Can you give me any information about a photo where, somewhere in Arizona, a group of cowboys had their picture taken with a corpse? I heard they were drinking a toast to the dead man.

Russell Skelley

Cincinnati, Ohio

The photo you’re talking about was taken at Canyon Diablo. On the evening of Saturday, April 8, 1905, two cowboys, John Shaw and Bill Smythe, walked into the Wigwam Saloon in Winslow, bellied up to the bar and bought a couple of drinks. They noticed a dice game going on and a few hundred dollars on the table. They pulled their guns, took the money, and ran towards the train yards, leaving a trail of silver dollars.

They jumped a train bound for Flagstaff, but a posse caught up with them at Canyon Diablo. Smythe was captured but Shaw was killed and buried on the spot. The following evening, the Hash Knife cowboys at the Wigwam were discussing the fact that Shaw never had a chance to finish his drink. “He shouldn’t have to go to his grave thirsty,” one said. So about 15 of them headed for Canyon Diablo, accompanied by a bottle of whiskey, and took a Kodak box camera. There they dug up Shaw. He was actually wearing a mischievous smile when they propped him up, gave him a drink, and took his photo. Afterwards, Shaw was lowered back in the wooden box. Young Marley sang a couple verses of “Bringing in the Sheaves,” and recited a childhood prayer. The unfinished whiskey bottle was tossed into the coffin and the outlaw was re-buried.

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