Wild West Podcast

Traversing the Turbulent Trails of Tombstone: The Tales of Bob Paul, Brazen Bill, and Legendary Frontiersmen

February 25, 2022 Michael King/Brad Smalley
Wild West Podcast
Traversing the Turbulent Trails of Tombstone: The Tales of Bob Paul, Brazen Bill, and Legendary Frontiersmen
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Strap on your boots and prepare to traverse the wild and unforgiving terrain of the Wild West. We're taking you on a perilous journey through Tombstone, Arizona; a hotbed of guns, political strife, and fearsome outlaws. This episode unravels the captivating tale of a stolen election, a fearless lawman named Bob Paul, and of course, the daring escapades of the audacious trickster, Brazen Bill Brastleton. You'll be riveted as we dig into the gritty details of this lawless frontier, where bullets were the judge and jury.

That's not all. We're also spotlighting some of the most legendary gunfighters to have ever roamed the Western frontier. Names that echo through the annals of history like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson. These men didn't just carry guns, they wore their reputation with every bullet they fired. These stories are not just tales of adventure; they're lessons of resilience, audacity, and the relentless spirit of the Wild West. So, put on your cowboy hat, and let's set off on this riveting ride together!

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Speaker 1:

The ready availability of guns in the west led to their everyday use in settling disputes and shooting, wrestling and robbery Guns were common in the west. In addition, men drank heavily, were well armed and did not tolerate any insults or threats leading to contentious men resolving disputes the fastest and easiest way they knew how by reaching for their guns. Many men were ready to draw their weapons to prove their point, win an argument or provide protection for their property or their lives. Others used their weapons to steal Outlaws, used guns to raid towns, rustle cattle, destroy sheep herds, rob trains and stage coaches, burglarize businesses and homes and assault and murder people. The lesser offenses of embezzlement, drunkenness, fights and assaults, disorderly conduct, petty theft, fraud, forgery and arson were usually assigned to hefty fine. However, the old, the young and the weak were generally not wrongdoers' targets and most females were relatively safe. Most of the violence in the old west involved shootings and shootouts among lawmen, tufts, bad men and cowboys. The discharge of firearms within town limits was typical, and even some inebriated law-binding citizens considered it humorous to shoot out local streetlights. She was primarily aimed at stagecoaches, particularly those that were poorly guarded. Highwaymen did not want to tangle with shotguns while robbing the stages of the large companies that were well guarded by formidable gunmen. Wild West Podcast proudly presents Bat, masterson and Tombstone, part 2. The man who Swallowed a Wagon Wheel. As I started to climb into the stagecoach, a man from above yelled out oh hell, no, you climb on up here with me, mr Masterson. The reinsman's name was Bob Paul. I knew him to be a friend of Wyatt. He was noted to be a good fighting man. At 6 feet 6 inches and 240 pounds, he was larger than life. Wyatt told me Paul was a good fellow, a lawman by trade, a mighty, fearless fellow and very lucky on many occasions. So I was delighted to have him on board as our Charlie Damn good to see you, bat. Bob exclaimed this ride will get us all caught up in the goings on in Tombstone. Bob untied the ribbons, pulled up on the lines, released the brake and hollered Get moving. You damn horse, get him up. Bob gave the ribbons one good jerk. As the six horses in front of us pulled hard Up a short sandy slope, throwing up clouds of dust. The stagecoach lurched forward, the horses in full gallop. We were on our way to Tombstone. As the stagecoach tooled south from Benson along the San Pedro River, I became curious about what was in store for me in Tombstone. So I asked Bob, can you tell me what I'll be up against when I arrive at Tombstone? A lot of politics, bob replied. It seems as if the November 2nd election of last year was stolen from me. The man I ran against, shibble, was unexpectedly re-elected. Once elected, he immediately appointed Johnny B Hanne as the new deputy sheriff for the Tombstone region of Pima County. Why do you think the election was stolen? I inquired as I bounced out of my seat after hitting a large rock in the road. I was told that these year Cowboys supporters like Eight Clanton, curly, bill Brocius and Frank McLarry were caught stuffing the ballot boxes. Snarled Bob. Not only that, but the San Simon polling place was moved. Eight Clanton said it was because it was unclear whether its first location was in Arizona or in Mexico. Come to find out that Eight Clanton and Johnny Ringo served as election officials for the precinct, it was moved too. Bob cracked the reins hard. It was almost like the anger within him boiled up, and cracking the reins was like taking a pot off the heat and opening the lid. So I filed suit against Shibble for holding an illegal election. They did not like it much, me filing a suit and all, but they're just gonna have to live with it. Tell me a little more about this chibble feller, I said. How did chibble get to be a law officer in the first place? Well Bette, he's a lifelong Democrat who developed a like into politics. In January 1875 he was appointed a Pima County deputy sheriff by a Tucson mayor, william S Orie, and he held the office for two years. He ran for sheriff in 1876 and held that office for four years until now. What I understand is that he only accomplished one big fee to sheriff. And what was that, I asked? He was head of the posse that killed Bob Brazzleton and arrested Johnny Ringo. Bob looked out over the horses, set to brace himself for an impact as we slid over rocky terrain. Each bump in the road caused Bob's teeth to chatter and me almost losing my hat. However solemnly explained Bob. More trouble is now brewing in Tombstone than a threatened outbreak of a gambler's war. An organized gang of outlaws from the San Simon Valley uses Tombstone as a private playground. Their operations include smuggling, wrestling and stage holdups. Worse still, the residents of Tombstone were choosing upsides for a battle royale. So who are these individuals siding with the outlaws, I questioned. Well, it's hard to say for sure who's siding with the outlaws, replied Bob. I called them apologists. Since these individuals are offering an argument in defense of the outlaws. One of them is John Behan, sheriff of Cochise County, and Harry Woods, editor of the Tombstone Nugget I decided to reflect on Bob's comments. In other words, wyatt is in hot water because he's opposing the outlaws. Yes, responded Bob with a gulp. Not only is Wyatt in opposition to the cowboy gang, but the Irps brothers, along with Doc Holiday and a newcomer to town by the name of Luke Short, are opposing them. In addition, the Irps are back in the law and order league of influential citizens, the foremost of whom was a noted Indian agent by the name of John Clum. So who is John Clum, I asked. From what I know of Clum, he's an Easterner who's been an Apache agent and lawyer, responded Bob. He arrived in Tombstone sometime in January of last year. Within five months, on May 1st 1880, clum started a newspaper by proclaiming in the first issue that no Tombstone is complete without its epitaph, thus giving his newspaper its distinctive name epitaph. He was elected mayor based on his Republican ideas, while promising to represent Tombstone's business interest. Now, batch, is that not a coincidence that you would ask me about Clum while we were talking about Chibble? Bob looked at me with a half smile. You see, clum was in a stagecoach at the time when Bob Brazzleton robbed it. I guess we have time for that story as well. I said so, give me the lowdown on the robbery, as I think it's quite comical that a newspaper man was on board as an eyewitness to a stage robbery. As the story goes, william Whitney Brazzleton had come out of San Francisco, california. It's sad that he was orphaned and lived in an old boiler until he killed a man at the age of 15. Soon after that he became an outlaw. He is alleged to have committed nine stage robberies in Arizona and New Mexico Three near Silver City, including Cook's Canyon, new Mexico, two in Northern Arizona and four near Tucson. He was known to wear a mask over his face and carry a pistol and rifle in one hand while ordering the driver and passengers to hand over any valuables. I sat back in my seat for a moment and closed my eyes to take in the short breeze that came with that sense of balance. Like wisdom, moving yet at a steady, calm pace. It came upon us like quiet meditation. It was then that I heard Bob's voice expanding his tail once more. It was like that time back in 1878 when Bill Brazzleton held up the Tucson-Florence stage, explained Bob, he didn't get away with much cash and it might have been quickly forgotten that there had not been a newspaper man on board. John Clumb, the editor of the two-stone epitaph, was an eyewitness and wrote a colorful account of the event. So naturally the story made the newspapers back east and attracted a lot of attention locally. Now, bob, I hate to interrupt you in this wonderful story, but you said his name was William Whitney Brazzleton. So I need to ask you how we got the moniker Brazen Bill, I was told. But it's not certain that Bill arrived in Prescott in 1876, one year before the Arizona capitol would be moved back to Prescott from Tucson. It wasn't long before he made known that for the price of a coach ticket he would swallow a wagon wheel whole. Now you said what I exclaimed Swallow a wagon wheel. Bob's statement dumbfounded me and I could not wait to hear more. Yes, sir Bat laughed. Bob Brazzleton had passed through the town at the time of an amazing traveling show, so his claim wasn't as incredible as it may sound, you see Bill was a big man, a bit over six feet tall and around 200 pounds. If anyone could swallow a wagon wheel, it was Brazen Bill. He both laughed as Bob paused and quickly doubled over with a slap to his right leg. Wow, I said that is hilarious. On the day of the performance, if we can call it that, the house was filled to capacity. The public spectacle of a man who would swallow a piece of a wagon was too good to pass up. Bill himself collected the money at the gate, assuring the crowds that his troop had just arrived. What the troop was supposed to help with was unclear. Then, as the impatience of the crowd grew, bill announced that he would begin his meal shortly after some brief preparation backstage. Now I guess the audience had a long way to head off. I said I bet Bill was on the bamboozle at this time. Yep, you guessed. It laughed, bob. It was unclear how long the audience sat in their seats waiting to see something remarkable. What is known is Bill was never seen in Prescott again. And more amusing is that the crowd, instead of being angry at the loss of such a small amount of money, reportedly had a good laugh and dubbed Brazen Bill Brasilton, the man who swallowed a wagon wheel. We both laughed and continued onward to a tombstone. We traveled along a range of low desert hills. I looked out into the warm and expansive golden brown deserts that was as wide open as it was ever possible to imagine. The dust lay thick all around us like a winter's first snow. But instead of being spirit-raising brilliant white, it was a depressing dirty gray. Before me, the desert stood as God's own example of how to do so much with so little, to adapt and overcome in a way that brings life Brazen Bill, I thought to myself what a moniker named after a man who would swallow a wagon wheel. Then it came to me To say Bob, you did not finish the story about Brazen Bill. Whatever happened to him, I asked? I can tell you that, but this is the best part of the story, you see. The following week the stage made the same run as Clum had reported. This time it was full of curious tourists who wanted to know where the famous robbery occurred, especially after reading about the first robbery in the newspaper. So when they neared the site where the stage was held up, the passengers grew anxious. One of the passengers called up to the driver, show us where the desperado appeared. The driver pulled up the horses and pointed out towards a large bush. It was right over there. The driver declared, and if be damned, it was Brazen Bill who stepped out from behind that bush. And with a look of startled surprise, the driver added and by God, there he is again. I tell you, bat, it was like deja vu all over again. This time, brazelton's victims were tourists packing cash, and the haul was considerable. Unfortunately for the stage driver, a posse caught up with Bill near Tucson. Well, you can't stop there, I declared. Why not? Laughed Bob. Why, hell, you know why. I replied. You have to tell me what happened near Tombstone. You know who caught up with Bill and how. Bob smiled at me. All right, bat, I'm just funnin' with you. Keep your straps on, for the best part of the story is about to be told. Well, the second robbery happened on August 15th of 78, and these folks who Bill robbed must have been the influential types, because Bill made off with $234 from the passengers. From what I understand, four days later the Pima County Sheriff, charles A Shibble, got involved and led a citizen posse trackin' William Brazelton. It was not long before the pursuing deputies found a fresh trail and followed hoof prints led by the getaway horse. Unfortunately, a rainstorm washed away all traces southeast of Tucson. Nevertheless, the High Woman's luck was clearly turning against him. A break in the case came when a posse member discovered a horse matching the description of the horse ridden during the robbery. The horse was found on David Nimitz Ranch south of Tucson. I now became curious about David Nimitz. It was like Bob's story had pushed a button for needing to know more. How do you suppose that the horse was found on David Nimitz Ranch? I asked you see, bill became friends with David Nimitz, a young rancher who felt pressured to act as an accessory to the robberies. Bob replied Razelton needed Nimitz's place to stable his horses and stock supplies. So Sheriff Shibble arrested Nimitz and accused him of harboring and assisting an outlaw, but stoutly maintained his innocence, claiming the horse had been left in his care by a man he didn't know. Unconvinced, shibble kept the suspect Nimitz in custody. I once had a prisoner like that, refusing to give up information and protect a friend. Or was he just in fear of Razelton's retaliation? I asked how do they break this Nimitz down to get him to confess? That's the real question Bat. Bob replied Many treasurer and future Sheriff Bob Leatherwood eventually broke the impasse. Visiting Nimitz in jail, leatherwood persuaded the prisoner to cooperate after confronting him with the alternative of facing federal male robbery charges. Nimitz then identified William J Brazelton, a former employee of Leatherwood, as the holdup man. Nimitz insisted that he had helped the robber, only become Razelton had threatened him with harm. That was it. Then I said Nimitz was afraid for his life. Yes, you guessed it, bat, said Bob, but Leatherwood's informant had not yet exhausted his usefulness. So, after fingering Brazelton, nimitz agreed to help apprehend him by arranging a resupply of horses at a rendezvous that Shibble and his deputies would also attend. Sounds like a true setup to me. I exclaimed. I can only imagine what's coming next. Bob snapped the reins, enticing the horses to move abruptly, and rested his right boot on the cover board in front of us and looked over in my direction. On the evening of August 19, 1878, a posse consisting of Shibble and deputies Brocaw, charles T Etchels and Leatherwood quietly took up concealed positions near the meeting place arranged by Nimitz. The posse was alerted as a shadowy figure approached and gave the pre-arranged signal within the hour. In reply, a series of muzzle flashes from shotguns and rifles lit up the desert night sky. The posse's target fell to the ground, muttered a few defiant words and then became still Approaching cautiously. The sheriff's men struck matches and identified the mortal remains of the outlaw, william Brazelton. They carried the body back to town where it was put on public display, photographed and buried a short time later. It seems as if Charlie Shibble got the man more so than not, I said. Well, it turns out, bat, that Brazelton's death marked the only instance in which peace officer Charlie Shibble was forced to take a human life. I agree it was curiously carried out, and how the outlaw was killed by ambush without giving him a chance to surrender was never caused for criticism. Once Bob had finished telling the story of Brazen Bill, he locked into a weighty gaze. You know he said Tombstone is a mighty political town, truly divided between two factions, the Democrats and the Republicans. There are some real troubles brewing and it's snared by wild partnerships of greed in those who want power. Bob paused for a second, pointed to the horizon and said See, over, there's Tombstone. We're about a mile out Before my eyes. I could see Tombstone. It was then. I noticed how the Sun and Sky portrayed their impact on the Earth. How the bright sunshine brought infinite hues of red, a pallet of nature and abundance within the frontier, each complimenting the other. More beautiful together than alone. It felt as if the light flowed. The energy within the sky kissed alive the creation around me, no matter how one feels about their destination. My immediate future was before me. Those who desired power awaited me, and the future rested not only on the authority of the empowered but upon the dismissal of the abused and enslaved. So the honest souls can clutch those who wielded power and deter the free help they wrongly offer to heal and move forward those who seek salvation for all. So I felt it was on me to ensure the righteousness of the enslaved. I would soon become a knight of the green cloth defending against the West Coast card sharp slopers in Tombstone. Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you would like to toss us a thought, you can write us at Wild West podcast at gmailcom. You can learn more about the legends of Dodge City by visiting our website at worldfamousgunfightersweeblycom. If you would like to purchase one of our books, you can go to worldfamousgunfightersweeblycom. Slash bookshtml. Join us next time as we take you back in time to Bat Masterson in Tombstone. Part 3, doc. Holiday's Silver Dollar.

Violence and Political Turmoil in Tombstone
The Tale of Brazen Bill
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