We have lived here for five years and only recently learned that on October 23, 1982, there was a shootout in Cochise County more historically and socially significant, in my opinion, than the famous October 26, 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone.
The battle in Tombstone, the personalities involved and the events leading up to the gunfight, have all become fictionalized legend with little truth really known other than that shots were fired and people died. Two movies made in the early 1990s portrayed the events and personalities quite differently and neither movie tried to offer a newsreel account of historical significance.
In modern accounts, the Earps, Doc Holliday, their allies, and womenfolk are portrayed as less than perfect but it is accepted that they were the “good guys”. At the time, however, they were prosecuted, hounded out of town, and generally treated with contempt.
One hundred and one years and three days after the gunfight at the OK corral a three years long real life drama culminated in another Cochise County shootout. This time there was a cast of hundreds with law enforcement battling a mob outnumbering them almost six to one. The location was Miracle Valley, Arizona. It was a miracle that only three people died due to injuries sustained during the battle.
Paralleling the response to the OK corral battle, nationally known political players used Jimmy Judd, the Sheriff of Cochise County at the time, and his deputies as pawns in their power games and attempted to convict them in the media.
Fortunately, William R. Daniel spent three years researching the historical truth about what happened in Miracle Valley and compiled what he learned into his recently released book, “Shootout at Miracle Valley”. From 1979 to 1982, Sheriff Judd and his deputies exhibited what I can only call “super-professional” restraint while working to restore peace to and to protect the law-abiding citizens of Miracle Valley. This book finally tells the story of those years from the point of view of the law-abiding citizens and their law enforcement protectors. It includes many photos that support that point of view and that show just what they were up against in their attempts to live in peace with the hostile, militant cult in their midst.
Anyone even casually interested in the history of Cochise County will want to get a copy of this book for his or her library. Many individuals mentioned in the book are also still a part of the political world of Cochise County, the state of Arizona, and on the national level. I picked up my copy during a book signing in Willcox. The author and several of the deputies who were serving the county at that time and involved in the final battle were gracious enough to sign my copy. To get your own signed copy you can go to www.wheatmark.com. They are selling copies signed by author William R. Daniel as well as Ray Thatcher, Bert Goodman, Homer Fletcher, Rick Tutor, Bill Breen, Paul Gruen, Rodney W. Rothrock, Larry Dempster, Jim D. Self, Gary Smith, Buddy Hale, and our current Sheriff Larry A. Deaver. Sheriff Deaver was a deputy at the time and sustained wounds from shotgun blasts to his face and torso. Most of the deputies sustained serious, if not mortal, wounds, some requiring numerous surgeries over the decades. You can also purchase the book on www.amazon.com.