Monday, August 6, 2018

Hanging Starr Daley

July 30, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The first time I ever heard the story about the lynching of Starr Daley, it was from George “Brownie” Holmes. Holmes was a pioneer Arizonian. His father was born at Fort Whipple and his grandfather traveled along the Gila Trail in the late 1840’s. “Brownie” Holmes was a good friend of Nancy McCollough and Clay Worst. I am sure both of them heard the “Brownie’s” version of the hanging of Starr Daley along the old Roosevelt Road.

I was talking to “Brownie” one day. He mentioned that he was an eyewitness to the hanging of Starr Daley at 4 a.m. on Sunday, May 6, 1917. The hanging occurred along the old Roosevelt Road, just off the old Florence-Goldfield Road and four miles north of Dan Kleeman’s ranch in Pinal County.

“Brownie” went on to explain that Starr Daley, alias Van Ashmore, was 26 years old at the time he was lynched by a large group of citizen vigilantes. The story was interesting, so I continued to research it for several years.
Starr Daley hanging from a telephone pole along
the Roosevelt Road north of the Kleinman Ranch.
The court ruled the hanging as a “justifiable homicide.”

I pieced together the following information from “Brownie’s” account, the New York Times article of May 6, 1917, and other information I was able to acquire:

James Roy and Florence Gibson were returning to Tucson on May 3, 1917, after visiting family in Globe. They were driving along the Apache Trail about 23 miles east of Mesa when they decided to camp for the night. They pulled onto the old Superior highway and drove for a few more miles before stopping.

Florence Gibson set about preparing supper, while James set up camp. Just at dark, a stranger rode in on a lathered-up horse. He was tired, and James Gibson offered him water. In return for this hospitality, Starr Daley shot James Roy Gibson in the back three or four times with a rifle. He then ordered Florence Gibson to disrobe, and if she didn’t obey, he would kill her also.

Starr Daley assaulted Florence repeatedly throughout the night. On Friday morning, May 4, Daley ordered Florence to feed him and load the car. Florence refused to load the car unless Daley would take her husband’s body to the funeral home for burial. Daley grudgingly agreed.

While driving toward Mesa, the car ran out of gas. Daley decided to walk to the nearest gas station, leaving Florence in the car with her dead husband. Florence flagged down the first person she saw and told them what had happened. The man she told was named Phelps. He reported the incident to Mesa’s Town Marshal Peyton. Peyton arrested Daley before he returned to the stalled car. Daley offered no resistance and was booked into jail on an open charge of murder and rape.

Friday evening, Daley wanted to talk. He told how he had acquired a rifle and murdered Roy James Gibson and raped his wife repeatedly. Six jurors had earlier found Daley responsible for Roy Gibson’s death. Florence Gibson was spared testifying about Daley’s assault on her. After the hearing, Maricopa County Sheriff Wilkey returned Daley to his cell.

Saturday, May 5, an angry crowd had formed in front of the Maricopa County Jail. By 10 p.m., the mob had grown to several hundred citizens. Sheriff Wilkey decided to transfer his prisoner to another jail. The sheriff loaded Daley into a car and started for Florence. The mob chased the Sheriff until they were able to overtake him. They were able to trap the sheriff near a bridge and take his prisoner at about 2 a.m. Sunday. They hauled Daley back to the scene of his crime, and there he would pay for his evil deed.

Starr Daley swung into oblivion from the back of a car at 6 a.m., May 6, 1917. At daybreak, his body still hung from the telephone pole of justice in the desert, just west of Superstition Mountain, along the old Roosevelt Road. A coroner’s jury from Florence held an inquest and ruled Daley’s death as “justifiable homicide, by hanging, at the hands of unknown parties.”

“Brownie” George Holmes later told me he drove one of Wes Hill’s stage line vehicles out to the lynching of Starr Daley. Was “Brownie” one of the actual participants of this hanging? I don’t know; he never said. But knowing “Brownie,” I doubt he would have physically participated in such a violent affair. This was officially the last lynching recorded in annals of Arizona history.

Caption: Starr Daley hanging from a telephone pole along the Roosevelt Road north of the Kleinman Ranch. The court ruled the hanging as a “justifiable homicide.”

Monday, July 30, 2018

Are We All Americans?

July 23, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

A special flag that had been draped over the coffin of a World War II veteran buried at Arlington National Cemetery was flown atop Superstition Mountain each Memorial Day from 1982 to 1992.

The recent headlines that illustrated the danger of being a correspondent, columnist or employee of a newspaper were really a reminder and struck home for me.

I have never really considered myself a correspondent, but maybe a storyteller of history and legend. When I read the news about the massacre at The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, I couldn’t help but have part of my heart and soul torn from my body.

During the past fifty years, I have worked with many news correspondents from all over these United States and the World talking about Superstition Mountain, its history and legend. Now I wonder what has happened to America after this tragedy. We, as a nation, must wake up. We are not conservatives, independents or liberals—we are Americans first. We all bled the same color on many battlefields, no matter our race, religion or politics.

We are all Americans who believe in the Bill of Rights and the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution, which protects those rights.

Each and every one of us should know them by heart. Today, the First Amendment protects our religion from government persecution, gives us the freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom of the press and separates the government from any control or form of religion.

First of all, and most important, we are all Americans. Americans have the right to disagree; but to take our disagreements to a violent level—we do not have that right. Too often these disagreements lead to violent altercations that end in death.

What has changed in America during the past fifty years? Have we become so dangerous in our interactions with others today that we are all at risk?

Freedom of Press is one of the most important parts of a free and open society. Reporters try to report the news by interviews and research. Most newspeople do their very best to report the news accurately with interviews and photographs.

Anytime a government tries to censor the freedom of the press, they are moving toward a dictatorship or an authoritarian type of government where the Bill of Rights is no longer part of that government.

If you don’t remember the Bill of Rights, you should take the time to review it on your phone or computer, or go to the library and read it.

Today, many people talk about the Second Amendment as the only amendment of the Bill of Rights. I am also a strong adv
ocate of the 2nd Amendment, but some people should not have firearms in our society today.

They claim that without arms, we would have no rights. Of course that depends on who has the arms. There are many dictatorships in Central and South American controlled by those who have the guns. There are many people in our country today that would suspend the Bill of Rights if they could.

One of the most important rights is the Freedom of the Press. This is the right to know what is going on, from the White House to down the street. Transparency is important in government, so Americans know what is going on in their country. This information is supplied by those who work for the various news agencies, and these are the eyes and ears of America, not social media as many people think. More phony news comes from social media than anywhere else. Yes, some news sources are biased, but we as Americans have a choice and selection of our source of news. This country is being torn apart by extremist and phony politicians. Somebody needs to stand up and say, “We are all Americans.” It is most important that we are Americans and believe in the “Constitution” of the United States of America. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

With all my heart and soul, I want to believe those staff members of The Capital did not die in vain for doing their jobs of reporting the news.