Yavapai County Constable History

Shootout on Whiskey Row (October 16, 1877)
Constable Frank Murray












Yavapai County Constable’s Office – Prescott Precinct

Tuesday, October 16th, 1877 seemed an ordinary day on Prescott’s Whiskey Row. W.H. McCall had been playing billiards inside Jackson & Tompkins Saloon, when two rough looking Texans came in: George Wilson and Robert Tullos. Wilson had killed a man in Texas, and McCall was aware of that incident. Wilson also recognized McCall, and began to verbally intimidate him while Tullos looked on with his pistol drawn.

Fearing that Wilson might kill him to keep his murderous secret, McCall fled the saloon and ran to the Prescott Justice Court, where he swore out a warrant against Wilson (whom he mistakenly called ‘Vaughn’) and ‘John Doe’ (Tullos) with Justice of the Peace C.F. Cate.  Judge Cate gave the warrant to Constable Frank Murray, who proceeded to the Jackson & Tompkins Saloon to arrest the two men.

When Constable Murray arrived at the saloon, Wilson and Tullos were outside entertaining themselves by shooting at a dog on the street. Believing they were being arrested for their gunplay, the two desperadoes pulled their guns on Constable Murray, mounted their horses, and quickly rode away, shooting up the town as they went.

Constable Murray quickly ran across the plaza to where Yavapai County Sheriff Ed Bowers, United States Marshal Wiley Standifer, and Prescott citizen Virgil Earp were talking. The three lawmen, joined by Earp and McCall, quickly gave chase to the Texas outlaws. US Marshal Standifer and McCall rode a carriage, Constable Murray and Sheriff Bowers went on horseback, and Virgil Earp trailed on foot.

The lawmen caught up with the cowboys just outside of town near Granite Creek, where the two outlaws had stopped and dismounted. The posse rode up on them and commanded them to surrender. The two outlaws raised their pistols and began firing at the lawmen. The outlaws were out-numbered, outgunned and out maneuvered: U.S. Marshal Standifer and McCall were shooting from one direction, Constable Murray and Sheriff Bowers from another, and Virgil Earp was at a third position with his Winchester rifle. A short and deadly gunfight ensued.

In the end Tullos was killed—being hit by eight bullets and buckshot; Wilson had a mortal head wound—allegedly by Earp’s Winchester—causing him to die several days later. A Coroner’s Inquest found that both men died resisting lawful arrest.

Virgil Earp would go on to be elected as Prescott Constable in two years, staying in that office for almost a year, before heading on to Tombstone.

This incident occurred just a few days shy of 4 years before the O.K. Corral shootout.

Moral of the story: Never get in a gunfight with Vigil Earp in October

or… ever.



Photo’s and story from Yavapai County Constable 

Prescott Precinct


                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012