Frontier Editors

Frontier editors are a hard group to stereotype. Some were torch carriers for justice, seekers of truth and champions of liberty; others were ruthless, writing with pens seemingly dipped in acid and still others stylized their observations in a humorous, light-hearted vein. John Marion of the Prescott Miner, for example, was a political zealot. A staunch Democrat he was so incensed at Republicans engineering the move of the territorial capital to Tucson in 1867, that he supported the Democratic candidate for county attorney despite the fact the rascal had run off with his wife.

John Clum, editor of the Tombstone Epitaph was the target of an assassination attempt following the gunfight near the OK Corral. A duel was fought in Tubac on July 8th 1859 between the local newspaper editor Ed Cross and mine owner Sylvester Mowry. The latter was promoting Arizona and the editor thought he was stretching the truth. The two men, armed with Burnside rifles met on a windy day facing each other from 40 paces. They fired several ineffective shots before calling a halt. The two shootists and their friends descended on the local saloon and took possession of a 42-gallon barrel of prime whiskey.

J. C. Bagg, editor of the Tombstone Prospector, was arrested after he published an editorial exposing some political skullduggery but unfortunately for him one of those he exposed was the judge presiding over his case who proceeded to sentence him to 300 days in jail.

Frontier newspapers were not just of fire, brimstone and politics. Under the “Lonely Hearts” category was Judge William Berry, editor of the Yuma Sentinal, ran under the “Wanted” section a matchmaking service: “A nice, plump, healthy, good natured, good looking domestic and affectionate lady to correspond with. Object matrimony.”

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