For my ghost tour, I use the name Parson George in homage to George Whitwell Parsons. Mr. Parsons was a pioneer and businessman who moved to Tombstone in 1880 and remained for about 10 years. The remarkable thing about Mr. Parsons was that he kept a journal and recorded the daily activity of Tombstone’s common folks. His journal gives historians a keen insight into the life of a “normal” person in a mining boom town like Tombstone. As an example, his entry for October 27, 1881, the day after the Gunfight on Fremont Street (later called the Gunfight at the OK Corral) starts: “Snow this morning. Windy and extremely cold and disagreeable…” It was this chance comment that let us know that the weather was unseasonably cold during that gunfight, not warm as expected in the desert or depicted in movies. If you wonder what he had to say about that gunfight, he was out-of-town attending to business at a mine several miles away, but here are his words from the next day:
At Charleston we dined by invitation of H and reached Tombstone about five o’clock. Much excitement in town and people apprehensive and scary. A bad time yesterday when Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp, with Doc Holliday, had a street fight the two McLaurys and Bill Clanton and Ike, all but the latter being killed, and W and M Earp wounded. Desperate men and a desperate encounter. Bad blood has been brewing some time and I was not surprised at the outbreak. It is only a wonder it has not happened before. A raid is feared upon the town by the cowboys and measures have been taken to protect life and property. The “Stranglers” were out in force and showed sand. My cowboy appearance and attire was not in keeping with the excited mind. Loud talking, or talking in groups, was thought out of place. Had to laugh at some of the nervousness. It has been a bad scare and the worst is not yet over some think.“A Tenderfoot in Tombstone,” p 188
The “Stranglers” Mr. Parsons mentioned was likely a vigilante group. The Daily Nugget, a local newspaper that was friendly toward the Cowboys, referred to the Epitaph, the other newspaper that was friendly toward the Earps, as the “Daily Strangler.” Since the editor of the Epitaph, John Clum, was an advocate of vigilantism it is likely that he supported a vigilante organization that became known as “The Stranglers” among the citizens of Tombstone.