John Philip Clum B. 09/01/1851  D. 05/02/1932


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About Doc Holiday
About Wyatt Earp

About Virgil Earp

About Morgan Earp

About James Earp

About Warren Earp

About Newton Earp

About William "Curley Bill" Brocius (outlaw)

About Billy Claiborne (outlaw)

About Pete Spence (outlaw)

About Ike Clanton (outlaw)

About Phin Clanton (outlaw)

About Johnny Ringo (outlaw)

About "Old Man" Clanton" (outlaw)

Frank Stillwell (outlaw)

About Frank McLaury (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)
About Tom McLaury (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)

About Billy Clanton (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)

About Johnny Behan (Sheriff)

William Breckinridge (Deputy Sheriff)

About Fred White (Marshal)
About George Parson

About Wells Spicer (Judge)

About George Goodfellow MD

About Nellie Cashman (Angel Of Mercy)

About Big Nose Kate (prostitute & Doc Holiday's girlfriend)

About Ed Schieffelin

About John Clum (editor/publisher of Tombstone Epitaph)


Morgan Earps Death In The Tombstone Epitaph
Tombstone Epitaph Story The Day After The OK Corral Shootout

Tombstone Pioneers Burial Place
Mistakes In The Movie Tombstone

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John Clum was editor/publisher of the Tombstone Epitath

John Philip Clum was an Indian agent in the Arizona territory who had the nickname "White Chief of the Apaches". Clum was also the first mayor of Tombstone, Arizona and founder of the Tombstone Epitaph.

Clum was born on a farm near Claverack, New York. His parents were William Henry and Elizabeth van Duessen Clum; he had five brothers and three sisters.

At 18 he enrolled in Rutgers College. He was a member of Rutgers' first football team and played in the game between Rutgers and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) that marked the first intercollegiate football game in the United States.

In 1873 Clum was offered the position of Indian agent at the San Carlos Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. The San Carlos reservation was in the heart of Apache country, and ranchers and prospectors were plagued by marauding bands of Indians.

During Clum's tenure at San Carlos, he treated the Apaches as friends, employed them as police and established Apache courts with Apache judges to mete out punishment, and encouraged them to take up the peaceful pursuits of farming and raising cattle.

In 1877 the Department of the Interior and the War Department returned U.S. troops to San Carlos to supervise the Apaches, and Clum resigned in protest.

Clum and his wife moved to Tucson, Arizona, and bought a weekly newspaper, the Tucson Citizen. Clum transformed the Citizen into a daily newspaper. For more than two years he published editorials criticizing "the Army of Arizona and the political double-crossers in Washington".

Following the great silver strike in Tombstone, Arizona in 1877, Clum had a new printing press shipped from San Francisco to Tombstone and began publication of the Tombstone Epitaph. He helped organize a Law and Order League to end lawlessness in Tombstone, and his association with that group helped get him elected as Tombstone's first mayor.

Some influential parties in Tombstone were at odds with the goals of the Law and Order League, however, and convinced Clum's partners in the Epitaph to sell the newspaper. The sale prompted Clum to step down as publisher and editor of the Epitaph.

In 1898 Clum was appointed Postal Inspector for the Alaska Territory. During a five-month period he traversed 8,000 miles in the Alaskan territory, equipping existing post offices and establishing seven new post offices.

Clum was later named postmaster for Fairbanks, Alaska, and served in that position until 1909.

After his tenure as the Fairbanks postmaster, Clum left Alaska for California and bought a citrus ranch in San Dimas. In 1928 he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived until his death, in 1931 at age 80.

In Los Angeles Clum was frequently consulted by motion picture producers in regard to portrayal of Native Americans in western movies.



Arizona Newspapers Association Hall of Fame


John P. Clum
Tombstone Epitaph


John P. Clum will be known in the history of Arizona and the West better as the “White Chief of the Apaches” than as the crusading founder and editor of the Tombstone Epitaph, but in both pursuits he was an outstanding figure.

Clum’s life among the Apaches, as the Indian agent at San Carlos, Arizona, is well and dramatically told in the book Apache Agent, by Woodworth Clum. His life as an editor and publisher and the first mayor of Tombstone is contained in the valuable and interesting volume, Fighting Editors, by Jo Ann Schmitt.

The first of the above-named volumes contains information on John P. Clum’s birth and background. Chapter XIV is devoted to the story of his early years. Says this chapter:

The stock was Holland-Dutch, sturdy, God-fearing. Their grandfathers had crowded the Indians from the valley of the Hudson, but they did not even dream that one of their sons would become known as “Natanbetunnykanych,” white chief of the Apaches. Such was destiny.

William Henry Clum married Elizabeth Van Duessen, bought a farm near Clavenrack, and raised six boys and three girls. John Philip Clum was born September 1, 1851, and grew up much as any other rural boy. At 16 he entered the Hudson River Institute at Clavenrack, and immediately joined the cadet corps.

In the summertime he worked in the fields at $2.50 per day and board, and returned to the classroom during the school term. At 18 he entered Rutgers College with some money in reserve and a strong physique. His parents wanted him to study for the ministry.

He liked sports and so became a member of the college’s first football team and played in the game between Rutgers and Princeton, said to be the first football game played between colleges in the United States, and so was the beginning of intercollegiate football in the country. John Clum later described how he enjoyed his journey westward, first on the railroad train, pulled by a “little wood-burning locomotive” through the buffalo country, and then from Kit Carson, Colorado, to Santa Fe by stage coach.

In Santa Fe he found a new culture and a strange language, but adjusted to it. In a few months he was trusted to the extent that the Governor, when he was obliged to be absent from Santa Fe for a time, asked young Clum to take over his “mansion” and look after whatever business was pressing. He enjoyed being called “el gobernador” and having the natives doff their hats to him on the street.

Within a year there came a turn of events that changed the life of John P. Clum and possibly the entire history of the Southwest. Late in November 1873 he received a large, important-looking envelope from the Indian Bureau in Washington. It contained documents tentatively offering him the position of Indian agent at the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, in the center of Apache country, from where reports had been coming of marauding bands that were killing ranchers and prospectors, stealing cattle and spreading fear everywhere.

In spite of his delightful situation in Santa Fe, he accepted the challenge and within a week was on his way to Washington to learn the official requirements of the San Carlos job.

His appointment became effective on February 27, 1874, as soon as President U.S. Grant had signed his commission. He remained in Washington for several weeks while searching out all the information he could find from reports and other sources concerning the history of relations between the government and the Apaches. He wanted to know why those particular Indians had been so “intractable.” When he thought he had discovered the reasons, he began his long journey to Arizona by way of St. Louis, San Francisco, San Diego, Yuma, Tucson and then to San Carlos.

Clum read extensively, and all the evidence he could find pointed to the guilt of his own government in treating the Apaches as savage animals to be exterminated rather than human beings to be protected and taught. As he left the boat that had carried him from San Francisco to San Diego, he was ready to say:

Yes, I read all these things, and I knew the story of the Apache from the white man’s point of view. But it seemed to me that the red man had been getting much of the worst of it. When I climbed into the stage at San Diego on July 3, 1874, enroute to San Carlos, I determined that the Apaches would get a square deal from that time on, if their new agent had anything to say about it.

What happened between Clum’s arrival at San Carlos on August 8, 1874 and the time he left “at the end of July” 1877, is told in much dramatic detail in hundreds of pages of written history of the times.

During those years Clum talked to the Apaches as a friend, employed them as police to control their own tribesmen, established Apache courts with the Apache judges to mete out punishment, and encouraged peaceful pursuits of farming and stock raising.

When the Department of the Interior and the War Department, probably at the insistence of the politicians as charged by Clum, sent troops back to San Carlos to supervise the Apaches, and when Geronimo, whom Clum and his Apache policemen had captured, was released from the guardhouse and rewarded with blankets, clothing and food, Clum could see that his battle for Apache rights and for peace in Arizona was at an end. That brought his resignation, but not before he sent a telegram to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington, which read:

"If your department will increase my salary sufficiently and equip two more companies of Indian police for me, I will volunteer to take care of all Apaches in Arizona—and the troops can be removed."

This offer drew but ridicule and sneers, both from government officials and the press in Arizona.

So John P. Clum, with his bride of less than a year, moved into Tucson where he bought the Arizona Citizen, the leading weekly newspaper. He changed it to a daily and for more than two years used his editorial columns to level accusations at “The Army of Arizona and the political double-crossers in Washington.”

When Clayton A. Smith, publisher of the Tombstone Epitaph in 1950, proposed the name of John P. Clum for membership in the Arizona Newspapers Hall of Fame, it was because of his activities in Tombstone which followed on the heels of his journalistic experience in Tucson. Smith wrote:

When the news of the great silver strike at Tombstone first broke, Clum was publishing the Tucson Citizen. By 1880 it became evident that there really was a future for Arizona’s newest mining camp, and Clum decided to move. He ordered a Washington hand press, type and other equipment from San Francisco. When it reached Tucson, he shipped it by ox cart to Tombstone.

Clum arrived ahead of his printing plant, and fired with ambition, set about organizing his staff. He named his new publication Epitaph, in face of dire predictions from his associates. Undaunted, the publisher went ahead, and on May 1, 1880, the first edition of what was to become the country’s most historically famous newspaper, came off the press.

Many outstanding characters of the Old West found their way to Tombstone, and their names found their way into the pages of the Epitaph. Among them were, of course, the Earps, Doc Holliday, Ike Clanton, the McLowery boys, and Tom, Billy the Kidd (who did not come to Tombstone), Judge Wells Spicer, the famous Nellie Cashman, Johnny-behind-the-deuce, Curly Bill and dozens of other personalities.

Clum had helped to organize the Law and Order League and it was the membership of this group that elected him mayor. It was to them that he turned for continued support for his campaign to stamp out lawlessness. About the time Clum’s crusade began to meet with some success, a change came about which removed him from the center of the stage. Says Schmitt:

Unfortunately, Clum never sees the taming of Tombstone. When the outlaws are unsuccessful in silencing him by threats and bullets, they try other tactics. Clum’s two co-editors are approached. Will they sell the paper? Money talks and Editor Clum finds himself outvoted on the question of sale.

Clum spent his later years in Los Angeles, but in the meantime was sent by the federal government to locate post offices in Alaska. While living in southern California, he was frequently called upon by motion picture producers to serve as consultant on matters pertaining to the Apaches. He died in his Los Angeles home on May 2, 1932 at the age of 80.


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