Reverend Peabody Comes to Tombstone

Endicott Peabody

In Tombstone in early 1882, the Reverend Endicott Peabody, a recent arrival from Boston preached a sermon titled The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Cattle

A cowboy who happened to be a well-known cattle thief took umbrage at the newcomer’s remarks and threatened to “tar and feather” the new preacher. Peabody, an accomplished boxer, suggested if they were going to make a fight of it they should build a boxing ring and charge admission, the money going to the local children’s orphanage.

A large crowd gathered for the event and for three rounds the cowboy came at the preacher with fists flying but none of his wild punches landed as Peabody dodged, weaved and backpedaled around the ring.

By the third young the cowboy was plum worn out and dropped his arms. Peabody then delivered a round house blow the laid him out cold. The young minister had gained a whole new respect from the rough and ready Tombstonians and the attendance in Peabody’s church increased dramatically.

Unfortunately for Tombstone, Reverend Peabody didn’t remain in town long enough. However, he did stay long enough to build a church, St. Paul’s Episcopal stands today as the oldest Protestant church in Arizona. He eventually became head master at Groton, Massachusetts and mentor to a young student named Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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