Longarm 372: Longarm and the Pleasant Valley War
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He was ambushed, shot and killed by Tom Graham, who beheaded the corpse and buried it where the worker fell. He never returned, and his horse and rifle were recovered near the Tewskbury ranch.
Along the way, a Tewksbury enemy, Tom Tucker, joined Hamp in their pursuit. They tracked down the Tewksburys at a sheepherder's ranch owned by George Newton. Hamp and his gang asked Newton for some food, but they were met by Ed Tewksbury, who told them to go away. Things became violent when the Tewksburys drew their guns at Hamp's gang, and a shootout occurred in which Hamp Blevins and John Payne were killed.
When the Grahams came back to bury the bodies, they found the ranch burned to the ground, and the Tewksburys were nowhere to be seen. On August 17, , William Graham was rounding up his family's horses when he was shot in the gut.
The young man managed to ride away back to his home but his wound was so severe that when he arrived his intestines were hanging from his belly. He identified Ed Tewksbury as his murderer to his brothers before he died. Houck confessed that he was the man who shot Willy Graham after he mistook him for his brother John Graham. Many people in the valley believed, though, that this was just a ruse to keep the allegations away from Ed Tewksbury.
In September , the Graham faction rode to the Tewksbury cabin in the early morning. They hid in the foliage and spotted John Tewksbury, Jr. They ambushed and killed both men. The Grahams then went to the cabin and continued firing at it for hours, with fire returned from within.
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According to some accounts, the Grahams did not offer a truce , but John Tewksbury's wife, Eva, came out of the cabin with a shovel. The firing stopped while she scooped out shallow graves for her husband and his companion. Firing on both sides resumed once she was back inside, but no further deaths occurred that day. Historian Joseph G.
Rosa disputed this account, however, and believed that the bodies lay where they fell until morning. When the law was approaching their positions, the Graham faction quickly rode away. A few days later, Andy Cooper, one of the leaders of the Graham faction, was overheard in a store in Holbrook , bragging that he had shot and killed both John Tewksbury and William Jacobs. Commodore Perry Owens , newly elected sheriff for Apache County , was a former cowboy turned lawman.
At that time he was known for his skills as a gunman, being able to accurately shoot one pistol in each hand. He made a name for himself in his skirmishes with neighboring Apaches and Navajo. The Blevinses, on the other hand, were notorious for their cattle rustling activities and cold-blooded murders in and out of the territory. As soon as Owens heard of the Blevins' whereabouts, he rode alone to the Blevins house in Holbrook to serve a warrant, carrying a Winchester rifle. Twelve members of the Blevins family were present at the house that day.
Owens stated that he had an outstanding warrant for Andy Blevins and asked him to come out of the house. His half-brother, John Blevins, came out the front door and fired a shot at Owens with a rifle. Owens returned fire, wounding John and killing Andy.
A friend of the family named Mose Roberts, who was in a back room, jumped through a window at the side of the house. Owens, hearing the noise, ran to the side of the house and fired on Roberts, killing him. It is disputed as to whether Roberts was armed or not. Some reports indicate he was armed with a rifle, others allege that he was unarmed. It has also been said that he went out the window only to avoid bullets that passed into his room.
At that moment, year-old Sam Houston Blevins ran outside, armed with a pistol picked up next to the body of his brother Andy. Owens shot and killed him, as the boy fired on Owens; Sam died in his mother's arms. Witnesses said the gunfight took less than a minute; it resulted in three dead and one wounded.
Despite being fired at, Owens was not injured. The afternoon made Owens a legend but further inflamed the feud. Owens was not indicted , and his shootings were ruled as self defense by the three coroner's juries called to review each death. The cases were never prosecuted, and Owens lost his position as sheriff. After the murder of a Graham sympathizer named Henry Middleton, Sheriff William Mulvenon of Prescott, Arizona , led a posse in an attempt to finally quell the war.
His instructions came directly from Governor Conrad Zulick , and he left Prescott in September 10, His posse made a stop at Haigler ranch in the northern side of the valley, and six others such as Tewksbury ally J. Houck reinforced his pack. The posse hid themselves behind a stone wall and waited, before surprising John and Charles and ordering them to put up their hands. During the grand jury hearing concerning the events at the Perkins Store, Mulvenon said that Graham and Blevins tried to reach for their guns, forcing him and his posse to shoot them.
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Blevins died quickly, and Houck ran up to the mortally wounded Graham and shot him dead. Some posse members were unaware of this understanding and didn't fire. McKinney intervened to stop Houck and Mulvenon from shooting the dying Blevins again. A grand jury indicted Mulvenon for the murders, but he was found not guilty despite persuasive testimony from posse members Fairchild, McKinney and Weatherford.
Six weeks later, Al Rose, participant in the Graham faction, was killed by eight unknown men wearing long coats and masks near the Houldon ranch belonging to the Grahams.
It was very likely during this stage that outsider and known assassin Tom Horn participated, possibly as a killer for hire, but it is unknown which side employed him, and both sides suffered several murders for which no suspect was ever identified. In his autobiography, however, Horn writes: "Early in April of , some of the boys came down from the Pleasant Valley, where there was a big rustler war going on and the rustlers were getting the best of the game. Over the next few years after , several lynchings and unsolved murders of members of both factions took place, often committed by masked men.
The elder John Tewksbury died of natural causes. One of the Tewksburys' allies, George Newton, drowned in the Salt River on his way either to his ranch or a meeting with Ed Tewksbury, and many, including his family, thought that the Grahams were responsible. With almost all of his clan and allies lost, Tom Graham gave up his residence in Prescott and fled to the Salt River Valley. He soon settled in Tempe and married a minster's daughter named Annie Melton.
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He planned to sell his stock and restart his business in his new-found home. While delivering a load of wheat from a store in August 2, , Tom Graham, the last of the Graham faction involved in the feud, was fatally shot in the back by two assassins. The assassins called to him, and as Tom looked over his shoulder, a rifle bullet penetrated his back. Ed Tewksbury was accused of the murder. Defended by well-known Arizona attorney Thomas Fitch , the first trial ended in a mistrial due to a legal technicality.
During the trial, Tom's widow, Annie, attempted to assassinate Ed with a pistol, but it got caught in her dress, and she was promptly removed from the court. The jury in the second trial dead-locked seven to five for acquittal. Steneel — confirmed Ed as one of the murderers. The jury finally closed the case, however, as they deemed that Ed was not present in the place of the murder. Edwin Tewksbury died in Globe, Arizona in April By the time of his release, none of the Grahams remained to retaliate against him, nor was there anyone on the Tewksbury side to have avenged his death had anyone killed him.
Before his death, Ed confessed to his stepmother that he did kill Tom Graham, and he did this by stringing up horses along the route to Tempe. Soon after Tom's murder, a young man named Yost was assassinated while traveling through Reno Pass in the Tonto Basin road. Yost had been connected with the Graham faction, and reports said that he was killed by the Apache Kid. Edwin Tewksbury was the last survivor among the men involved in the Pleasant Valley War. Today, the graves of many of the murdered men can still be seen in the Young, Arizona, cemetery, and the Perkins Store still stands as a museum.