atm-logoWho was Tombstone cowboy Frank Patterson?

Alan Patterson
Bisbee, Arizona

Frank Patterson isn’t as well known as some of his pals, but he was around for several big moments in Tombstone’s turbulent times.

On November 9, 1879, Patterson and five others (including Frank Stilwell and Pete Spence) murdered J. Van Houten near the 1857 Brunckow silver mine near the Charleston road between Tombstone and Sierra Vista in Arizona. Nobody was convicted of the killing.

Patterson was also present the night of October 27, 1880. Several of the cowboys were living it up when Curly Bill Brocius accidentally shot and killed Tombstone Marshal Fred White. Some of the boys were fined afterwards, but charges against Patterson were dropped after witnesses testified that he had tried to stop the others from shooting up the town.

Lastly, Patterson was in Iron Springs when Brocius was killed (and others, perhaps including Patterson, were wounded) during a shoot-out on March 24, 1882. One of the cowboys reported that Brocius’s body had been buried at Patterson’s ranch. History does not reveal what happened to Patterson.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008,
Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

Related Articles

  • tombstone_birds-eye1881-blog

    The summer of 1881 was not a good one for Tombstone merchant Frank Carleton. In…

  • hamer-blog

    Frank Hamer was a legendary lawman/Texas Ranger.  He was in dozens of gunfights, proving his…

  • cowboygirl

    As biographies go, this is no doubt the best I have read in years.  Clayton’s…