HISTORY

The history of 24 Main Street:

 

The Bisbee Massacre (a.k.a. the Bisbee Murders or Bisbee Raid)

On the evening of December 8, 1883, five outlaws rode into Bisbee. They tied their horses near the Copper Queen Mine smelter at the end of Main Street and walked to the Goldwater and Castaneda store (CURRENTLY ARTEMIZIA GALLERY at 24 Main Street – the safe is still at the back of the gallery – you can’t make this stuff up!!!!). 

At the store, three of the men entered while the other two remained outside. They leveled pistols at the store owner and persuaded him to open the safe, only to find that the mine payroll had not yet arrived. The robbers took some cash and a gold watch in the safe and robbed all of the employees and customers in the store.

While three outlaws were inside looting the safe and robbing the customers, the two outside were confronted by citizens who recognized that a robbery was in progress. When assayer J. C. Tappenier exited the Bon Ton Saloon next door, they ordered him to go back in. He refused and the robbers, armed with Winchester repeating rifles, killed him with a shot to the head. 

Cochise County Deputy Sheriff D. Tom Smith was having dinner with his wife across the street at the Bisbee House. He ran into the street and the robbers ordered him to go back inside. Smith refused, and told them he was an officer of the law. One of the bandits reportedly said, "Then you are the one we want!" and killed him. He fell beneath a freight wagon. 

Annie Roberts, who was pregnant, came to the door of the Bisbee House restaurant, which she and her husband owned. The outlaws shot her and the bullet shattered her spine, mortally wounding her. John A. Nolly, a local freighter, was standing near his wagon when he was shot in the chest. A local man, known only as "Indian Joe," was wounded in the leg as he was trying to escape the shooting. Roberts and Nolly died later that evening. 

The robbers exited the store and ran for their horses, firing at anyone they saw. Deputy Sheriff William "Billy" Daniels, who had come from his saloon when he heard the shooting commence, emptied his revolver at the fleeing outlaws, but missed. The bandits mounted their horses and rode back up Main Street, over Mule Pass, and out of town. At Soldier's Hole, a site east of Bisbee, they divided the money and went their separate ways.

The Copper Queen Mine offered a reward of $2,000 (about $50,000 today) for the arrest and conviction of the killers. 

A posse immediately rode out after the gang. During the manhunt, they noticed that the outlaws' tracks separated with three horsemen going east and the two others going south, however, the posse soon caught up with the gang.

 

The trial of the five suspected killers began in Tombstone on February 17, 1884. The evidence against the men was fairly conclusive. Four of the five of them had been recognized either during the robbery or as they ran from the mercantile. Additionally, there was a chain of physical and circumstantial evidence linking the men to the crime. 

 

The trial lasted only three days. After an hour's deliberation, the jury brought back a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder. On hearing the verdict, Daniel Kelly was reported to have remarked, "Well boys, hemp seems to be trumps". 

 

On February 18, after their motions for a new trial were quashed by Judge Daniel Pinney, the five outlaws were sentenced to be hanged by the neck until they were dead.

 

At his request John Heath, the supposed mastermind, was tried separately. He was represented by Colonel William Herring. The prosecutors could not produce a witness who could tie Heath to the robbery. Certainly he had known the outlaws previously, but proving he had conspired with them was problematic. Unable to produce a witness, County Attorney Marcus Aurelius Smith found a prisoner to testify against Heath. Sergeant L. D. Lawrence, of the 3rd Cavalry, had been indicted for killing two men during a saloon brawl in Willcox, Arizona, and had been incarcerated with Heath and the others since their arrest.

 

The jury, which split several times over the verdict, with some calling for conviction and some calling for acquittal, finally chose a "compromise verdict" and convicted Heath of second-degree murder. Judge Pinney sentenced him to life at the Yuma Territorial Prison.

 

Some men of Cochise County were not satisfied. On February 22, a large lynch mob, reported as 50 to 150 men, mostly miners, armed themselves. They appointed a committee of seven men to enter the county jail in the Tombstone Courthouse and get Heath out. The jailer thought their knock was the Chinese cook bringing breakfast, and the seven men forced the Sheriff and guards at the point of their guns to release Heath to them. The mob took Heath at gunpoint from the jail, leaving his five convicted associates who were scheduled to be executed in March. As the mob exited the courthouse with the prisoner, Sheriff Ward attempted to intervene. The mob pushed him aside. 

The mob took Heath down Toughnut Street and lynched him from a telegraph pole at the corner of First and Toughnut Streets. Heath's last words were: "Boys, you are hanging an innocent man, and you will find it out before those other men are hung. I have one favor to ask," he said, "that you will not mutilate my body by shooting into it after I am hung." His executioners agreed. Heath was then blindfolded and the noose was placed around his neck. Members of the mob then pulled the rope until Heath was suspended beneath the pole, where he slowly strangled to death. When the body finally came to rest, someone placed a placard on the telegraph pole bearing the inscription: 

JOHN HEITH
Was hanged to this pole by the
CITIZENS OF COCHISE COUNTY
for participating in the Bisbee massacre
as a proved accessory
AT 8:00 A.M., FEBRUARY 22, 1884
(Washington’s Birthday)

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24 MAIN STREET BISBEE, ARIZONA

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