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Spicer? Where Have I Heard That Name? Tombstone Tips Issue 44
November 07, 2020

Insider Info Newsletter

November 2020 - Issue #44


~ ~ Wells Spicer

~ ~ October Events/Insider Update Review

~ ~ The Latest at Tombstone Travel Tips

~ ~ Enter Our Upcoming Newsletter Subscribers Contest! - E-Z Peasy!!


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October 26 is When we Remember
the Gunfight at the OK Corral

#1 - Introduction

~ ~ With October's Gunfight Remembrance, thought we'd bring up a person whose name came up a lot in the aftermath of that Tombstone incident. You've heard his name: Wells Spicer. His career spanned the law, mining, politics & journalism.

~ ~ We'll find out more on this man, born in Chemung NY to farming parents in 1831. At 9 the family moved to Iowa. Growing up, clerking for a judge, Spicer was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1853. At age 25 he married & the next year fathered a son.

~ ~ The family were together in Utah Territory by 1870. Spicer was admitted to the bar there & got into mining in Beaver/Minersville UT area. With marriage troubles, by 1876 they separated.

Minersville Town Hall

Dedicated by photographer to Public Domain
Also Stated Building Was Historic

#2 - Mountain Meadows Massacre Defense

~ ~ John D. Lee was arrested for taking part in a mass killing of emigrants bound for California from Arkansas. The incident involved his membership in a Mormon militia allegedly cooperating with Native Paiutes. Lee & accomplices were jailed near Beaver. The trials were held in Beaver, Utah, not far from Minersville.

~ ~ Somewhere in his travels, Spicer had met Lee. Lee sought Spicer's legal assistance. Wells Spicer enlisted a defense team. Spicer's part in the defense concentrated on motivation, relating to religious fervor overwhelming common sense.

~ ~ No LDS members testified against Lee. The jury had 8 LDS & 4 non. But Wells Spicer took heat from all sides. The LDS Church felt insulted by his defense. Others were angry he was defending Lee - calling him a "Jack Mormon." Conclusion = hung jury.

~ ~ A 2nd trial began. Now the other abettors weren't charged - only Lee. And the jury held all LDS Members. Thus Mormon officials escaped any blame in the matter. Lee was found guilty. Spicer appealed it up to the UT Supreme Court, to no avail. Then appealed for Governor Clemency. Denied because Lee wouldn't confess - he felt he was a scapegoat.

~ ~ If you have an interest for all the details, see this excellent page on the Mountain Meadows Massacre Lee Trials .

Trials Held in Beaver UT

~ ~ On March 22, 1877 Wells Spicer watched as John D. Lee was executed by firing squad. Spicer was U.S. Commissioner for Utah Territory thru 1878, when it ended. He'd been referring to himself as "the unkilled of Mountain Meadows." We can see how this event affected him, & so he left for AZ in 1879.

1877: John D. Lee Seated Left, Next to His Coffin
Spicer is in This Crowd Awaiting Lee's Execution
by Firing Squad

#3 - Wells Spicer in Arizona

~ ~ With journalism experience, his immediate position was with Tucson's Arizona Daily Star.

~ ~ He subsequently began some mining interests. So went to Tombstone. Then was able to practice law. His practice covered California notary & deed work. Plus the agent for New Boston Townsite Company.

~ ~ June of 1880, Wells Spicer was designated Arizona Territory's Justice of the First District Court. His jurisdiction covered Customs & Internal Revenue laws, and U.S. criminal cases.

From Arizona Daily Star - Wed., April 21, 1880

~ ~ The court where he worked his jurisprudence isn't the historic courthouse in Tombstone that we know today. But it's a building that no longer stands. It was located on the West side of 4th Street. Between Allen & Toughnut Streets.

Wells Spicer Photo from 1880

#4 - Spicer's Most Famous Tombstone Case

~ ~ The Gunfight at the OK Corral brought a contentious aftermath to Tombstone AZ. A Coroner's Inquest heard testimony from 9 witnesses. The finding was an objective view of the deaths of Billy Clanton & the McLaurys. Then Ike Clanton filed 1st Degree Murder complaints on the Earps & Holliday. Warrants followed.

~ ~ Wells Spicer conducted the preliminary hearing. To evaluate if a murder charge was proper & thus a trial needed. Officially termed: "Territory of Arizona VS. Morgan Earp, et al Defendants" Spicer devoted his nearly every waking hour for the whole month of November. Giving his conclusion on the 30th.

~ ~ He described his reasoning regarding the witness testimony. He brought up his logic for the circumstances as he viewed them. He brought up the historical context in relationships. And some physical evidence. Spicer cited related law & expectations for law enforcement.

~ ~ Then he gave his decision. That "evidence... in this case, would not, in my judgment, warrant a conviction of the defendants by trial jury.... I do not believe that any trial jury would... find the defendants guilty of any offense."

~ ~ He pointed out the Grand Jury was then in session & could call their own witnesses & disregard his findings. He then ordered the Earps & Holliday released. It was not a wholly popular decision. Many felt he was an Earp partisan - he did partner with Wyatt in liquor & tobacco sales.

~ ~ The Grand Jury did not overrule Wells Spicer's findings, & the Earps & Doc Holliday remained cleared. As far as the historical aspect - looking back at the entire hearing's account - that's a whole other issue, for an entire newsletter!

Sources Say the Hearing Was Here

Next to the 1800s Epitaph Office on Fremont St.

#5 - The Hearing's Aftermath

~ ~ The 2 city newspapers of course took opposite views. The Tombstone Epitaph praised Spicer's decision. The Tombstone Nugget thumbed their nose.

~ ~ Wells Spicer got a hostile letter from "A Miner" dated Dec. 13, 1881. It advised "take your departure for a more genial clime" & "you are liable to get a hole through your coat" & "as you are allowed to dispense Justice... the sooner you depart from us the better..." Concluding with "so you will get it sooner or later..."

~ ~ He indicated he wasn't intimidated by their threats. Over the next several years, he concentrated on his mining interests.

#6 - Sad Ending

~ ~ First the separation from his wife - he always still referred to himself as a married man. Then the Utah incident which brought him much grief. Then the response to his decision on this infamous gun battle in Tombstone. Altogether over the years it seemed to take a toll on his psyche.

~ ~ It's not certain what became of him. He did travel off into the desert while involved in mining ventures, never to be seen again. Several sources feel he may have committed suicide. In 1887 he'd stated he planned to. Another source believes he likely went into Mexico & eventually died there. One thing is certain - his body nor grave was never discovered.

From the Arizona Weekly Citizen
Sat., April 16, 1887 - Pg. 2

~ ~ Historical places & events create curiosity for facts about people who roamed the Tombstone area & the Old West. What's the true story? Can we discover the authentic history?

~ ~ And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.

We hope we'll see you in town sometime, (sigh - eventually in the future!) seeing areas where they spent time - back in the 1800s.

Let us know if you'll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments - & how to credit you.)



~ ~ 1ST - Schieffelin Days

~ ~ The inauguration event - already postponed from April. Went forward in October, although for 2021 it will be back to its regularly planned April.

~ ~ For the circumstances especially, it was deemed a success. People entered the events, & visitors to town picked up more than had been there in the last few months. Some from New Mexico, Colorado & of course throughout Arizona. Got the info & some great pics from those who did attend. Thanks so much to Lillian Hritz for her help. She's the Owner of Lilly's Tombstone Memories . When in town, be sure to visit them at 514 E Allen St.

~ ~ Kevin May provided us with some great pics he took during Schieffelin Days Events:

~ ~ 2ND - Helldorado

~ ~ Many people attended, but not the normal amount. Probably to estimate - around 25% to 30% of the usual non-Pandemic types of crowds. Mayor Dusty Escapule, who was recently re-elected, was the Grand Marshal.

~ ~ The Helldorado Poster specifically featured asking people to mask up - but not many did. We weren't in the mix of it - only virtually.

~ ~ 3RD - Tombstone Territorial Rendezvous

~ ~ The yearly local Tombstone historical event, Oct. 21-25. Sponsored under the auspices of the Wild West History Association. Organized to somewhat accommodate the CDC safety precautions, but also involve personal choice for masks when a facility didn't require it. (The town nor County don't require masks at all.)

~ ~ People were coming in from all over the country. But not as many as usual. We know some of our local friends weren't planning to attend this year for various reasons. We had to forego, as well.

~ ~ 4TH - Tombstone Trunk 'R Treat

~ ~ Sponsored by the Tombstone Fire Dept. Handing out treats from table or car trunks. From the corner of 4th & Allen. All were advised to observe CDC precautions.

~ ~ The whole weekend became a Scary Celebration. Treats & discounts, shows & surprises all over the place.


~ ~ Thanksgiving at Ringo's

~ ~ ~ Every year, you may know, Johnny Ringo's has their generous, wonderful Thanksgiving Day Pot Luck. This year, sadly they had to cancel because of Covid-19. Hopefully they'll be able to be back with it again for 2021!

~ ~ New Tombstone Activity Has Begun

~ ~ ~ We like this idea. We've always loved rodeo. Now some rodeo events are in town! The first time they opened was over the Helldorado Weekend. People came from as far as Utah, from what we heard.

~ ~ ~ We didn't attend - too jammed in for us. But we did get the scoop. Maybe we'll get there sometime.

~ ~ ~ Rodeos are usually held in the evening. We thought it was a great idea - because families need something to keep them occupied in those evening hours. Not just the bars in town. The first opening events, were in the evening.

~ ~ ~ Now we saw a posting for the next events in November - & they're in the daytime. So we're not so sure that's in the town's best interests. Maybe they should do a survey. We'll try to get more details for next time.

Win a 2021 Tombstone Calendar

~ ~ Tombstone 2021 Calendar

~ ~ To Explain - We Do Have a Calendar For Purchase - BUT SUBSCRIBERS - PLEASE READ THIS:

~ ~ We are working with a new company, in the process of designing our calendars for a more efficient purchasing process than we currently use. It takes a little more work in the design & arrangement process - but once complete, it will be better all around.

~ ~ While doing that, we have a few 2021 Tombstone Calendars we've made. To see how they come out & what adjustments are needed. Sizes, arrangements for photos, placement, calendar page, etc. These aren't usable for sale - but they'd suffice for a wall calendar give away. So we'll have a contest for subscribers only. To win these samples.

~ ~ Watch for our 2 follow-up newsletters to be sent out this month. The title: a "Happy Thanksgiving" greeting from us. A short newsletter will have the details for entering.

~ ~ They'll come out the 2nd & 3rd Thursdays of Nov. It will be very simple entry, by just replying to the email newsletter. The easy rules of the contest will be in the newsletter - for subscribers.

~ ~ Please - just check out the easy entry before deciding. But if you're not interested in entering - just delete these 2 emails coming in mid November. And if you should delete them - we do hope you'll still have a Happy Thanksgiving!

~ ~ But if you'd rather just buy the regular one we have available - remember:

~ ~ ~ Our 2021 Calendar is now available for purchase via our Zazzle Tombstone Gift Store . Every month's page is very high quality, with all the nationally celebrated U.S. holidays. Plus the regular famed Tombstone Events. The calendar specifics are also on our website, with the ordering information there - on our Calendar Page.

~ ~ ~ We also have this year, a special Canadian Edition, that has the Canada celebrated holidays. We have quite a few Canadian visitors to our website, our Tombstone Facebook page, & subscribers. And we appreciate them! See the Canadian Calendar Here>

~ ~ ~ When on the Zazzle Store - be sure to watch for Zazzle Discount Codes for your use.

~ ~ AZ COVID-19 - Cochise County & Tombstone AZ

~ ~ ~ Arizona COVID-19 updated state curves: active cases, total new cases, total deaths all up. Summary & links on our COVID-19 Update Info Page. + details on how COVID spreads.

~ ~ ~ As of Nov. 6, in Cochise County, there've been 2331 total cases, which means 412 new cases this past month, 288 are this day active. Now trending up again. Tombstone zip-code map of the same date confirms there have been 13 cases - so new cases over the past month show there is currently 2 active cases there.

~ ~ ~ Please remember that COVID is a respiratory (airborne) disease. Once contracted, though, may affect many body systems & can have long-lasting effects.

So Please Stay Safe! Keep doing what works is a primary key.


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Until Next Month,

Karen & Bill McGowan
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