Frank Porter and his pack mule were waiting for the Wells Fargo wagon to arrive when he saw Cicero approaching. He planned to ask the young man to help transfer the loot.
The Wells Fargo wagon driver was Andy Hall, a man with a historic past. He’d been a member of Major John Wesley Powell’s historic exploration of the Grand Canyon in 1869.
Cicero agreed to help transfer the gold shipment to the mule and as he was loading the strongbox, Hall casually mentioned inside the box was $5,000 in gold coin. After the strongbox was secured on the mule’s back, Cicero said adios, mounted his horse and rode up to where his brother and Curtis were hidden gave them the good news and rode back to Globe.
As Hall and the mule approached the boulder Lafayette and Curtis probably panicked and opened fire, killing the mule and causing Hall to dive for cover. He called out for Porter to hurry into Globe and bring help.
Since there had been some Apache attacks in the area recently Hall assumed it was an Indian attack. He saw two men cutting the rope that held the box to the dead mule and fired off a couple of shots. Curtis and Lafayette grabbed their weapons and returned fire, hitting him in the leg. Lafayette took his hatchet and broke open the box and quickly moved the money to his saddlebags. The two quickly fled on foot.
Walking down the trail they met Dr. F.W. Vail, a Globe druggist, who was on horseback and leading a packhorse with supplies to his mine. The doctor mentioned hearing gunshots and the two assured him there were Apaches near and they’d all better hightail it into Globe. Vail kindly offered the horseless bandits use of his packhorse so they could make better time.
They hadn’t gone far when the two got nervous about Dr. Vail. Suddenly Curtis shot the druggist in the back. Lafayette proceeded to put two more bullets into him.
Further down the trail they ran into Hall who had assumed it was an Apache attack. He did that is, until he noticed Lafayette’s saddlebags were overstuffed. The boys opened fire again, this time killing the Wells Fargo driver.
They hauled the loot to a nearby gulch. Each took a few $20 gold coins for spending money and buried the rest of it.
Meanwhile, the muleskinner, Porter, had arrived in Globe and spread the news of the gold shipment robbery. Gila County Sheriff Bill Lowther took a posse off to the scene of the crime. They came upon Dr. Vail, near death but able to give a description of the two outlaws. Sheriff Lowther was quickly narrowing down the list of the usual suspects. Next, they came upon Hall’s bullet-riddled body.
At the site where the robbery took place behind a boulder they found two sets of footprints. One set was an unusually pair tiny feet. Only one man in Gila County had feet that small. The Sheriff pretty sure he knew “who’d done it” but he needed more proof.
On Monday the bodies of Dr. Vail and Andy Hall were buried and a reward of $6,000 was offered for the capture of the killers.
Curtis was at home keeping a low profile and Lafayette headed out of town. Before leaving he returned the rifle he’d borrowed prior to the robbery but unwittingly had forgotten to clean it. The suspicious owner took it to a gunsmith, who compared it to the cartridges found at the murder site and from there it was taken to Sheriff Lowther. Pinal County Sheriff Pete Gabriel was alerted and quickly picked up the Clueless bandit with the tiny feet.
Gabriel was an old pro and he ran a bluff, telling Lafayette that he’d seen him put three bullets into Hall. Visibly shaken Lafayette stammered, “No, I only shot him twice!”
The law had Lafayette dead to rights. Badly shaken he ratted on his brother and Curtis but he insisted his brother only participated in the robbery. All three were placed under arrest.
There was talk around town by an angry crowd lynching causing Lowther to order all the saloons in town be closed.
That evening a large crowd gathered by the jail. Three ropes had already been tossed over a limb on the big sycamore tree in the middle of Broad Street. Sheriff Lowther demanded they be given a hearing. The local justice declared the three would be bound over to the superior for trial but the angry citizens would have none of it. In hopes they wouldn’t be lynched, Lafayette and Curtis offered to lead them to where the gold was hidden. While the loot was being recovered Cicero was returned to jail.
Cicero had a wife and four children. She along with Mrs. Vail pleaded for mercy since he hadn’t taken part in the murders.
Lafayette and Curtis figured that if they led them to the buried gold they wouldn’t be lynched but it was to no avail. When the posse returned with the gold the two signed confessions and wrote their wills.
At about 2 A.M. on Thursday morning Lafayette Grime and Curtis Hawley were taken to the sycamore tree. Before Lafayette was hung, he sat down in the middle of the street, took off his size four boots and cried, “Damned if I’ll die with my boots on!”
In a few minutes the two lifeless bodies of the two were swaying from the limb of the hanging tree until noon before they were cut down.
He would receive a long prison sentence at the Yuma Territorial Prison. While there he began acting crazy and eventually ended up in an insane asylum in California. Many in Globe believed he’d faked it. A couple of months after he arrived Cicero walked away and was never seen again. Or, maybe he not. One story has it after he escaped the mental institution he headed for Oregon, re-joined his family, and changed his name.
A fire in 1894 wiped out most of the business district including the tree. Two years later it was cut down. In 1997 a monument was placed at the site.
Like this story? Try: The Bisbee Deportation of 1917.