Pete Spence B. 1852 D. 1914

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The links between the Xs are people
that had a part in Tombstone, AZ history
(Scroll down page for story)

About Doc Holiday
About Wyatt Earp

About Virgil Earp

About Morgan Earp

About James Earp

About Warren Earp

About Newton Earp

About William "Curley Bill" Brocius (outlaw)

About Billy Claiborne (outlaw)

About Pete Spence (outlaw)

About Ike Clanton (outlaw)

About Phin Clanton (outlaw)

About Johnny Ringo (outlaw)

About "Old Man" Clanton" (outlaw)

Frank Stillwell (outlaw)

About Frank McLaury (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)
About Tom McLaury (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)

About Billy Clanton (outlaw killed at the OK Corral)

About Johnny Behan (Sheriff)

William Breckinridge (Deputy Sheriff)

About Fred White (Marshal)
About George Parson

About Wells Spicer (Judge)

About George Goodfellow MD

About Nellie Cashman (Angel Of Mercy)

About Big Nose Kate (prostitute & Doc Holiday's girlfriend)

About Ed Schieffelin

About John Clum (editor/publisher of Tombstone Epitaph)

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Morgan Earps Death In The Tombstone Epitaph
Tombstone Epitaph Story The Day After The OK Corral Shootout

Tombstone Pioneers Burial Place
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Mistakes In The Movie Tombstone

For fallacies in the movie Tombstone please visit this web site: http://www.ferncanyonpress.com/tombston/movie.shtml

 
Pete Spence Real name Elliot Larkin Ferguson,
shown here in a scary 1893 prison mugshot from
Yuma penitentiary. This is the only available
authentic photo of him. Story below.
 

Pete Spence (1852-1914) (born Elliot Larkin Ferguson) was a stage robbery and murder suspect, known for his associations with the McLaurys and Clantons of Tombstone. Two stage robberies in which Spence was a suspect (one of them by rumor) helped set the stage for conflict between the Earps and McLaurys, who viewed the double arrest of Spence (in which the Earps were partly but not exclusively involved) as a personal affront, due to his friendship with the McLauries. Spence was a suspect in the murder of Morgan Earp.

Pete Spence (or Spencer) was the alias of Elliot Larkin Ferguson. According to Spence's report to the government, he was born in Texas about 1852, since he is listed in the Tombstone 1880 census as age 28, stock raiser, born Texas. Another source (see Clanton Link below) has him born in Louisiana in 1850. It is possible that he gave neither his correct age or place of birth for the federal census, since he was using an alias by that time.

Little is known of Spence/Ferguson's youth, but he is known to have been enlisted in the Texas Rangers under Captain Wallace in 1874.

Ferguson was first listed as a fugitive from justice in 1878, wanted for robbery in Golliad Co., Texas. He began using the name Peter M. Spencer after moving to the Arizona Territory, not long after this time (the southeast Arizona Territory near Bisbee and Tombstone). Tombstone was a western frontier area which drew a number of Texas fugitives from the law).

In Tombstone, Arizona Territory, Spence lived immediately across the street from the Earps, in a house which still stands in Tombstone. For a time he ran Vogan's Saloon.

In October, 1880 Spence was charged with grand larceny on a charge of possessing stolen Mexican mules, but was not convicted.

Spence was a business partner of Frank Stilwell in the Franklin Mine and other mining ventures, and also in a Bisbee saloon.

With Frank Stilwell, Spence was a suspect in the "Sandy Bob Line" Bisbee stage robbery on September 8, 1881. Spence and Stilwell were recognized in the first robbery from their voices, and Stilwell was identified by his distinctive bootprints which were traced to a distinctive repair by a Bisbee cobbler who identified him as a recent customer (both Wyatt Earp and Billy Breakenridge later took credit for this detective work). Spence and Stilwell were almost immediately arrested in a Bisbee corral by a sheriff's posse that included Wyatt Earp.

Spence and Stilwell, according to newspapers of the time, were also suspects in a second stage robbery (committed by 5 men) near Contention City, on October 8, 1881. However, this report appears to be an error. Spence and Stilwell were re-arrested by Virgil Earp on October 13 for trial in Tucson, but this was a federal arrest for the separate federal crime of interfering with mail shipment, in conjunction with the earlier Bisbee robbery. Wyatt Earp reported that the McLaurys expressed particular anger toward the Earps for the second arrest of Spence and Stilwell, which occurred just 13 days before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Spence and Stilwell ultimately were not convicted on the federal charges, either. Stilwell was in jail in Tucson on the day of the O.K. Corral gunfight on October 26, 1881, but Spence, who had lesser evidence against him, had been released several days before.

Spence, with Stilwell, were formally named suspects in the murder of Morgan Earp March 18, 1882, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory (see Morgan Earp for detail). The implication of Spence and Stilwell in Morgan's murder are on the basis of testimony at a coroner's inquest on Morgan from Spence's unhappy wife Marietta Duarte (nee Castro), regarding the suspicious activities of Spence and his friends on the night of Morgan's murder. The attempted indictment of Spence was eventually dropped, however, probably on the basis of the fact that spouses could not testify against each other. However, the Earps learned of the coroner's jury findings, and acted on them immediately before the murder trial was held.

Spence owned a ranch and woodcutting camp at South Pass in the Dragoon Mountains, where he employed Florentino Cruz a.k.a. "Indian Charlie". Cruz supposedly acted as a lookout during the Morgan Earp murder, and was murdered by the Earp Vendetta Ride posse for this on March 20, 1882, two days after Morgan's murder. Spence had escaped the Earp posse by turning himself into the law for protection, else he possibly would have shared Cruz's fate. The Earps would later believe that Spence was an accomplice in the murder, but that Stilwell actually shot Morgan Earp (And that Curly Bill Brocius fired the simultaneous shot through the door which narrowly missed Wyatt Earp).

Like Stilwell, Spence worked as a sometime law officer during his life, serving as a deputy sheriff and constable of Georgetown, New Mexico. In June, 1893 apparently while in office, Spence was sentenced to a 5-year term in the Yuma, Arizona Territorial Penniteniary for a pistol-whipping which resulted in the manslaughter death of a man named Rodney O'Hara. He was granted full pardon by the territorial governor, after serving less than 18 months.

Eventually (1910), Spence (using his real name of Ferguson) married the widow of Phineas "Fin" Clanton (brother of Ike Clanton).

He died in 1914 and is buried in the Globe, Arizona cemetery, in the plot next to Fin Clanton. The grave is said to be unmarked at the present time, remembered only by the Clanton family

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