I've read a couple of places and seen John Behan displayed as a scoundrel in
Tombstone and recently read more. He, later in life, was appointed as Superintendent of
the famous Yuma Prison where he allowed a man, Knox Lee, convicted of murder to obtain
his freedom after serving 15 months. Have you heard anything about this ? Lee killed a
man on the rim in 1887, was convicted and sentenced. A rather amazing story !
I wonder what was in it for Behan, aka Mr Quid Pro Quo.
Chuck, I've got Bob Alexander's bio of Behan at home. Let me check his take on it tonight and get back to you manana.
I've never been a big fan of Behan mainly because of his role in the Cochise County War but he was an interesting character. Like his nemesis Wyatt Earp, he came West as a young man, joined the California Column during the Civil War and fought with them at Apache Pass in 1862. A year later he was in Tucson as a freighter before moving up to the Prescott area where he was a bull whacker, prospector and Indian fighter. In early 1866 he and some friends were out prospecting when they jumped by a band of some 30 Yavapai. They managed to fight their way out of that one. Then he became under-sheriff in Yavapai County where a number of times he joined Indian-fighting expeditions. The Prescott Miner called him brave and intelligent. In 1871-1872 during the height of the Indian wars in the area he served as county sheriff. Arizona was pretty wild and it took a man with bark on to be a lawman. I thought you all might like to see something prior to his checkered career as Sheriff of Cochise County.
Then he got into Territorial politics with the legislature and maybe that's where he learned some bad habits. Sometime around 1879 he moved to Tombstone and became involved in the crazy politics there.
I can't help but wonder if he and Wyatt might have gotten along had one not been a Republican and the other a Democrat.
Okay all you rounders....have at it. LOL
Marshall: Well, we have similar feelings on this man....a tough customer but then a big time politician in the end. I have to guess that there was nothing on him at the Yuma Prison and the release of Knox Lee after his conviction for murder ? Guess that's forgotten History in Yavapai country ? Thank You for your efforts !
I checked Bob Alexander's book "Sacrificed Sheriff" last night and read the entire chapter on his tenure at the Yuma Territorial Prison and found no mention of Knox Lee or anything related to the incident. Bob's a good researcher, just no mentionof him. Somewhere in my two library's of 1,500 books is a little book on the Territorial Prison but I can't seem to find it. I checked several files but nothing came up on Lee.
Lee's crime was committed up on the Rim in 1887 and that would have been during the outbreak of the Pleasant Valley War. I checked several books on the war and found a few Lee's but nobody named Knox.
Behan wasn't necessarily the one who released Knox Lee, or at least he didn't do it by himself. That would have taken action by the territorial Governor. Until 1937, when the Texas Legislature created the Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles, pardons, paroles, & commutation of sentences were for sale in all 48 states. The board was created because, on her last day in office, Governor Miram A. W. 'Maw' Ferguson issued over 2000 pardons, many to hardened felons & murderers, all paid for in hard cash. The Fergusons collected abt $2 mil from the sale of those pardons.
This is not to say Behan didn't profit by the release of Knox Lee--he almost certainly did--but so did a number of other folks, including the territorial Governor, who had to approve the release. The only question is, how much went to the Gov & how much to Behan.
Very interesting Charley. Gotta love ol' Maw Ferguson, she knew how to make a buck. Of course she was a product of her times. We think politicians pull a lot of shenanigans today but they look like Boy Scouts when compared to their predecessors.
Marshall /C. F. 'Charley' Eckhardt:
Thank you both for your comments on the rim murder in 1887 which had nothing to do with the Pleasant Valley War, but rather a basic communication that still exists to this day. Language barriers can and do create problems for all of us at one time or another. As to the $$$$ side of this early release, there was a reported $10,000+ missing and two men, Knox Lee as one, headed off to Bristish Columbia...or so it was reported. It just seems like such a miscarriage of justice to not be noted but a few places and I do realize that Justice does take the form of many heads, even today !
Chuck, I was wondering where the info came from about Knox Lee possibly heading off to British Columbia after being pardoned..