The Clanton Gang Ben Schaefer 2 nd Period March 4, 2002 In the middle and late part of the nineteenth century, the West was a harsh and dangerous place to live. Bar fights and murders were being committed in every town. This was acceptable behavior however in those days. Men settled their problems face-to-face, and normally, the slower man ended up dead. Gun fighting in the West was started and carried on by a group of men known as the Clanton Gang. Old Man Clanton was the leader and founder of gun fighting, his sons carried some of his fights and continued with their own fights, and his last surviving son parted with gun fighting and started his own successful business.
Gunfights were common and took place regularly. The earliest gunfighters, or gunslingers, were born in the early 1800’s, and most men got recognition as slingers in the 1850’s. The founder of gun fighting was “Old Man Clanton”, or N. H. Clanton. In 1816, Newman Haynes ‘Old Man’ Clanton was born in Davidson County, Tennessee.
On January 5, 1840 Newman Clanton married Mariah Sexton Kelso in Callaway County, Missouri and together they had five boys and two daughters. John Wesley, Joseph Isaac, Phineas Fay, William Harrison, Alonzo Peter, Mary Elise and Ester Ann made up the Clanton Gang. He did not participate in many gunfights though he instigated many of them. Old Man Clanton took care of business swiftly. If he did not like somebody, he would simply point them out, and one of his sons would provoke an argument and shoot the man down in “self defense.” Old Man Clanton had formed a “cowboy party” which consisted of some of the deadliest men in the West. Curley Bill, John Ringo, Tim and Frank McLaury, Joe Hill, Pony Deal, Jim Hughes, Frank Stillwell and many other lieutenants, who had over four hundred frontier outcast under them, formed this group.
He stole over $100, 000 from ranchers in the south, and anyone who opposed was quickly exterminated. Old Man Clanton’s final days ended with a stolen-cattle drive. While he was passing through Guadeloupe Canyon, he and six other men were ambushed and shot dead out of their saddles. ‘Old Man’ Clanton was buried where he fell in Guadalupe Canyon, New Mexico. Although the leader of the Clanton Gang was dead, the family carried on.
Billy and Ike Clanton were two of the participants in the most famous gunfight of all. The gunfight the occurred at the O. K. Corral.
Billy Clanton was born in 1862, in Hamilton County, Texas. The first confrontation with the Earp family, which led to the O. K. Corral gunfight, was when Billy was caught riding Wyatt’s stolen horse.
Ike Clanton, born in 1847, was also involved in the O. K. Corral shootout. Ike’s involvement in the shootout started when “Doc” Holliday offered him $6000 in reward money to help find, or kill, the men involved in the “stage-coach murders”, and he declined.
Then when Doc was accused of murder in Tombstone, Ike openly expressed his thoughts when Doc was found innocent. All these events led up to the famous gunfight. The date was October 26, 1881, 2: 30 p. m. , and the setting was a vacant lot officially known as lot number two, block 17, in Tombstone, Arizona (internet, #5). Nineteen year old Billy Clanton, thirty-four year old Ike Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury face Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, along with Doc Holliday.
The O. K. Corral Gunfight last 30 seconds, Frank McLaury was dead from a bullet wound to the stomach fired from Wyatt’s gun, Tom McLaury was dead from Doc Holliday’s shotgun, and Billy Clanton was dying from chest wounds (internet, #6). Ike Clanton escaped by running into Fly’s Photo Studio nearby. Billy was rushed into a nearby house screaming in pain. Dr.
N. S. Gibbers on shot Billy full of morphine to ease the pain. As crowds gathered around Billy’s bed, his last words were documented, “Drive the crowd away” (internet, #4).
Jonas V. Brighton murdered Ike Clanton six years later on June 1, 1887 near Springerville, Arizona. In 1843 “Old Man’ Clanton and his wife Mariah had their second son, Phineas Fay Clanton, simply known as ‘Phin’. Phin was born in Callaway County, Missouri. In 1869, now 24 years old, Phin Clanton lived in Lone Pine, California with his oldest brother John Wesley and his wife Nancy. In 1873 Phin moved back to Arizona to help his family with Clintonville, a farming community created by his father Newman H.
Clanton. In 1877 Phin moved down on the San Pedro River, up river from the town of Charleston, Arizona Territory. He also helped his father build a large Adobe house near Lewis Springs, about five miles south of Charleston. This would become known as the Clanton Ranch. On December 28, 1881 Tombstone Police chief Virgil Earp was ambushed while crossing fifth street in Tombstone. He survived the attack, but was crippled for life in his left arm.
Phin and his brother Ike, were both arrested for this attack, but witnesses confirmed that they were both in Charleston, 12 miles away when the shooting took place. On December 27, 1885, the Apache County treasurer’s office safe was broken into and it’s entire contents stolen. Deputy Treasurer Francisco Baca claimed that masked robbers came to his house, took him down to the treasurer’s office and made him open the safe. He claimed he knew the robbers, they were Phin and Ike Clanton, Eb in Stanley and Lee Renfro of Springerville, and Mr.
buck Henderson of St. Johns. The men were taken into custody, immediately place bonds and it went to trial. The court found that ex-treasurer Francisco Baca concocted the whole story himself. Ultimately Baca was found guilty of embezzling $11, 166. 54.
All the alleged robbers were found not guilty. In September 1887 Phin Clanton was convicted on one indictment of grand larceny. He was sentenced to ten years in the Yuma Arizona State Prison. He was pardoned on March 15, 1889 after serving one year and five months of the ten-year prison sentence. It was found that the main witness against Phin lied on the stand to collect a two hundred and fifty dollar reward. On March 24, 1889 Phin Clanton was released from the Yuma prison.
After his release from prison, Phin Clanton and his friend Peter Spencer began working as business partners raising goats on Phin’s ranch in Globe, Arizona. On January 5, 1905 Phin Clanton dies at the age of 61 in Webster Springs, Gila County, Arizona. Phin was buried in the Globe Cemetery. Also, on April 2, 1910 Phin Clanton’s widow Laura Jane marries his best friend and business associate Peter Spencer. Phin was the only man in the family who was not killed by a gun, in a gunfight or murder. Gunfights and the beginning of gun fighting revolved around gangs, and the Clanton gang was the one of the most powerful, rich, and deadly gangs in the West.
The Clanton’s were very successful in all their businesses and were very skilled gunfighters, but the end of the Clanton’s came abruptly and the greatest gang on in the history of the West, was no more. Worked Cited 1. Richard Collins. Rosa, Joseph G.
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William C. Davis, Joseph G. Rosa. The West: From Lewis and Clark and Wounded Knee: The Turbulent Story of the Settling of Frontier America. London, England: Salamander Books Ltd, 1994. 3.
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Corral Gun Fight.” (American Western History Museums). 1999. February 20, 2002. .