Monday, October 23, 2017

The Vicar of Tombstone

The Vicar of Tombstone

For the last six months, since Palm Sunday, I have been the priest principally serving the small congregation of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Tombstone. As I came here the first time to serve, I thought of a predecessor, young Endicott Peabody, who had taken the same road 135 years ago and served about six months. He had a predecessor, who had a brief and unsatisfactory tenure around the time of the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral. He arrived with the blessing of the new missionary bishop of the Arizona Territory and at the invitation of a town resident, a friend of the family. I arrived at the suggestion of the bishop and at the invitation of the congregation.

Young Peabody had arrived atop a stagecoach; the driver regaling him with stories of a stagecoach robbery on that route not six months before. I arrived by automobile, on the same road, with stories of that same robbery, and other crimes, regaled upon me by sources written and oral.

That robbery was or was not with the connivance of John (Doc) Holliday, who did or did not leave town on a rented horse at exactly the time of the robbery.

It seems like every incident in Tombstone and environs has at least two versions. Everybody has an opinion, and a couple of spares. Most recently, gunfire erupted in a saloon named for the same hot-headed dentist. In this case, versions diverge. The bar owner, and the man charged for discharging a pistol inside a saloon, have published versions of their own, the former in his own newspaper and on his own Facebook page, while the person receiving the bullet, and law enforcement, and other interested parties, have a different tale to tell.

The medevac helicopter from Saint David did or did not airlift the injured party to the medical center in Tucson. And so forth.

Back in the day the stagecoach driver did not take selfies, nor did his paying passengers post anything on social media about their experience. Nevertheless versions of the story abounded, and rebounded, on said doctor. For as noted above, that fall also saw the infamous shootout in the narrow confines of an alley behind a livery stable. The mortally wounded fell on the street corner of Third and Fremont. My church was across the street and a block north of that corner....

(To be continued.)

Eliza Linley My ancestor, Martin Ruter Peel, was a mining engineer in Tombstone, shot and killed for the copper mine payroll he was carrying from the bank to the mine in 1882. His father was the judge. Wyatt Earp came to the house to offer to find and kill the two men who shot him, but Judge Peel would have none of it, as it was not a legal solution. Never mind,the two murderers fled across the border and were killed for the stolen payroll. Exciting times. Welcome to Tombstone, vicar! (Martin is buried at Boot Hill).
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October 24 at 1:39pmEdited ... from facebook page comments.

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