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Seller Rating:. Published by Forge Books To the Last Man Zane Grey. Published by Forge : Tom Doherty Associates The cowboys left for easier pickings. Some days later another Navajo herder was found shot dead. The cowboy roughnecks had declared war. The Hashknife outfit put John Payne, a big ruthless Texan, in charge of moving sheepmen off Hashknife range.
Paine and his riders gave ultimatums to Tewksbury partisans: Leave, or else. With the sheep out of Pleasant Valley, things cooled down a bit. One sheepherder was dead, but people felt he was just a Navajo.
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The dead sheep were another matter. They cost the Daggs—and the Tewksburys—money. But more than that, the brothers rankled at losing to the Grahams. As the storm brewed, Commodore Perry Owens rode endless miles to uphold the law in his domain. He left the warrant for Andy Cooper's arrest gathering dust in Taylor, but served countless others.
Lawbreakers went to jail, or left the country. Then Mormon teamsters started losing horses. They would leave their teams hobbled at night and often wake up to find the horses gone, with the hobbles left behind to taunt them. Apache County Critic Editor Frank Reed wrote: "The leader of this gang of rustlers has been cited as one Andy Cooper, who was classed as being a horse thief desperado of the most daring stamp, and the boldest man in his operations as had ever cursed the west.
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As he brought in lawbreaker after lawbreaker and collected license fee after license fee he was liable for fees that went uncollected , Commodore's reputation grew. But horses and cattle continued to disappear, and the local papers continued to remind Sheriff Owens about Andy Cooper. For months, Andy Cooper and John Payne ramrodded the wild bunch that harassed the sheepherders.
The next casualties hit close to home. Ignoring the advice of his sons, Mart Blevins rode away from his Canyon Creek ranch one morning in late July , looking for missing horses. He was never seen again.
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Some thought the Navajos killed him, others said horse thieves. Seven years later, a rancher on Cherry Creek found a human skull near a rusty rifle that had belonged to Mart Blevins. Two weeks passed without word of Mart. The Blevins brothers were convinced sheepmen had killed the old man. Payne announced they were headed for Pleasant Valley in search of Mart Blevins, and to "start a little war of our own. The horsemen passed the deserted Blevins ranch at the head of Canyon Creek—the Blevinses had rented a house in Holbrook for their womenfolk—and trailed down Canyon Creek, keeping an eye out for signs of the old man.
Finding none, they headed for the Middleton ranch, where John Payne had ordered everyone to "leave, or else.
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Payne repeated his ultimatum, saying the occupants hadn't left and they'd have to pay. According to Jim Roberts, Hamp Blevins reached for his pistol. Jim Tewksbury, deadly with a saddle gun, shot Hamp dead. Jim Roberts fired at John Payne, clipping his ear and splattering the side of his head with blood. Another Tewksbury bullet killed Payne's horse. He jumped away from his mount, but took only two or three strides before Tewksbury bullets dropped him lifeless near the body of Hamp Blevins.
Tom Tucker was shot through the lungs; Glasspie and Carrington escaped untouched. After the Middleton ranch shootout, Andy Cooper and the Graham faction may have gotten the idea that the law had sided with the Tewksburys. William Mulvenon, sheriff of Yavapai County, led a posse into Pleasant Valley but failed to arrest a single Tewksbury, even though he had ten warrants. His posse met a group of Graham men led by Andy Cooper at the Perkins store.
Andy saw the officers were empty-handed and told them the cattlemen would "take matters into their own hands" and exterminate the sheepmen if the sheriff did not arrest the Tewksburys. The Pleasant Valley War is also known as the Graham-Tewksbury feud, but none of its first victims bore those names.
The Grahams may not have been involved at this point, because of Tom Graham's orders against killing. Andy Cooper, though, was another matter. His father was missing, his brother dead. He wanted action. So he usurped leadership of the Graham riders every chance he got, hoping to get a Tewksbury in the sights of his guns. Owens's own deputy pushed the battle past the point of no return.
Suddenly, a range war between cattle and sheep interests became a personal vendetta between Grahams and Tewksburys. The warrant for Andy Cooper's arrest lay in Taylor, ignored. So the county board of commissioners called Sheriff Owens in for an accounting. Will Barnes was there. They asked him why he had not made the arrest. His reply was that he had not been able to locate Cooper. The board told Owens to arrest Cooper within ten days or be ousted from office.
Now, as his horse dipped its head to drink from the Little Colorado, Owens considered his odds.
In the few days since the board's command, more men died in Pleasant Valley. Tom Graham, who had been against a shooting war, now wanted to avenge his young half-brother. Graham, Cooper, and a group of riders descended on the Tewksbury ranch as dawn broke September 2, The cowboys kept the remaining Tewksburys pinned down inside the house. Hogs came and rooted at the bodies.
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But when they started to maul them, Mary Ann Tewksbury, John's wife, couldn't stand it. She braved the Graham guns to bury her husband and his friend in a shallow grave she scraped out with an old shovel. Cowboy chivalry protected her.
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