Now if you have seen the movie “Tombstone” with Kurt Russel and Val Kilmer you will remember the characters Johnnie Ringo.  He did exist and was present in tombstone at the time of the Earp’s and Holiday.  The movie would have you believe that Doc Holiday and John Ringo dueled and Doc killed Ringo.   However history seems to state otherwise.

     Ringo was     believed to have been born in Missouri sometime in the 1850’s.  He was a kind of ladies man and exhibited a raw courage and fearlessness, however there is little evidence that he killed a lot of people.

     John Ringo appealed on the scene of Texas during the 1870’s.  there he was involved in what was known as the Sutton-Taylor feud.  Landing jail on several occasions he then wandered to Shakespeare, New Mexico, then on to Tombstone, Arizona.  He appeared to have received a well founded education,, and quoted freely by memory  the bards of yesterday.

      It is said that if he kept poetry in his soul, he kept rot whiskey in his gut by the gallon.  He war-ed within between drunkenness and depression.  He often rode off in solitary solitude for days on end.

     His violent trigger temper kept him in constant trouble.  One such occasion happened when in a saloon a drunk made harsh remarks about one of the ladies plying her trade.  John smashed his head in and as he fell to the floor shot him through the throat.  the unfortunate fellow was buried the next day at Row 8 in boot Hill.

     Ringo was a ardent supporter of the Clantons in their feud with the Earp’s.  He hated Doc Holliday with all his heart, and Doc returned the same in like.  On several occasions only the intervention of various allies kept the hatred from erupting in gun fire.

     Ringo was absent when the fight at the O K corral happened.  It only fueled his hatred toward the Earp’s and Holliday.  It is almost certain that he was one of the ambushers that crippled Virgil Earp for life on the night of December 28, 1881.

     It was only about six months later that Ringo was found dead under one of the most puzzling circumstances in western history.  Ringo, Buckskin Frank Leslie and Billy Clayborne all notorious gunmen rode out of tombstone after a drunken spree.  The following day they split up going their separate ways.  the following day on July 14 a man came into town with a story of a body found sitting under a tree in Turkey Creek Canyon in the San Simon Valley.

      Ringo was found there with a pistol in one hand, with a single shot fired.  His newly purchased boots tied to his saddle, too small for his feet.  His swollen feet were bound with torn strips of his undershirt; otherwise he was fully clothed.  A wound large enough to insert two fingers was between his right eye and ear.  found in his pockets was $2.60 in change, a pocket comb, a watch and several other sundry items.  Such is the wealth of a petty crook and gunman.

    the inquest agreed that John ringo had committed suicide, biased on the fact the gun was found in his right hand, and the fact that Ringo had often talked of suicide.  However unexplained and probably not even investigated was the fact that his cartridge belt was on upside down and the appearance that someone had tried to scalp him.


     In a strange twist of fate, I had planned to write of Jack Slade yesterday.  On the Encore channel on cable I watch the western channel when they have something I haven’t seen a hundred time before (which my wife cannot understand).  Yesterday afternoon they had the old black-and white 1953 movie “Jack Slade” which I have seen, not quite a hundred times.  The movie does have most of the known facts of Slade’s story recounted with Hollywood interpretations.

     Slade was a strange gunman similar to John Ringo.  He grew up in Carlye, Illinois and served in the Mexican War, which apparent whetted his taste for blood and thunder.  He hired as a trouble-shooter for the Overland Stage.  Slade is described as a short. roll-poly, often schizophrenic fellow.  Slade also married one of the prettiest girls in the area, named Virginia who weighed about 160# (why this seems important I have no Idea).

     Slade was a hard working fool, a fighting fool and a drinking fool (so the book says) and he would do any of the three with great vigor.  the company dispatched hi to Juelsburg as division manager, all he had to do was clean up the mess there.

     A Frenchman named Jules Beni had stolen many of the company’s horses.  and according to local rumor had killed and disposed of several emigrants.  Jules proved to be no push over for Slade.

     the two men met in the street and Slade found right away he should have stayed at the main office.  Beni open fire right away and his first two shots knocked Slade from his feet.  Firing three more times he hit the fallen man each time.  Not satisfied he obtained a shotgun and fired into Slade again.  In all Slade suffered thirteen bullet wounds.  Slade survived after several employees carried him into the bunk-house and laid him on a bunk.  after a very long period of time he recovered.

     One on his feet Slade offered a $500 bounty to anyone who would deliver Beni to him.  With that kind of money on the table four cowboys caught the unfortunate Beni and dragged him in.

     Slade tied him to a fence post and drawing heavily from a whiskey bottle proceeded to shoot him in the arms and legs.  Finally he placed his pistol barrel into Beni”s  mouth and pulled the trigger.  he then cut his ears off and carried the on his watch fob for years.

    Drinking then became a serious problem for the rest of his life and management fired him.  He and his wife Virginia moved to Wyoming where Jack killed a man in a drunken brawl.  Then it was off to Virginia City (it has been claimed, wrongly that the town was named after Slade’s wife).  there they started ranching out side of town.  They seemed to have a agreement she would run the ranch and Jack would go to town and drink and make sure the saloons stayed solvent.

     Jack did not kill anyone in Virginia City, the most that could be said about him was that he was a bully, drunk and general nuisance.  He stormed through town breaking windows, overturning bars and smashing doors.  The end came when he several drunken buddies unhitched the horse from the milk wagon and pushed it down the steep street.  laughing i glee as the towns supply of milk when splashing and smashing end over end down the steep hill.

     This proved to be too much for the vigilantes, famed for action in Virginia City.  The group had already captured and hung the famed Plummer gang.  so grabbing their shotguns and rifles they went after Jack Slade and hustled him off to the cross bars of a corral gate.   all of a sudden Jack knew he was in real trouble, so he sent someone after his wife.  If she just could get therein time she would save him with a few choice cuss words or a well-placed rifle-shot.

      They hung him anyway before she could make the eight mile return trip.  When she arrived there a hour later they had just cut him down.  She threw herself across his body and screamed “Why didn’t you just shoot him, and not make him endure the shame of being hanged?”

     Since he loved booze so much Virginia dipped his body in raw alcohol and shipped it to Salt Lake City.  On July 20`864 the Mormons furnished a grave site for Jack Slade.

    Virginia sold the ranch and remarried then divorced.  No one is quite sure what happened to her after that, it is said she died in Omahol or Chicago while running a brothel.

      And so ends the tale of two of the old wests mysterious charactors .  

Thanks for sharing this campfire, coffee’s always on stop by again.



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