Ike Bites Dust

Ike Clanton vs J.V. Brighton
Ike Clanton vs J.V. Brighton

June 1, 1887

Detective J.V. Brighton (who also holds a deputy sheriff’s commission) and two law officers have been on the trail of Ike Clanton and his cohorts for the better part of two weeks. After a ride from Springerville to Solomonville, Arizona, and environs, the lawmen have gone back into the mountains for another pass at the Clanton Gang.

Arriving at Jim Wilson’s ranch on Eagle Creek last night, the lawmen join Wilson for breakfast in the morning. While eating, Ike rides straight up to the door.  Recognizing his prey, Detective Brighton gets up from the table, while Jim Wilson walks to the door and exchanges greetings with Clanton.

When Deputy Miller steps to the door, Ike recognizes the local lawman and wheels his horse, spurring him toward the thick cover growing close to Wilson’s home. At the same time, Ike pulls his Winchester from its scabbard.

Brighton and Miller order Ike to halt. Instead of doing so, Ike, about 20 yards distant where the trail takes a turn to the left, throws his rifle over his left arm, attempting to fire.

Detective Brighton fires, the ball entering under Ike’s left arm and passing directly through his heart and out under his right arm.

As Ike reels in his saddle, Brighton’s second shot passes through the cantle of Ike’s saddle and grazes Ike’s right leg. Ike falls on the right side of his horse, as his rifle falls on the left.

Brighton and Miller warily approach the spot where Clanton lays. When they get close, they realize Ike is dead.

Wilson, at whose ranch their tragedy has occurred, notifies the nearest neighbors. Four men come over and identify the deceased. They then give him as decent a burial as circumstances allow.

Aftermath: Odds & Ends

Ike Clanton was buried on a nearby ridge of Jim Wilson’s ranch. Terry “Ike” Clanton claims to have found Ike’s burial site on June 28, 1996. Terry has put in a request to remove the body and rebury it in Boothill in Tombstone, Arizona. The request is still pending.

Charged with grand larceny, Phin Clanton was sentenced to 10 years in the Yuma Territorial Prison. He started his sentence on October 7, 1887, and was no doubt happy to learn that Johnny Behan was the assistant superintendent at the prison.

Phin only served one year and five months of his sentence before being pardoned by Gov. Meyer Zulick on March 15, 1889. The major witness against Phin recanted his testimony and claimed he, A.G. Powell and J.V. Brighton conspired to convict Phin and split the $250 reward from the stock association. Behan set Phin free on March 24.

Phin moved to the Globe area in Arizona and raised goats. With the exception of a charge of robbing and beating up a “Chinaman,” which he beat, Phin lived out his life in relative peace, dying on January 6, 1906.

J.V. Brighton moved on to California where he continued his detective work for many years. He died in the Veteran’s Hospital in Los Angeles in 1928.

Recommended: The Clantons of Tombstone by Ben Traywick, published by Red Marie’s Bookstore.

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