Gunfight – New Mexico, 1886

A gunfight between outlaw cattlemen and ranchers along the La Plata river near Fruitland in northwest New Mexico, about 8 pm, Monday, November 8, 1886.

“… Hilton’s bullet went into my wrist, cutting the cords of my fingers… Delush’s bullet struck me about three inches farther up the arm, splintering the bone and coming out the elbow… my shot hit Sherman Hilton in the right hip joint tearing it all to pieces. He fell about 10 feet from me but kept shooting at me until he had emptied both of his pistols. One other shot hit me in the groin… The four outlaws that were left, each took a Winchester and stood behind the wagon and emptied the magazines of their rifles at me. Bullets pierced my overcoat instead of my body; there were 29 bullet holes in my overcoat and one bullet cut a swath through my whiskers just under my chin.”

The gunfight is described in unpublished personal journals of two participants of the event, David Alma Stevens (my great uncle), who was 27 at the time, and his sister Abbie Stevens Young (my grandmother), who was 16 at the time and helped nurse her brother back to health. Also some information on the gunfight from the Deseret News is included. This information is from copies of family journals compiled by Gladys Young Knight (my aunt) and her daughter Elaine (my cousin). I am very grateful to Elaine for making these materials available to me (about 2001). Some background information on the range war is from the self-published book, “Our Valley”, by Rosetta Biggs, Mesa, Az, 1978.
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