John Ringo Grave

John Ringo Historic Site Monument

The Historic Site Monument at the Ringo Gravesite.

If you’ve read about the untamed American frontier and have never heard of Tombstone, Arizona, for shame! This little town is a great place to learn about frontier life in a mining boom town. Tombstone is rife with legends and stories that would keep anyone interested for weeks on end. It was a silver mining town known for its rough-around-the-edges citizens. Names like Wyatt Earp, Curly Bill Brocius, Big Nose Kate, Doc Holliday– are a dime a dozen in the annals of Tombstone history. Tombstone is noted for the longest poker game in history (8 years, 5 months, and 3 days) and the infamous gunfight at the O.K. corral which was primarily between the Earps and the Clantons and McLowerys.

Part of the culture of the “Wild West” was to bury a body along the trail where the person passed away. There was no transporting the body anywhere unless the deceased was close to the rail lines at their time of death. Decomposition was rapid because food didn’t have preservatives and embalming was still in its infancy. Bodies still relatively intact that were found on the trail were buried deep enough to keep the coyotes, vultures or other desert scavengers at bay. Most makeshift graves were covered with rocks and marked with a simple wooden cross near the place the body was found and buried. The practice of leaving a cross or headstone is still observed in parts of the American southwest– though, the bodies are typically transported and interred in an actual cemetery instead of beside the road.

One such body that was found and buried on the trail is the source of much historical intrigue as there is some disagreement over the death of this man whose personal legend is linked to the infamous “Town Too Tough to Die”– Tombstone, Arizona. The body of John Peters Ringo is interred near the oak tree where he was found. A coroner’s inquest was held to determine his cause of death, but not everyone agrees with the verdict. Continue reading

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A Tragic Death in Western Film

I must have driven State Road 79 to Phoenix a dozen times. On each of those travels I’d pass the Tom Mix Wash and, in passing, wonder who Tom Mix was and what he did to be famous enough to have a wash named after himself. It wasn’t until his name came up in connection with a certain Santa Rita Hotel that I remembered the name “Tom Mix” long enough to look him up. That’s when I learned that Tom Mix Wash was where silent film star Tom Mix spent the last moments of his life.

The names Clint Eastwood and John Wayne have been synonymous with western film for as long as I’ve been alive. What I didn’t know was that there was another name that had made the genre popular long before I was born. That fellow was Tom Mix.
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Fort Lowell: Tucson, Arizona

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In mid-August 2005, when I first moved into my apartment complex (Apartment #113), I was single and living solo for the first time EVER. It wasn’t too long after I moved in that I got into a routine: cook dinner, eat, clean up, watch television, climb into bed, read and fall asleep. What an exciting life. I’d been living there a month and I don’t know why, but I started to imagine something watching me from the bedroom door, which was facing the bathroom on the other side of the very short hallway. Of course, I brushed these feelings off as being my wild imagination because I was now living alone. At least, that’s what I suspected at first.

One night, I woke up in the middle of the night. Half-asleep, I stumbled across the hallway to use the facilities. I shut the door, took care of business and washed my hands. Still groggy, I stumbled back to the bathroom door, opened it, and took a step into a very tall and handsome man dressed up in a nice button shirt and jeans– he looked like a cowboy/vaquero. Having run into him, I immediately apologized with a quick, “Sorry, didn’t know you were there” (spoken aloud), and I backtracked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. Continue reading