John Peters Ringo B. 05/03/1850 D. 07/13/1882

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The links between the Xs are people
that had a part in Tombstone, AZ history
(Scroll down page for story)

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)

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

Tombstone Pioneers Burial Place
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Mistakes In The Movie Tombstone

For fallacies in the movie Tombstone please visit this web site: http://www.ferncanyonpress.com/tombston/movie.shtml

John Peters Ringo better known as Johnny Ringo, was a cowboy who became a legend of the American Old West because, among other things, of his affiliation with the Clanton Gang and the Gunfight at the OK Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona.

That group of outlaws was known commonly as "the cow-boys" around Tombstone, and Ringo himself was called "the King of the Cowboys". Unfortunately for the reputation of this gunfighter, there is no record that he ever actually had a single gunfight (he did shoot several unarmed men). Even his violent death may have been at his own hand.

Ringo was occasionally erroneously referred to as "Ringgold" by the newspapers of the day, but this was clearly not his name, and there is no evidence that he deliberately used it. The Encyclopędia Britannica confirms the name Ringo.

Ringo was born in Indiana and as a teenager traveled to Texas with his family, eventually making his way to the Arizona Territory. He also lived in Missouri for a short time.

On July 30, 1864, while the Ringo family was traveling through Wyoming on their way to California, Martin Ringo (Johnny's father) stepped out of his wagon while holding a shotgun, which accidentally went off. The shotgun charge entered the right side of his face, exiting the top of his head, scattering his brains. Young John Ringo and the rest of his family buried him on a hillside alongside the trail.

Louis L'Amour wrote that he had found nothing in Old West history to commend John Ringo as a "bad" man. Ringo was instead a surly, bad-tempered man who was worse when he was drinking, and that his main claim to fame was shooting an unarmed man (Louis Hancock) in an Arizona Territory saloon in 1879 for ordering beer after Ringo told him to order whiskey (Hancock survived). L'Amour wrote that he did not understand how Ringo got to be such a "bad man" in legend. Other authors have concluded that perhaps Ringo's memorable name had something to do with it.

By the mid-1870s, Ringo had migrated from San Jose, California to central Texas, specifically the area around Mason County, Texas. Here he befriended an ex-Texas Ranger named Scott Cooley, who was the adopted son of a local rancher named Tim Williamson. For years, relations between the American and German residents of the area had been tense (an extension of the Civil War), since most of the Americans supported the Confederates while the Germans were Union loyalists.

Trouble started when two American rustlers, Elijah and Pete Backus, were dragged from the Mason jail and lynched by a predominantly German mob. Full blown war began on May 13, 1875, when Tim Williamson was arrested by a hostile posse and murdered by a German farmer named Peter Bader. Cooley and his friends, including Johnny Ringo, conducted a terror campaign against their rivals. Officially called the "Mason County War", locally it was called the "Hoodoo War". Cooley retaliated by killing the local German deputy sheriff, John Worley, by shooting him, scalping him, and tossing his body down a well on August 10, 1875.

After the killing of Cooley adherent Mose Beard, Ringo committed his first murder of note on September 25, 1875, when he shot down the man who lured Beard to his death, a man named James Cheyney, while he was washing his hands. Soon after this, Ringo and Scott Cooley mistook Charley Bader for his brother Pete and killed him. Jailed in Burnet, Texas, both men were broken out by their friends.

By November 1876, the Mason County War had petered out after costing a dozen or so lives, Scott Cooley was dead, and Johnny Ringo and his pal George Gladden were locked up once again. One of Ringo's cell mates was notorious killer John Wesley Hardin. Legend has it that Wes Hardin feared Ringo, due to Ringo's ruthlesness and unpredicatable temper. While Gladden was sentenced to 99 years, Ringo appears to have been acquitted. Two years later, Ringo was noted as being a constable in Loyal Valley, Texas. Soon after this, he appeared in Arizona for the first time.

Ringo first turned up around Cochise County, Arizona in 1879 along with his friend Joe Hill, a comrade-in-arms from the Mason County War. For the most part, Johnny Ringo kept to himself, only mingling with the local outlaw element when it suited him. In December 1879, a clearly intoxicated Ringo tried to kill Louis Hancock in a Safford, Arizona saloon when he refused a drink. Hancock survived his wound.

While in and around Tombstone, Arizona, Ringo mostly kept his mouth shut while others walked in fear of him. He probably participated in robberies and killings with the "cowboy" element, and rumor credited him with a high position in the outlaw chain of command, perhaps second only to Curly Bill Brocius.

Johnny Ringo did not openly confront the enemy Earp faction until January 17, 1882, less than three months after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Ringo and Doc Holliday had a public disagreement which might have led to a gunfight. However, before the fight could happen, both were arrested by Tombstone chief of police James Flynn, and hauled before a judge for carrying weapons in town, and both fined.

Two months later, Ringo was suspected by the Earps of taking part in the murder of Morgan Earp on March 18, 1882. Johnny Ringo was deputized by John Behan to apprehend the Earps at the beginning of the Earp Vendetta Ride. Within months, Ringo's best friends were dead or chased out of the area.

On July 13, 1882, Johnny Ringo was found dead in the crotch of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley with a bullet in his right temple. His body had been there around twenty-four hours, and his boots were found tied to the saddle of his horse, which was captured 10 miles away. His death was officially ruled as a suicide.

Many people over the years have been suspected of killing Johnny Ringo, from Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, a tinhorn gambler named Johnny O'Rourke A.K.A Johnny-behind-the-Deuce, Buckskin Frank Leslie, or Lou Cooley. The 1993 film Tombstone, features a dramatic eyeball-to-eyeball showdown where Doc Holliday shoots Ringo dead.

Johnny Ringo is buried exactly at the same spot where his body was found, on the West Turkey Creek Canyon.

Theories of Ringo's death


 


 

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