh so many interests in El Paso and other Old West history that a great deal of this may be irrelevant even to you, but I do sincerely believe that a great deal of who Jim Manning was, although by no means as known or famous as Stoudenmire, is rooted in his home life and his marriage to Leonor. Perhaps it is just my desire to share this with someone who finds this history as interesting as I do which encouraged me to share these tidbits with you, but it is also your understanding and acknowledgement that although Jim Manning was by all accounts a saloon owner, the one who shot Stoudenmire, connected to rustlers and Hale and the like, he also was, a businessman and, along with his brothers, a large part of the central backbone of what helped to create the town of El Paso.

    Anyway, Leonor, Jim’s wife, was Spanish (not “Mexican”). Her family was European and along with her came a great deal of Spanish culture and for that time class, which fits quite well with who Jim Manning is said to have been and his (at least in my opinion) gentlemanly ways in many situations which may have been handled differently by one in his position and stature around town. Leonor had a temper, but also a lot of energy and I believe she quite ruled the nest/ranch, if you know what I mean. She was a highly energetic woman, was bi-lingual, an excellent horsewoman and a gifted musician. Her high spirit I think had a great deal to do with Jim’s character. All of these things said, I would greatly appreciate any information you may have of Jim’s home life.

    After Stoudenmire’s death, the Manning brothers moved to Flagstaff. Felix practiced medicine there and died in 1925 (same year Frank died). Shortly thereafter, it is said Jim took up Manning and at one point saved the life of Mr. Ashurst during a mine shaft cave-in (Ashurst later became a senator). In 1890, Jim moved his family to Washington state, but left quite frequently to pursue his own adventures which included copper mining in Parker Arizona. By that time, his family including his wife and all children including Pearle Manning, who was my great-grandmother, moved to Glendale, California. William S. Hart, the actor, asked Jim if he could portray his life story in a movie, however my great-grandfather really didn’t want his past to follow him or his children into California. It was from his refusal that Hart ended up going to neighbors and got the information which led to the fame of Wyatt Earp.

    James Manning died in April 1915 and is born in Glendale, California. During his family’s living in Glendale, his wife Leonor became lquite a well known seamstress. During his many ventures away from home, she established a life of her own and was a seamstress to many wealthy families in Glendale and Hollywood and she created a backbone for her children there. Her daughter Pearle, who grew up at the ranch in El Paso, later married a man, William Robirds, who was famous in his own right for his beautiful painting of homes such as Pickfair (Mary Pickford’s home with Fairbanks) and murals, dishes etc. for the stars.

    Anyway, now you know, I can ramble just as you. Who knows if you will ever read this (only you can let me know this). Who knows if, “What ever happened to Jim Manning”, matters to anyone but me, but I felt the need to at least say to someone this: How interesting Jim Manning was. How interesting, when you read all of the historical reports, that there was this man who along with his brothers are such a solid part of El Paso history, yet how rarely does the story go beyond Stoudenmire. How interesting is it to think about Jim Manning. He was a saloon owner and a foundation to the history of El Paso, a friend to those less than above the law, shot and killed a few less than sober lawmen who were less than his friend, yet he managed, by all accounts to have had some class in his own right. He didn’t drink even though he owned saloons and the theater, carried himself with style, gave people such as Cummings every opportunity to avoid a gunfight and attempted to avoid confrontation AND raised a family with style and grace, as was the nature of his Spanish yet very fiery well-mannered wife and mother of his children.

    Well, Bob, this concludes my ramblings. I, for the most part, take care of my mother these days. Her best memories are those of sharing time with her grandmother Pearle, Jim Manning’s daughter. Pearle was amazing! I know this comes from who her mother was and her loving yet fiery impact to the life and nature of James Manning; he was the heart of the Manning Brothers. How different El Paso history would have been without him!

    I understand your interest in the Old West spans in many directions and with much more focus on the famous gunfights and incidents which formed their historic roots. I understand my input doesn’t add to that drama, but rather, explains how love and family can mold these events into what they were rather than what they could have been. Without the impact of Leonor on James Manning, perhaps there would have been no tale to tell of the “Four Dead in Five Second Shootout” as Hale, who worked for Jim, and Jim and his brothers may not have lived as they did and how different El Paso history might have been.

    Would appreciate knowing you for my mother’s sake, that you at least gained a moments pleasure from these details.

    Sincerely, Barbara Astorga

    • Jaime "Jimmy" Portillo Says:

      Hi Barbara,
      I just read your comment and I was fascinated with your family history. May you please contact me at jimmydazecomics@hotmail.com ? I would like to ask you a few questions. I hope to hear from you.

      Rambling Bob,
      It’s good to know that people out there appreciate El Paso history. Thank you!

      Respectfully,
      Jaime “Jimmy” Portillo

  2. ramblingbob Says:

    Dear Barbara: of course I read rhe full account that youposted, and appreciate your taking the time to send it. I am not a fan of Dallas I simply stumbled across him in one of my books. People seem to like the posts on the gunfighters so I have almost depleted my supply of them. I love all aspects of the history of our earlie west. I have never visited the north east so my intrest in the Revolition War is not to vast. But biggining in 1790 my familys istory there begins and I have followed it wvwr since, I wount up in Missouri in part because one of my triple great grandpa’s followed the Cherokee to the Indian Territory in 1838 (?) more or less. I probably will get started on the Civil War soon (my other love) because I’m running short of western history. But if I did not mention in the article of El Paso I should have, that there are many decendants of the Mannings still there today. I simply did not have much material on them. And as for the rambling, I can’t help it and love it in others, it makes the stories more interesting to me and helps to prevent them going stale. Thanks so much I intend to to try to E-mail you also.

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