Allen English was a Tombstone AZ attorney. He was well known in the city of Tombstone, but even throughout all of Arizona. Why are people interested in this historic character?
- There is an Allen English house in historic Tombstone Arizona. That is one reason some may peak their interest. Is that you?
- Or was it because he practiced legalese with a flair? For those researching the legal field.
Come on in to find out! About this educated man who had a wild streak within.
Michigan to Tombstone
Allen English was born in Saginaw Michigan in 1858. His father was in the shipbuilding trade. His mother’s family were of the Fitzgerald name – Irish immigrants to Maryland.1 By 1878, at age 20, Allen had a law degree.3
English made his way to Tombstone in 1880. He decided to try his hand at mining prospects – but no immediate claims turned out for him. Then he met a local attorney and joined up with that law partnership.1 Which is when he began his storied Tombstone reputation. By 1886 he was regularly advertising his services. It was evident from legal notices in local papers, he was acting as a Notary.
Cochise County DA
In May 1887 the County appointed Allen English as the District Attorney. At that time the D.A.’s job was as a prosecutor. But there were times it also called for him to take the defense position.
He developed his renowned style. He was a large fellow, with a booming voice. He loved showmanship. English’s courtroom presentations contained quotes from Shakespeare, Latin phrases, references to mom and the flag1 – all with tear-jerking or solemn drama.
Town-folk would come to court just to observe him in action! He became quite the talk around Tombstone. He had the means for accessing the knowledge of the law. His own law library contained probably more than two thousand volumes, plus multiple others on related subjects. It was said to be “one of the most complete libraries in the West.”4
His first time as the District Attorney he was appointed, after the prior D.A. had resigned. However, his popularity got him reelected for two more terms. It was often commented on in local publications.
Known for His Antics!
One of his shenanigans was to loudly ask for a chew of tobacco from the bailiff.1 Or even from one of the jurors! After some time with that wad in his cheek, he aimed at the spittoon across the room – securing that mass in his target.3
Another incident came about during a typically very dry time of year. He was in King’s Saloon talking with a few others. They got a bet going as to whether it would rain on San Juan Day – June 24th. He bet it wouldn’t. That if it did rain, he’d “strip naked and stand under that water spout.”1
Sure enough, on June 24th it poured rain. True to his word, Allen English was found outside King’s Saloon – naked as the proverbial jaybird! There he was under the water spout.
a Drinking Problem
English was often seen in the saloons in Tombstone. Even when due in court, he was sometimes overdue! And where do you think he was? Holding his own court, reciting legal arguments with friends in a favorite saloon.
One well circulated episode was the closing arguments for the Wiley Morgan case. When due to give his defense statements for Morgan’s appeal trial – again he was a no-show. A search went out to find English. He was found in a bar – quite plastered. The search team just dragged him back to court!1
Would you want to be defended by him in that circumstance? If you were Wiley Morgan? What do you think?? Hmmm! Well – read on for the outcome!
He gave the closing defense with pluck and poise! Morgan’s case ended in a hung jury! Attributed in part to English’s closing argument. Later, upon Allen receiving congratulations – he was confused regarding why all the accolades. He couldn’t recall his defense!!
Morgan was eventually released in June 1903, when scheduled for retrial for the fourth time. Because by that time, no more witnesses were around to appear.
Cash flow was not a strong suit for Allen English. Cash flowed in – and then it flowed out!3
While in Tombstone he was able to retain clients on a consistent basis. His connections with, and knowledge of mining helped him get that clientele. For instance, he was counsel for the well-known Bunker Hill Mining Company.4
He had a way of valuing his legal time at exorbitant rates for a day’s legal billing. For instance, he did some legal work for the Calumet & Arizona Mine, in their purchase of the Irish Mag Mine. He presented them with a bill for $25,000 just for dealing with the title. They paid the account, likely begrudgingly, but then told him they would no longer need any more of his services.1
After that work was finished and he had cash in hand, he rewarded himself by taking his wife on a vacation back East. They spent nearly every cent of the money he’d just earned. When they returned back to Tombstone, Allen English had only $20 left to his name!1
That would be the equivalent of spending just about $700,000 on a vacation today! Can you imagine?!!
Subsequently English purchased the Windsor Hotel in Tucson. Prior owner Martin Costello held the mortgage. He managed to make his payments for three years, but then Allen English defaulted on the mortgage. Costello sued him.
Allen English Surely Was a Married Man
Allen’s first wife was Fannie Rose Carr, they married in 1881. They had two children. But she soon found it difficult to stay with him because of his heavy drinking. She obtained a divorce.1 Fannie and their children are buried in the Tombstone City Cemetery.
In May 1896 Allen English married his second wife. Her name was Miss Annie V. Walsh, who was from Tombstone since childhood.2 They eventually also divorced.
A third wife is mentioned, named Honora Ada. Their marriage ended contentiously in April 1902, with her suing for divorce. He contested her claims of “riotous living” and carousing.
Allen then married his fourth wife. Her name: Josephine M. Alexander. This marriage also did not last.1
Not a Strong Ending
At the turn of the century, Allen English certainly was an experienced attorney. He was well known in Arizona legal circles. Thus he was considered for the position of U.S. District Attorney for the Territory of Arizona. When the choice was made, it wasn’t him.1
He went to the pertinent authorities to inquire why he was rejected. They stated that his application had a photo of him attached. It showed him naked under a water spout outside a bar (remember that story? – linked to the bet about rain on San Juan Day).
[Yikes! Don’t know where that historical photo got to??!!]
Next to that was a note: “This is the man you are considering for U.S. District Attorney?”1 So, in that case, at that time: enough said!
Allen English relocated to Bisbee AZ in late 1907. He found it was better to be situated in the same town as the relocated County Courthouse and County Seat. He partnered there with attorney Tom Bennett.
In Bisbee he continued his considerable drinking binges. One night, someone even found him sprawled on a street-side. The rumor began that he was found dead. But that was not true. Just passed out, fully inebriated.
He died on September 7, 1926 in Douglas Arizona. His health had deteriorated, his funds were fully depleted, and he was really getting by with the help of friends by then. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Bisbee AZ.
It was a sad ending to an imposing Tombstone legendary figure.
English House Tombstone – Part of History
The historic Allen English home can be seen on the Northeast corner of Toughnut and 3rd Streets, 304 East Toughnut Street.
From our knowledge, it’s never been open to the public. There is a sign on the corner that has a summary of why the home is historic. When you read the sign – now you have the insider view of knowing the true historic value of this home.
It has changed ownership several times in recent years. Most recently in 2019. According to real estate people promos, an original back bar from the Oriental Saloon is within the English House! We always wonder if an owner will do something more with the home.
For now – just enjoy thinking back on this plucky, unabashed counselor of olde. While we view this historic Allen English home. Probably in which he didn’t spend a great deal of time relaxing within the confines of the sitting room!
Why not go by that corner, get a look and use your imagination to think back to his wild days! When the Allen English house looked about like this 1903 photo:
1 Eppinga, J. (2014, Nov. 14) Cochise County attorney Allen R. English. Arizona Capitol Times. Retrieved from azcapitoltimes.com/news/2014/11/14/cochise-county-attorney-allen-r-english/
2 Arizona Weekly Citizen (1896, 16 May). Wedding bells do ring: English-Walsh. Tucson Arizona. Retrieved from Newspapers.com
3 Trimble, M. (2018). Arizona oddities: Land of anomalies & tamales. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing Inc.
4 Tombstone Daily Prospector (1903, April). Tombstone in history, romance and wealth. Souvenir Edition Commemorating Arrival of the Railroad to Tombstone, Arizona. Digital Copy Retrieved from books.google.com/