atm-logoI cowboyed with a man named John Tisdale in Wyoming in my youth. Didn’t a man by that name get killed in the Johnson County War?

R.W. Garvey
Prescott, Arizona

You are correct; maybe the two men are related. The Johnson County conflict was a series of range wars between large cattle operations and small settlers in Johnson County, Wyoming, fighting over open range and unbranded calves, between 1889 and 1893.

During the Johnson County War, small rancher John Tisdale was shot in the back on December 1, 1891. Former Johnson County Sheriff Frank Canton—a hired gun for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association—was implicated in that case and the ambush death of Orley “Ranger” Jones three days earlier. Canton was arrested, but released after a judicial hearing.

The next April, Canton was the top gunman in the stockman’s “invasion” of Wyoming, which resulted in the deaths of alleged rustlers and small ranchers Nate Champion and Nick Ray.

Canton and the invaders were eventually cornered at the TA Ranch by citizens and arrested. None of the invaders was ever tried.

I was up there a few years ago, and many of those Johnson County citizens are still mad over the way their ancestors were treated by the state of Wyoming. Canton and his cronies literally got away with murde

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.
If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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