Lawyers of Tombstone’s “Rotten Row”

marcus-aurelius-smith-blog

Rotten Row was the name Tombstonians affectionately called a row of buildings on 4th Street between Toughnut and Allen Streets. Conveniently located between the saloons and courthouse the area overflowed with whiskey and oratory when court was in session.

Boom towns like Tombstone attracted some of the best lawyers in the business. Among them were as colorful a bunch of characters that ever took up residence in Arizona.

One who stood out among the rest was Ben Goodrich. He didn’t drink, gamble frequent the red light district; he didn’t even go to church. In fact he had no vices at all and that was why he “stood out.” But Tombstone tolerated one and all and the rest of the fraternity of legal talent did its best to live down Ben’s bad example.

His partner was the inimitable Marcus Aurelius Smith, a tall, handsome Kentuckian with a luxurious walrus mustache that hung down to his chin. ​Everyone knew and liked him. Eventually he was elected to Congress as the Territorial delegate and thanks to his adding an amendment to the Joint Statehood bill in 1906 stating that both states had to approve, Arizona and New Mexico did not enter the union as one state.

William Staehle aka the “German Warrior” or “Corkscrew” as he was gifted with miraculous powers as an absorber of whiskey.

Corkscrew was a skilled violinist too but nobody remembered for certain what talents he possessed as an attorney.

The German Warrior came from his lack of skill as a pugilist. One evening he was in his cups in the Crystal Palace when some soldiers from Ft. Huachuca got into a brawl. Corkscrew decided to join the fracas. Raising his forefinger in the air he declared, “Count me in.”

A moment later a stray punch caught him on the jaw and put him on the floor. Flat on his back the warrior raised his forefinger again saying, “Count me out.”

One night he was on the prod in the Alhambra and the bartender gently led him to the door gave him a gentle kick in the seat of the pants. “I didn’t mind getting kicked in the seat of the pants,” he cried indignantly, “but the dirty sonofagun kicked me with a pair of dollar and a half shoes.”

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