Ike Clanton was a member of the infamous group that called themselves “The Cowboys” and was an archetypal figure of the old American Wild West. The Cowboys were led by Ike’s father, who was sometimes called “Old man Clanton”. The group was notorious for terror, violence, wrongful killings, indiscriminate use of weapons, and cattle theft. They had a longstanding rivalry with the Earp brothers.
Ike Clanton Biography
Ike Clanton, whose real name is Joseph Isaac Clanton, lived from 1847 to June 1, 1887, and was born in Missouri (County Callaway) to Newman Haynes Clanton and Mariah Sexton Clanton. He had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. His father worked in various professions before becoming a cattle rancher. He worked as a farmer, gold digger, and then as a cattle rancher on Arizona territory. Ike Clanton moved with his family to Tombstone, Arizona territory in the late 1870s. For a time he ran a “food bank” on the town’s mill grounds and also helped his brothers look after their father.
In 1881, he began working on his father’s ranch, which became a family business. The Clantons (father and brothers), their ranch hands, and their employees were called “the cowboys”. His mother died in 1866, his father in 1881.
Childhood And Life Of Crime
Ike Clanton grew into a life of violence, especially following in the footsteps of his father and brothers. Their ranch (Cienega Amarillo) was located near Mount Escudilla, east of Springerville. He was popular with the locals because he wore himself like a successful businessman who could throw money around – although he was hot-tempered, drank a lot, and was very noisy. There was a rumor in Tombstone that the Clantons boasted of the success of their ranch, mainly because they did not have to buy their cows like other ranchers.
This once again confirmed their cattle theft activities. On October 26, 1881, there was a showdown between the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons, which Ike instigated. His brother Billy and Frank Mclaury, when they heard about the fight, rushed into town to support Ike. Like a coward, he ran away when the shooting began, claiming that he was unarmed. Sadly, his 19-year-old brother Billy died during the shooting.
Ironically, Ike’s inconsistency in his testimony also exonerated the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday from the murder charges brought against them for Billy’s death. This made Clanton very angry, and he made several attempts to avenge his brother’s death personally.
How Did He Die?
Ike, along with his brother Phineas, had been charged by the state with cattle theft, and Detective Jonas Brighton tried to bring them to trial. On June 1, 1887, at a ranch in Springfield, Arizona, while both Ike and Phineas were being attacked by detectives, Phineas willingly surrendered to the law, but Ike did not and was shot in a gun battle with the detectives.
A source present on the same day Ike Clanton was killed told an eyewitness of the sequence of events that led to his death. He stated that Ike went to a farm and was met at the door by Mr. Brighton and another detective, Mr. Miller, who was present to provide any assistance that might be needed.
When he saw Detective Miller, Ike drew his rifle to shoot the lawman and was told by the two detectives to stop, but unfortunately, he did not heed their warning. As he prepared his rifle to aim at them, Detective Brighton shot him and the bullet entered his body just below his right arm, went straight through his beating heart, and exited his body just below his left arm. Ike Clanton was killed instantly by this single shot.
After his death, some men came to identify his body and took his remains to bury them in a shallow grave under a very large grave. Ike has survived by many relatives, and some of Clanton’s descendants are still living in the West. Over the years, Ike Clanton’s lifetime of crimes and other acts of violence has been portrayed in various films and feature films, with some providing accurate details and other inaccurate descriptions.