Book Review: Apache Days & Tombstone Nights: John Clum’s Autobiography 1877­1887 (edited by Neil B. Carmony) : WW


Apache Days & Tombstone Nights: John Clum’s Autobiography 1877­1887, edited by Neil B. Carmony, Univ. of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1997, $12 paperback.

As the Indian agent at the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona for three years in the 1870s, John Philip Clum (1851­1932) was Eskiminzin’s friend and Geronimo’s enemy. As founding editor of the Tombstone Epitaph and mayor of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, in the 1880s, he was Wyatt Earp’s friend and Ike Clanton’s enemy. What Western history buff wouldn’t want to read Clum’s autobiography, even if the frontiersman didn’t begin to write it until he was 80 and died of a heart attack before he could finish it? Some of Clum’s material was turned into a 1936 biography, Apache Agent: The Story of John P. Clum, by Woodworth Clum, John’s only son. That book mainly dealt with the Apache wars. This new book deals mostly with John Clum’s life in Arizona Territory after leaving San Carlos; it features the last chapters John Clum originally wrote, along with Arizona native Neil Carmony’s annotations. In Chapter 4, Clum reconstructs the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Carmony says “the reconstruction of the shootout is probably about as good as any,” although Clum didn’t actually witness the famous 30-second affair. As for his Apache days, they are prominent in Chapter 7, “The Capture of Geronimo,” which was first published under the title “Geronimo” in the January 1928 New Mexico Historical Review. Clum tells how he and his Apache police arrested the Chiricahua leader in April 1877: “My police were not slow in discerning the thoughts of the renegade. Instantly Sergeant Rip sprang forward and snatched the knife from Geronimo’s belt, while the muzzles of a half-dozen guns…were pressed toward him….and thus was accomplished the first and only bona fide capture [at gunpoint that is] of Geronimo the Renegade.” That made the agent’s day all right, but prisoner Geronimo was never made to walk to the scaffold, and that apparently made Clum glum.



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