Monday, January 20, 2014

Tombstone Series ~ Are You There Moriarty? Part II

Wanting to know what lead to the infamous showdown with Judge Barnes, I dug a little deeper and found the rest of the story. Stanley was a merchant in many guises and for a few years he ran auction and commission houses at 506 and 508 Allen Street. 



Allen Street ~ Left to Right
Tombstone Prospector, Auction Houses, 
Nobles Hotel, 
Schieffelin Hall (stand alone building)
Courtesy Tombstone Archives


Always active in community affairs he was elected a city councilman for the Fourth Ward in 1886. On November 19, 1886 he was appointed to the committees on finance, printing, gas, fire, water, and public buildings.


City Council Minutes 1886
Courtesy Tombstone Archives

"Bagg, in cahoots with Judge James Reilly, Martin Costello, Andy Ritter, and Joseph Pascholy were upset with the Tombstone newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph. On a dare he decided to rival the Epitaph, thus the origin of the Tombstone Prospector, in 1887." (1)
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"The Prospector was conceived to offset what some powerful Tombstonans suspected were sinister forces at work behind the editorial masthead of the Tombstone Epitaph. The Prospector was established March 7, 1887 as an independent daily paper. Feeling the need for a more combative approach, Bagg, who viewed the Epitaph as little more than a mouthpiece of a Cochise County ring centered around the courthouse, took over as editor and sole owner of the Prospector in 1889." (2)
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"The Prospector's mission was to combat the powerful group which ruled the roost at the courthouse.  Combat duty was turned over to editor Jimmy Nash, who did what Bagg called a "poor job." So Bagg stepped in to give the county ring a real fight. A showdown ensued when both papers submitted bids for what Bagg later called "the velvet of the business at the time" ~ the printing contract for the Cochise County government.  

Both papers bid on the contract: it was awarded to The Epitaph even though Bagg's bid was much lower. Denied the velvet, Bagg sued the county, only to lose the case before District Judge W.H. Barnes. Unwilling to let the matter rest, Bagg's Prospector attacked the decision in print ~ the move that landed him back before Judge Barnes on a contempt charge. 


In 1891, Bagg solved the rivalry problem by purchasing The Epitaph. He returned it to weekly status and a Sunday review publication.  Having been the butt of Epitaph commentary, none of it too complimentary, bagging The Epitaph must have been sweet for the five-foot tall furniture store owner and son of the founder of the Detroit Tribune." (3)

He ran the Prospector until 1895. During that period of time he was involved in all things social, political and economic in Cochise County and the Territory. He became widely known, well liked, and was respected by friends and foes. In the early 1880's he was appointed to the Territorial Prison Commission and by 1893 he was chairman. 

(1) Cochise County Stalwarts Lynn R. Bailey, (2) Those Old Yellow Dog Days, Frontier Journalism in Arizona 1859-1912 William H. Lyon (3) Fred Schoemehl editor, National Edition of the Tombstone Epitaph