Was Cochise County Sheriff John Behan a crook?
Rocky Strong – Sherman, Texas.
Behan was certainly a glad-handing, backslapping, joke-telling politician in Arizona Territory. But charges of corruption didn’t come up until around 1880, after he moved to Cochise County. He became sheriff in 1881, eight months prior to Tombstone’s famous shoot-out behind the O.K. Corral. He got a little too friendly with the Cowboys and defended their bad behaviors, which included rustling, voter fraud, and assault.
I can’t help but wonder if he—a Democrat—and the Earp brothers—Republicans—might have gotten along better had they been in the same political party.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.