Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wyatt Earp: The Gunfighter That Was....Commodore Perry Owens: The Gunfighter That Wasn’t

            So, welcome back to WWW Woody’s Wild West for another tale of the true west from the center of the real west.

 From that opening title most would say,” what is this tall tale all about.” The truth of the matter is, before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Oct. 26 1881, Wyatt Earp had only killed one man. Whereas, in the feud at the O.K. corral, three men were killed. A feat he accomplished with the aid of his two brothers and Doc Holiday. In thirty seconds thirty shots were fired, killing only three men, with three wounded out of the Earp party.
On the other hand, Commodore Perry Owens had at least one gunfight to his credit (in 1887 if time matters) where he had killed three men wounding a fourth. Single handed in one gunfight. One of those so called “men” was a sixteen year boy whom he blew back into his mother's arms and with only four shots. Just like Wyatt, he wasn’t touched.

Commodore Perry Owens
On Sept. 4 1887 its seems Sheriff Owens (Sheriff of Apache County AZ) had a warrant to serve on one Andy Cooper Blevins at his brother's home in Holbrook, AZ.  Blevins was a rustler who had fled the bloody Tewksbury feud (in which he participated).  As Owens approached the house, Cooper’s Brother, John Blevins, warned him of the Sheriffs arrival. Owens, knowing this man, had arrived prepared for the worst.  He stepped on the porch with Winchester in hand and pistol at his hip. He saw three men through a window in the house. As Owens orders Cooper to surrender, Cooper opened the door with his left hand and in his right hand, aimed his pistol dead center of Owens. At that precise moment, from a side door emerged Cooper’s brother John. 

They had Owens in the middle, in a deadly crossfire -- or so they thought.  A very deadly assumption with this man. With the calmness that only a gunman of his stature could exhibit, he told the rustler he had a warrant for his arrest. Cooper’s reply was to shoot, as did Owens. Both sounding as one shot. Cooper’s shot missed. Owens didn’t. His bullet found its mark. Cooper moved back into the house... Owens backed into the street to get a better view of the house. Johnny Blevins, the man at the side door, had not gotten the message of this deadly gunman.  Blevins fired and missed.  He hit Owens horse which was tied to a tree. With one more shot, Owens' Winchester hit Blevins in the shoulder. Owens then fired a third shot from his Winchester after he saw Cooper moving in the house killing Cooper. The third man in the house, Mose Roberts, joined in the foray jumping out of a window.  As he turned to run, he caught a round in the back. Gun in hand, Roberts stumbled to the rear door of the house where he fell dead.  At this moment, unfortunately, Samuel Houston Blevins (age estimated sixteen) picked up a pistol from his dying brother and aimed it at Owens. Owens fired once again and the boy fell dying into his mothers arms. I am sure Owens was not happy about how circumstances in this situation had turned out, but he was surely left with no options. The situation was sure to turn deadly no matter the age.
Wyatt Earp
            Now don’t misunderstand me -- Wyatt Earp was definitely a man to be reckoned with, but I think you can see why the title. Wyatt had a well deserved reputation and was feared by a many men. This realization may have been their salvation.  Whereas, Owens was not as well known. Hence some thought (wrongfully so) they could better him. As you can see this would put Owens in situations were things could turn deadly because men were willing to take a chance.   

Wyatt got a lot of ink before his death, even more after he died because of his exploits, the people he associated with, and famous people he met later in the movie business.  He didn’t become real famous (try as he may) until after he died. I will have a lot more of this later in another of my tales of the old west. So long for now from Center of the Real West, at WWW Woodys Wild West.   

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