Were all the Witnesses at the Spicer Hearing Sworn in?

spicer hearing marshall trimble true west magazine

Were all the witnesses at the Spicer Hearing sworn in?

Tom Betts
Anaheim, California

Some 30 witnesses testified at the Spicer Hearing inquest into the 1881 O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. That doesn’t mean they all told the truth.

Ike Clanton swore he was not out gunning for the Earp Gang when practically the whole town had seen him walking the streets, telling all who would listen how he was going to kill the lawmen.

Railroad engineer H.F. Sills was the most important witness for the defense. He testified he’d heard the Clantons and McLaurys say they were going to kill Virgil Earp on sight. Unlike other witnesses, Sills didn’t let the prosecution intimidate him. Over the years, some historians have questioned his truthfulness (and even his true identity), but no evidence supports the belief that Sills violated his oath.

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 marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu.

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Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.