Wednesday, March 02, 2016

State historian gives lowdown on outlaws

“People think the Old West ended in 1895. Not in Arizona,” official State Historian Marshall Trimble told a full house Friday night at the Pinal County Historical Society Museum. Trimble was speaking about his new book, “Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen,” at a benefit for the museum. One of the state’s great outlaw characters from the late 1800s was Rufus Nephew, also known as “Climax Jim” from the brand of tobacco he constantly chewed. “I couldn’t help but like” Nephew, and the lawmen of his day liked him too,” Trimble said. Nephew once accepted a check as payment for some cattle he had stolen, then was arrested after he altered the check. At his trial, as the prosecutor and defense attorney were arguing, Nephew picked up the key piece of evidence — the check — and added it to the wad of chaw in his mouth. Nephew later spat it out in the judge’s own spittoon. “There was ‘Exhibit A,’” Trimble said. Another time, Nephew had been arrested with some stolen cattle and smelled terrible after many days on the run. As he was about to wash up outside the jail, he saw a very fine horse tied to a hitching post. His priority then became to steal the horse, and he rode naked through Springerville and Eagar, Trimble said...more

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