Johnny Ringo is best known as a gunfighter whose escapades started from his life as a young adult when he left his family who lived in California for Texas. He went on to be entangled in what is popularly known as the Hoodoo War or Mason County War in the 1800s and from then on, he lived his life on the fast lane. Johnny Ringo associated himself with a number of outlaw groups notorious for robberies and murders all over Tombstone, Texas. However, he met his waterloo in 1882, and to date, a lot of controversies surround his death. His life and crimes, as well as the circumstances surrounding his demise, will make a very interesting read.
Life of Johnny Ringo: Who Was He?
This notorious gunman was born on May 3rd, 1850 with the birth name John Peters Ringo. At the time of his birth, his parents were based in Indiana but seven years later in 1857, they relocated to Gallatin in Missouri. After living in Missouri for about 7 years, they decided to move to the city of San Jose in California. Little did they know that this journey will lead to the tragic death of Johnny Ringo’s father, Martin Ringo which was caused by the accidental discharge of his shotgun as he tried to step down from the truck. He was buried immediately and his family continued their journey to San Jose which became their new home.
What Were The Crimes of Johnny Ringo?
Towards the end of the 1860s, Johnny Ringo who was a young adult left his family in California and moved to Texas where he started his escapades as a gunfighter before turning into a full-blown outlaw. More so, his friendship with the former Texas ranger, Scott Cooley landed him in the popular Mason County War or Hoodoo War in 1875. This battle which was predominantly between the Americans and the Germans was triggered off when two cattle thieves were lynched by some Germans. There was also an American farmer that was killed shortly after that and in retaliation, Scott Cooley waged war on the Germans. This battle later resulted in the death of a number of persons and it was also the period in which Ringo made his first kill.
After this bloody battle came to an end in 1876, Johnny Ringo was acquitted of his charges and two years later, Loyal Valley made him one of their constables. The next year, Johnny went to Arizona for the first time in the company of Joe Hill, an acquaintance of his during the Hoodoo War. However, he landed into trouble not too long after his arrival when he shot a man identified as Louis Hancock who would rather have a beer than the whiskey Johnny was offering. Although Hancock was not fatally injured, the gunfighter became notorious for his bad temper and mischiefs from that day onward.
It is also known that during his time in Tombstone, Arizona, he was linked to notorious gangs like the Cochise County Boys who were involved in several killings and cases of robberies. Johnny Ringo was also arrested in Tombstone for his brawl with Doc Holliday which almost resulted in a gunfight. After that incident, he was arrested again for a case of theft in Galeyville and was accused of Morgan Earp’s murder which all occurred in 1882.
How and When Did He Die?
The year 1882 did not only mark a period in which the notorious gunfighter got himself in a lot of trouble but it also marked the end of his existence. His lifeless body was discovered on July 14th, 1882 by a man named Jon Yoast – who reported that he heard what sounded like a gunshot a day before while he was at his own property. The next day, Jon went over to where the sound of the gunshot came from and what he saw was the body of Johnny Ringo with a bullet shot in his temple.
However, there have been several sides to this story, and though it is recorded officially that Johnny took his own life, some people still believe one of his rivals killed him. Many speculate that it could have been Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Buckskin Frank Leslie, or one of his outlaw gunfighter rivals. He was eventually buried at the spot he was found and his gravesite is only visited after permission has been granted by the authorities.
It is also known that the life and questionable death of Johnny Ringo has been the subject of many authors as well as filmmakers over the years. His character was captured in a book titled Confessions of Johnny Ringo while several films like The Gunfighter released in 1950, City of Badmen in 1953, The Last World in 1999, and several other movies have used various actors to depict Johnny’s role.