Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Judge William H. Stilwell, by Roy B. Young

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published on Published Online: March 30, 2012 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Judge William H. Stilwell: Bench and Bar in Arizona Territory, by Roy B. Young, Young & Sons Enterprises, Apache, Okla., 2011, $29.95

For those who can't get enough information about the wild days of Tombstone and vicinity—specifically the "Cowboy problem" or "Earp problem," depending on your point of view—this 186-page biography is just what the Doc ordered. New Yorker William Stilwell, appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Arizona Territory in December 1880, was a firm judge who at times became frustrated by the inability of the courts to thwart the outlawry running rampant in his neck of the woods (mostly Cochise County). Stilwell's tenure as judge, as historian and Doc Holliday biographer Gary Roberts writes in the foreword, "provides insight into the legal, political and economic context to the Earp-Clanton troubles." Warning: This particular Stilwell sides with the Earps, although he is a distant cousin of Frank Stilwell, killed in March 1882 during Wyatt Earp's vendetta against the Cowboys. Author Roy Young, editor of the Wild West History Association Journal, claims his own Stilwell heritage and began to look into the history of the Stilwell family at age 12. This book, he says, is the first of a trilogy; the second will cover frontier scout Jack Stilwell, the third outlaw Frank Stilwell.

Judge Stilwell handled cases involving cattle rustling and shootings but also mining and other business cases. After the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer held a hearing that resulted in the release of the three Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. Stilwell's grand jury took no action in the Earps and Holliday's killing of the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton, but it did hand down to others 37 indictments for murder, robbery and other crimes. John Ringo appeared before the judge several times. On May 24, 1882, the grand jury indicted Sheriff John Behan for malfeasance of office, charging him with the mishandling of funds. But President Chester Arthur removed Stilwell as justice, and the next justice dropped the charges. Stilwell, though, remained on the frontier, serving as a defense attorney and as district attorney and earning a reputation as one of the ablest lawyers in the territory. He left Tombstone for Phoenix in 1894 and continued his legal career. He died of pneumonia in May 1928, just short of his 79th birthday.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy