What do you know about Pete Spence, a member of the “Cowboys” of Tombstone?

What do you know about Pete Spence, a member of the “Cowboys” of Tombstone?

Bob Wood

Hugo, Minnesota

Pete Spence was born Elliot Larkin Ferguson in 1850 in Louisiana. In 1875, he joined a company of Texas Rangers and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He eventually showed up in Arizona using the name Peter Spencer and became associated with the “Cowboys” in Cochise County.

In the aftermath of the feud between the Cowboys and the law and order crowd, led by Virgil and Wyatt Earp, Spence moved to Globe where he partnered up again with “Cowboys” Ike and Fin Clanton. While engaged in rustling activities, Ike was killed in Apache County by lawmen and Fin was caught and sent to prison. Pete was also sent to the Yuma Territorial Prison in 1893, but he was pardoned a little more than a year later. After Fin died in 1906, Pete married Fin’s widow.

When Morgan Earp was murdered in March 1882, Pete’s own wife claimed Pete was mixed up in the killing. Wyatt later said that although Pete was allied with the outlaws, he was satisfied Pete had nothing to do with the assassination.

The best book on the man is Roy Young’s Pete Spence: Audacious Artist in Crime.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu