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The Gamblers’ War in Tombstone

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552 posts В• Page 114 of 464

Gambling cowboy pandemonium

Postby Vozshura В» 22.01.2020

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The blood feud with the Sheriff John Behan—Cowboy faction would never have happened. No Vendetta. The Earps and Holliday were prominent Easterners. Each side had kept to its own territory and formed its own cliques, the massive barrier of the Continental Divide minimizing contact between them — until Once the run on silver was in full gallop, the Slopers and the Easterners soon collided in Tombstone.

Gambling parlors sprang up first in tent saloons, then in jacals, adobes and, finally, board-and-brick edifices of several stories and towering pretensions. By June , Tombstone was ready, indeed was clamoring, for an elegant gambling den in which it could see its prosperity, both real and anticipated, mirrored.

Jim Vizina and Ben Cook, mining men and entrepreneurs, owned a substantial structure at the corner of Fifth and Allen streets in Tombstone and agreed to lease the premises to Milton E. Joyce and Co. The Oriental was all the brand-spanking-new town with lofty dreams could have hoped for. Last evening the portals were thrown open and the public permitted to gaze upon the most elegantly furnished saloon this side of the Golden Gate. Twenty-eight burners suspended in neat chandeliers afforded an illumination of ample brilliancy and the bright rays reflected from the many colored crystals in the bar sparkled like a December icing in the sunshine.

The saloon comprises two apartments. To the right of the main entrance is the bar, beautifully carved, finished in white and gilt and capped with a handsomely polished top.

In the rear of this stand a brace of sideboards…. They were made for the Baldwin Hotel, of San Francisco…. The back apartment is covered with a brilliant body brussels [ sic ] carpet and suitably furnished after the style of a grand club room, with conveniences for the wily dealers in polished ivory….

Tombstone has taken the lead and [to] Messrs. In a land where men were intoxicated with the prospect of limitless wealth, and suckers galore were eager to spend their silver on a spree, this was a franchise worth having — fighting for if need be.

Rickabaugh, Harris and partners began dealing pasteboards and raking in loose change on July 21, At this point, there is no indication the Earp brothers were more than casual players in the Oriental. For the time being they were placing their bets elsewhere, most heavily in mining properties. For his part, Doc Holliday was still residing in the territorial capital of Prescott, rooming with future acting-governor John J. When the Earp caravan pulled out of Prescott for Tombstone in November , Holliday chose to remain behind, preferring to let the brothers scout out the new town while he stayed with a sure thing in the bustling center of government, instructing initiates in the mysteries of the faro box and collecting a handsome fee for his expertise.

Since by the one-time dentist was making his living almost exclusively at the green felt tables, it was a sensible choice. The Slopers were quick to size up the opportunities in Tombstone. Their leader was John E. Tyler, a year-old Texan. Before deciding to exploit the silver boom in Arizona Territory, he had spent time in San Francisco, and a killing blotted his record there.

A petition circulated at the Oriental on August 18, , less than a month after it opened, bore his name along with the signatures of such dubious characters as Pete Spencer, Andrew Ames and Andy McCauly. Direct evidence as to where Tyler and Holliday first crossed paths is lacking, but a compelling possibility is at the San Augustin Festival in Tucson during late August and early September Tyler of Tombstone had registered at the Palace Hotel the previous day, and August 27 marked the grand opening of the festival.

It was a magnet for gamblers from far and wide. Given the proclivities of the brothers, it is safe to assume they would have made a pasear or two through the gambling enclosure before leaving town.

Friends interfered and further hostilities were prevented. Joyce, one of the proprietors and a man named Doc Holliday…. Shortly before the shooting referred to occurred, Holliday and Joyce [Tyler? Tyler complied and Joyce made the same request to Holliday. Holliday demurred and Joyce and he got into an altercation. After both were disarmed, Tyler simply walked out of the saloon.

Perhaps he was trying to curry favor with Joyce or saw no point doing battle without a weapon. At any rate, it would appear he did not leave because he felt himself outnumbered.

On October 10, , Wyatt Earp had no interest in the Oriental gambling concession. Wyatt became one of two deputies patrolling the vast tract of southwest Pima County, but soon after Wyatt received his commission, the other deputy, Newton J. Babcock, was confined to his room with an extended siege of illness.

Reports in the local press make it clear that Wyatt was kept busy attending to legal duties from late July to early November That done, he continued to prospect, staking claims to mines and water rights, but now he had time to look to other avenues of enterprise as well. Dunlap — had thrown in their lot with the Easterners, even though Rickabaugh and Clark had come to Tombstone from San Francisco. In fact, the relationships in this turf war were far from simple.

These two were certainly in competition with Rickabaugh, et al. Holliday may well have turned up in Tombstone by September , not to reunite with the Earps but at the behest of Harris, to act as an enforcer and fend off Tyler and his troublemakers.

This possibility becomes more likely since Luke Short, another former Dodge City gambler handy with a six-gun, arrived in Tombstone at about the same time as Holliday, late fall or early winter of , and not, as generally believed, with Bat Masterson in February As wound down, Harris may have imported at least two gunmen to protect his interest. Events forced him to intervene. However, Wells Fargo payroll records do not show Wyatt as a paid employee until June Eight months later would be early in And it was during January and February that the Citizens League, a vigilante organization, held secret meetings to discuss how to halt excess violence in Tombstone.

Masterson did not leave Dodge City for Tombstone until February 8, The showdown came shortly thereafter. John Tyler made a bold play to take over the Oriental by jabbing his six-shooter at Lou Rickabaugh as the stocky faro dealer sat behind a pile of chips. Throughout his life, Wyatt was handy with his mitts, and it would be completely in character for him to prefer manhandling Tyler to shooting his lights out.

The Earp-Tyler encounter must have occurred sometime in mid-February , and within days of it a veteran gunman named Charles Storms rode into Tombstone from El Paso. On February 25, he and Luke Short tangled inside the Oriental.

All seemed calm, but later in the day Storms reappeared and met Short outside the saloon to settle their differences. Short beat Storms to the draw and put a bullet through his heart.

Indefatigable diarist George Parsons dashed to the scene:. Quite peaceable times lately, but today the monotony was broken by the shooting of Chas. Storms by Luke Short. Both gamblers. Trouble brewing during night and morning and S probable aggressor through [ sic ] very drunk. He was game to the last and after being shot through the heart by a desperate effort steadying revolver with both hands fired — four shots in all….

Short very unconcerned after shooting—probably a case of kill or be killed…the faro games went on right as though nothing had happened…. The Short-Storms affair appears to have been no more than a drunken brawl with a fatal outcome. But the National Police Gazette of July 21, , gives the story a different color. In February , the Tombstone papers did not mention Storms being a hired gun, but they may not have been in the know or else did not wish to scare off potential capitalists with the gory details of a gang war raging in town.

Facing a phalanx of Short, Earp and Holliday, recently reinforced by Masterson and Dan Tipton, Tyler and the rest of the Slopers must have felt desperate measures were called for. But their plan backfired — the death of Storms writing finis to their dreams of controlling the Oriental. There is some evidence that Milt Joyce took control of the gambling rooms after Storms was killed.

Parsons recorded on March 1, , that Joyce had shut down the games following another shooting, in the a. Kelly may have been a member of a third gang, led by Big Ed Burns. A chronic hell-raiser, Burns had fled Leadville, Colo. He subsequently gathered up a gang of rounders, thugs and confidence men and took over the railway depot of Benson, north of Tombstone. Milt Joyce gave up his lease on the Oriental saloon in July , when Vizina and Cook rebuilt the structure following a disastrous fire that ravaged downtown.

From July to January , Lou Rickabaugh was in complete control, and Wyatt Earp continued to collect his quarter interest in the games, free of outside interference. John Tyler remained in Tombstone until at least late May , when the Tucson Daily Citizen printed a dispatch telling of the highest-stakes poker game yet seen in the camp. When next he turns up, it is almost a year later in Leadville, still plying his trade as a faro dealer and still nursing a grudge against Doc Holliday.

This article was written by Roger Jay and originally appeared in the October issue of Wild West. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Wild West magazine today!

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Postby Jucage В» 22.01.2020

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Postby Dir В» 22.01.2020

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Postby Mujora В» 22.01.2020

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Postby Yorg В» 22.01.2020

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Postby Goltill В» 22.01.2020

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