ask-the-marshall.Eugene O’Brien

Union, New Jersey

The famous photo of the Arizona Rangers was taken in Morenci, Arizona, during the mining strike in 1903. The tall guy on the left end is Capt. Tom Rynning, second captain of the force. The Arizona Rangers were organized in 1901, and modeled after the storied Texas Rangers. They never numbered more than 26 men.

Cattle rustling was still rampant along the New Mexico and Mexico borders during those years, so the Rangers were sent in to break up the gangs. In those days, county peace officers weren’t supposed to cross county lines in pursuit of the bad guys, only federal officers could do that. So, outlaws could thumb their noses at the pursuing lawmen once they’d crossed the county line.

The Rangers, being a territorial force, could go anywhere in Arizona. Some even crossed into Mexico to get their man.

Winchester was embarrassed by the mistaken caption and threw a big ceremony in Arizona as a way to appease the Arizonans’ ruffled feathers. A couple of old Rangers were invited, and the ad man for Winchester, R. Scott Healy, was ceremoniously handcuffed, blindfolded and put on a horse beneath a hanging tree. “I deserve it,” he said repentantly, but Arizona Gov. Paul Fannin came through in a “last dramatic reprieve,” permitting Healy to clean the state guns as an “alternate sentence.”

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.

If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall

PO Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327

or e-mail him at

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