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Alias Soapy Smith

The Earps, Doc Holliday,
& The Blonger Bros.

 

In April of 1882, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and others were being pursued by an Arizona posse for the murder of Frank Stilwell. They were headed for Albuquerque.

While in town, the posse's presence was withheld by the local papers, and Marshal Blonger, along with Sheriff Armijo, reportedly protected the men from capture by Arizona officials while their situation was appealed to higher powers.

It is unknown whether Wyatt or Doc knew the Blongers previously, though they may have met in Dodge City, or several other towns, while making the rounds as gamblers and saloon men in the '70s.


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Albuquerque Morning Journal, January 31, 1882

The Earps and a desperado named Doc Holiday are running things with a high hand at Tombstone, Arizona.

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Albuquerque Morning Journal, March 28, 1882

The Earps in Albuquerque.
Last night, at a late hour, a JOURNAL reporter learned that the famous Earp boys were headed for Albuquerque, and that they were on the Atlantic express which arrives in this city this morning at 6:18. In the party there are two of the Earps and five of their confederates. These men have made for themselves a name in southern Arizona which has become a terror to the entire country. They are now pursued by the sheriff and a posse, who are desirous of capturing them for the murder of Stilwell, at Tucson, last week. There is a general feud in and about Tombstone between the Earp boys and the cow boys. Virgil Earp was at the time city marshal of Tombstone, and he, with two of his brothers and Doc Holliday, shot and killed the cow boys last October. Since that time there has been a continuous war between the two factions. One of the Earps has since been killed, and Virgil has been wounded and is now at his home in San Bernardino. The rest of the party are outlaws, and fugitives from justice. It is not likely that they will remain in this city, if they stop at all, as they are too shrewd to stay in this locality. Should anyone attempt to arrest them there will be life taken, as they are, without doubt the most desperate men now at large.

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NOTE: On or about April 15, 1882, Wyatt Earp and his posse, including Doc Holliday and Wyatt's younger brother Warren, arrive in Albuquerque by train.


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Albuquerque Evening Review, April 18, 1882

Marshal Sam Blonger goes to Denver to-morrow with samples of ore and maps of the Star mine in Hell canon. The Star now shows an eighteen foot vein of pay ore between walls, and the samples from it which Blonger will carry with him doubtless attract great attention in Denver.

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Albuquerque Evening Review, April 19, 1882

In the absence of Marshall Sam Blonger, his brother, Lou Blonger, holds the peace and quiet of the town in the hollow of his hand.

NOTE: Only petty crimes were reported during the period of Earp's visit. For more about Lou's experience as marshal during Sam's absence, see Lou In Charge.


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Albuquerque Evening Review, April 24, 1882

Marshal Sam Blonger telegraphs from Denver that he will be here next Thursday.

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NOTE: On or about April 29, 1882, the Earp posse departs for Trinidad, Colorado. Holliday left earlier after an argument with Wyatt.

The Earp posse's stay in Albuquerque is described briefly in a letter written in 1940 by Miguel A. Otero, who served as territorial governor from 1897 to 1906.  The letter was found by Chuck Hornung, an Earp researcher, in 2001, and among other things states that while in Albuquerque, "Blonger and Armijo watched over the boys."

We will be posting the complete text of the letter here soon. In the meantime, you can find the text, and a lengthy discussion of the letter, in True West magazine, December, 2001.


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Albuquerque Evening Review, May 1, 1882

The Arizona papers do not like THE REVIEW's comparison between Governor Sheldon and Tritle, as inferentially, it was rather unfavorable to the governor of that cow-boy ruled territory. Words cannot express the regret felt by this paper, from the editor-in-chief to the office boys, for this unhappy result of a four line paragraph. We would like to apologize to the actual governor of Arizona, but as at present it is somewhat uncertain whether the Stillwells, Tritle or the Earp boys really run the territory, the intended reparation will have to be deferred.

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Albuquerque Morning Journal, May 4, 1882

Marshal Sam Blonger, during his recent trip to Denver, negotiated the sale of the Star mines for $120,000. The purchasers are expected to arrive Saturday next.

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The following articles appeared after the Earp posse left town. Wyatt apparently visited the Review offices, but requested that any mention of his presence be withheld until after his group's departure.

A short excerpt from the longer article is noted in Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend, by Casey Tefertiller (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997, p. 255), but unaccountably the text does not match that shown in the image below.

Mark Dworkin covered the incident in more detail in "Henry Jaffa and Wyatt Earp: Wyatt Earp's Jewish Connection," an article he wrote for the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association Journal, Vol. XIII, No. 3 (Fall 2004).

Albuquerque Evening Review, May 13, 1882, pg. 2

The Earp boys, two of whom it is thought have exchanged the compliments of the season with Frank Stillwell, were singular types of desperadoes, if they were desperadoes. Removed from the scene of their conflicts with enemies, they became no more rioters than the frontiersman in general, and from their deportment those unacquainted with them would have taken them quicker for hard-working miners than for the men the result of whose work called out a proclamation from the president. Your true fighting man talks very little of his exploits.

Albuquerque Evening Review, May 13, 1882, pg. 3

Downed At Last
DOWNED AT LAST
Wyatt Earp Killed Near Hooker's, Arizona
On the fifteenth of last month a party arrived in Albuquerque on the Atlantic & Pacific train, whose appearance in the city speedily became known among the rounders and talked about. They were men of whose deeds the whole of Arizona was ringing, the Earp boys, as they were all together spoken of. During the month before they had been hardly a day during which a cocked revolver had not been leveled at some one, seven dead cow-boys bearing witness to the accuracy of their aim. The whole story of the fights between them and their enemies is too well-known to require a repetition here. They had fought well and bitterly, taking two lives for each one they lost, until the law grasped them and indictment after indictment began to be found against them. Then they left Arizona and came to Albuquerque. The party as they came here was composed of Wyatt Earp, Warren Earp, "Doc" or John Holliday, Sherman McMaster's, James Johnson, John Tipton, and Jack Vermillion seven, in all.
On the morning after their arrival, and before more than one or two knew of their presence, Wyatt Earp called at the REVIEW and Journal offices, and had an interview with the reporters of both papers. He stated that they had come to Albuquerque to escape persecution while awaiting the result of an effort being made by Governor Tritle to secure their pardon from the president; that they were then being sought for by their foes, and that they would not give themselves up to the Arizona officers without resistance. In view of these facts, Earp requested of both papers that their temporary sojourn in Albuquerque should remain unnoticed until they could be assured that the knowledge of their whereabouts would not bring a party of cow-boy avengers down upon them. To back his assertions regarding Governor Tritle's feeling toward them, Earp presented THE REVIEW several convincing documents, and his request was accordingly granted by this paper, as it was by the Journal.
The party remained in Albuquerque for a week or more, their identity being well known to fifty people or more, leaving the city nearly two weeks ago. During their stay here "Doc" Holliday and Wyatt Earp quarreled, and when Albuquerque was left the party disbanded, Holliday going with Tipton.
Notwithstanding the fact that the newspapers did not speak of their arrival here, it became known in Arizona, and Tombstone supplied a party of man-hunters, who, it appears from Arizona papers received this morning at last found their prey. The Epitaph gives an account of the killing of Wyatt Earp near Hooker's, Arizona, last Monday, by a party which ambushed and attacked him while the Citizen indorses the news, adding the statement that Tipton was killed last week while with Doc Holliday. No particulars are published of the killing as both papers received their information through private sources. Wyatt met his death while returning from a visit to his wounded brother, at Colton, California, who had but the week before assured a citizen of Tombstone that all of them would, as soon as he was well, return to Arizona and stand trial on the charges preferred against them.
The party, while in Albuquerque, deported themselves very sensibly, performing no acts of rowdyism, and this way gained not a few friends for their side of the fight. It appears that in Tombstone a general feeling of regret that instead of these last two murders the party were not tried fairly in open court prevails.

NOTE: Wyatt, of course, was still very much alive. The quarrel referred to would be the same one mentioned in the Miguel Otero letter.



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Albuquerque Morning Journal, May 14, 1882

At no time in their lives did the Earp desperadoes call at the JOURNAL office. They seem to have consorted with the sandy sorehead of the sundown sheet while they remained in hiding in this city.

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Albuquerque Evening Review, August 9, 1882

Virgil Earp, some time since a temporary citizen of Albuquerque, and withal a much more peaceable man than people would imagine one of his name to be, went to California and was one of the gamblers raided in San Francisco the other day. Fourteen hundred dollars and a faro lay out were found in his room. 

NOTE: The writer was mistaken — Virgil Earp was not among the group that made its way to Albuquerque.


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Albuquerque Evening Review, November 8, 1882

The latest news from the quondam Albuquerqueans, the Earp crowd, is that Wyatt, Warren and Virgil Earp are in San Francisco, engaged in dealing faro. Texas Jack is in Colorado, Doc Holliday in Leadville, McMasters and Johnson in Mexico, and Tipton in the Gunnison country.

 

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