Who is H.F. Sills, the mystery witness in the O.K. Corral trial?

Glenn Hebert

Albuquerque, New Mexico

H.F. Sills said he was a former railroad worker who’d stopped off in Tombstone, Arizona—for no great reason—the night before the gunfight. As the only unbiased witness who heard the Cowboys threaten to kill the Earps and Doc Holliday, he testified to that during the hearing several weeks later. Most experts believe his testimony was crucial in all charges being dropped against the lawmen. Sills left town and disappeared.

Prosecutors tried to discredit him, believing that Sills was a plant by the defense, but they couldn’t shake his story. Earp expert Casey Tefertiller wrote an article in the NOLA Journal, stating, “The prosecution could not break Sills in 1881, and no one has broken him since. Sills is so perfect that we must forever remain skeptical and watch to see if any hints come out, but every bit of work we have done seems to support his authenticity.”

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