Testimony of R. J. Campbell
in the Preliminary  Hearing in the Earp-Holliday Case,
Heard before Judge Wells Spicer

November 23, 1881

On this twenty-third day of November, 1881, on the hearing of the above entitled cause, on the examination of Wyatt Earp and J. H. Holliday; R. J. Campbell of Tombstone, a witness of lawful age, being produced and sworn, deposes and says as follows: 

R. J. Campbell, Tombstone, Arizona Territory, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, of Cochise County, Arizona Territory.

(Q) [Question not written.]

(A) I know Ike Clanton and know William Clanton and Frank McLaury, and only knew Tom McLaury by sight. Had no acquaintance with him.

(Q) Did you know the reputation of the three former during their lives and that of Ike Clanton for coolness and courage and for expertness and dexterity in the use of firearms? [Prosecution objects. Overruled.]

(A) The reputation of Frank McLaury was a brave and courageous man and that he was an expert in the use of firearms. Ike Clanton is the same. William Clanton, I can't say for him, only by reputation, that he was an expert in the use of firearms. I did not know Tom McLaury, only by sight.

(Q) [Question not written.]

(A) I saw all of them on that day. I came down the street [in] the morning and someone told me that the Earp boys and Ike Clanton had had some trouble.1 I went to Wallace's Court, and Wyatt Earp went in ahead of me. He took a seat on a bench inside of the railing. Ike Clanton was sitting on the outside of the railing. A few minutes after I got in, Wyatt Earp looked towards Ike Clanton and said, "You have threatened my life two or three times and I have got the best of evidence to prove it, and I want this thing stopped!", or words to that effect. Some other conversation ensued that I don't remember, when Wyatt Earp walked up to the railing and facing Ike Clanton said, "You cattle thieving son-of-a-bitch, and you know that I know you are a cattle thieving son-of-a-bitch, you've threatened my life enough, and you've got to fight!", and Ike Clanton made the remark, "Fight is my racket, and all I want is four feet of ground!"

(Q) [Question not written.]

(A) Morgan Earp and Ike Clanton were having an excited conversation about arresting and knocking him down. Ike turned to Morgan Earp and said, "If you fellows had been a second later, I would have furnished a Coroner's Inquest for the town!”

(Q) What did [you] gather from the context of the conversation that Ike Clanton meant by, "a second" later second later than what?

[Prosecution objects. Sustained.]



(Q) Regarding Ike in court, and his wounds, "if any?"

(A) I don't know what he was there for, only from hearsay. I understood he was there under arrest for carrying concealed weapons. He was holding a handkerchief to the side of his head. Did not pay any attention to it. Did not see him with any firearms there. I did not see Wyatt Earp have any firearms [in courtroom]. Morgan Earp, I think, had a rifle in his hands and a six-shooter. Did not see Judge Wallace there during the conversation just related. There were a great many people there and I am not positive as to who were there. Did not see Frank McLaury there, nor William Clanton, nor Tom McLaury.

(Q) Are Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday by reputation men of cool courage and experts in the use of firearms?

(A) They are.

(Q) How long had you known Frank McLaury on October 26th, last?

(A) Six months. His reputation [as stated in examination in chief] was a general reputation.

(Q) As to Ike's remark about "Coroner's Inquest for the town?

(A) The remark was made in Judge Wallace's courtroom, and just after a conversation between Morgan Earp and Ike Clanton as to his arrest for carrying concealed weapons. It was said in the presence of a number of persons. A man called Coleman was there. I met him at the door on going in the room. I can't remember the names of any others. It was stated in an ordinary tone of voice and there were other parties as near to him as I was.

(Q) I will ask, if, when Ike Clanton was in Wallace's courtroom under arrest as you have stated, was that the time that Wyatt Earp said to Ike Clanton: "You cattle thieving son-of-a-bitch, and you know you are a cattle thieving son-of-a-bitch, you've got to fight!"?

(A) Yes sir. That was the time.

(Q) Before you heard what you stated in your last answer, did you hear Ike Clanton say anything at that place and time?

(A) This conversation took place just after I got in; and when I got in, Morgan Earp and Ike Clanton were talking excitedly.

(Q) Who was talking to Ike Clanton when he says, "Fight is my racket," as you stated [before]?

(A) Wyatt Earp was talking to him.

(Q) When did you see Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and William Clanton?

(A) The last time I saw of them, they were going into the O.K. Coral, before the difficulty.

(Q) You stated in your examination in chief that Wyatt Earp told Ike Clanton, in Wallace's courtroom, that he, Clanton, had threatened his life enough. What reply, if any, did Clanton make to that?

(A) He made no reply that I heard.


[Signed] R. J. Campbell

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