True West Historical Society

Official Site of True West Magazine, Since 1953

I recently read a post somewhere online describing the Bird Cage confrontation between Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo as a "handkerchief challenge." I've seen the marker in the Bird Cage indicating the spot between the Faro table and the stage where this confrontation allegedly took place. The movie, "Tombstone," depicts this confrontation as tense but more intellectual. So, three questions: (1) Is it historically accurate that some form confrontation did occur at that spot in the Bird Cage, or was the only confrontation between them on Allen St in January 1882? (2) If so, what was the nature of the exchange? (3) how does a "handkerchief challenge" work?

Views: 1030

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Steve the fray between Ringo and Doc on January 17 has been told and re-told by old timers but Gary Roberts, in his book Doc Holliday, describes it as overblown. I just dropped him a line to get his thoughts. He us good about responding immediately so I should be able to get back to you manana. Gary is the best when it comes to Doc and I'd like to see what he thinks.
There was definately a confrontation between the two and there are several versions depending on whether it was claimed by the Cowboys or the Earp bunch. Chief of Police Jim Flynn deserves most of the credit for keeping it from getting out of hand.
Stay tuned.
Thanks Marshall. I read Roberts' book and am reading Burrows' Johnny Ringo book now. The Jan 17 1882 confrontation is very interesting and Im wondering what confrontation took place in the Birdcage; or if even took place as the sign by the Faro table says.
Steve, I don't think any confrontation between Ringo and Holliday took place in the Bird Cage.
Here's the skinny as best I can figure:
The story of the confrontation between the two took place on January 17, 1882 on Allen Street in front of the Occidental Saloon and near the Grand and Cosmopolitan hotels. Ringo biographer Steve Gatto wrote, "...the precise details of what happened between Ringo and Holliday or Earp in Tombstone on January 17, 1882, or some other brief encounter, have been lost by time and buried under exaggerated tales that have little, if any, corroboration."
Gatto goes on to say an encounter that almost resulted gunplay did occur.
John Pleasant Gray, writing about the incident nearly 60 years later has Ringo brazenly walking up, pulling off his red bandana, holding one end and throwing the other end to Holliday to grab on to and fight it out up close and personal but as Holliday reached for the bandana Ringo was grabbed from behind by Chief of Police James Flynn while Wyatt led Doc away.
Casey Tefertiller adds in the endnotes of his biography on Wyatt, "As usually happens with such events, a good story was blown up into a masterpiece. By the time John Pleasant Gray related it in his memoirs nearly sixty years later, the story came off as another confrontation for the ages."
The most accurate account of the confrontation was by Tombstone chronicler, George Parsons. Parsons was an eyewitness. He wrote, "Ringo and Doc Holliday came nearly close having it out with pistols......One with hand in breast pocket and the other probably ready....Police vigilant for once, and both disarmed."
I think I saw masterpieces like that nearly every Saturday night between the cowhands, rock doodlers and the railroaders in my home town of Ash Fork.


© 2015   Created by True West.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service