Was Flagstaff left lawless between 1897-1899?
In the book Blow your little tin whistle a man by the last name of Sommerville claimed that while living in Arizona he took a job as a bookkeeper in the sheriff’s office in Flagstaff. He said he functioned more as a deputy because sheriff Fletcher Fairchild was committed to an “insane asylum,” and the regular deputy liked to spend time in the gambling saloons.
Fletcher Jr., told the story of his father’s tragic fate: My father met a tragic death ... He was a Texas Ranger in the early days, and you know how when they used to drive the trail herds to Dodge City and Abilene and all those places, the Earp’s and Bat Masterson used to give those cowboys quite a bad time. At one time there was some cowboys that were real close friends of my father’s that went up there with a trail herd. A few of these fellows gun whipped them and one thing and another. My father and a few more of the Rangers down there who were personal friends of them boys just made a trip up there to Dodge themselves. And they got into quite a little melee with the Earp’s. Wyatt Earp in particular. Wyatt was a rank enemy of my father from that time. And was prior I guess. But they had this big deal up there and they didn’t use guns. Just used their fists. My father got his nose broken very badly in this fight ... he couldn’t breathe real good. So after my father was elected sheriff in 1898 and figuring he had the money to do it, he made a trip to Los Angeles to see a fine specialist, such as they were in them days and have his nose operated on. So my father went out there and he wouldn’t take any anesthetic. Just sat in this chair and let them carve on him. So the consequence was that it made him very nervous. The thing wasn’t all that successful. So he died then, I believe it was in October of 1899.
Weekly Journal-Miner 08/23/1899
Fletcher Fairchild, sheriff of Coconino County, has been committed to the insane asylum. He has a brother in the same institution. James A. Johnston, of Williams, has been appointed sheriff in place of Fairchild. The latter has been incapacitated from filling the office ever since his election.
Weekly Journal-Miner 11-01-1899
Fletcher Fairchild, of Flagstaff died at the insane asylum at Phoenix on Monday. Mr Fairchild had served as deputy Sheriff of Coconino County for several years and last fall he was elected sheriff. His mental condition was such on January 1, however, that he was unable to perform the duties, although he remained as the nominal sheriff of the county until three or four months ago, when it was found necessary to take him to the asylum. He leaves a wife and six children.
Silver City Enterprise Nov. 17, 1899
Fletcher Fairchild, late sheriff of Coconino, Arizona, died recently in the insane asylum at Phoenix. Mr. Fairchild resided in Grant county several years. In 1885 he was a deputy of Sheriff Woods at Georgetown. He had many friends for he was as brave and true a man as ever lived in this country.
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