By Gary Dillard
One of the things I like about giving tours of Bisbee for Lavender Jeep Tours is that I’m constantly learning more about the town. Just as when I dig into old newspapers and other historical sources.
During the Greater Bisbee tour and the Mining Landscape tour, I drive visitors down Cole Avenue, past Greenway School and the Greenway House and talk a bit about Jack and Isabella Greenway. I know quite a bit about Jack, the engineer and manager of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Co. interests, but I did not know that he was a good friend of famous lawman Jeff Milton. Tonight I was poring over old newspapers searching for information about Willis Woods, an escapee from the Tombstone jail and a “general bad man.”
More bad men
I found linked to him another bad man named Colney Musgrave, more of a wannabe bad man, but brother of George Musgrave, one-time member of the Black Jack Ketchum gang, which from the late 1890s till about 1910 plundered at will in New Mexico and Arizona, as well as some in Texas and elsewhere.
In August 1896, the gang had attempted to rob a bank in Nogales. In November, it had wandered back into New Mexico and a high-powered posse encountered it and shot it out. George Musgrave was wounded (but not captured) and another member of the gang was killed. The posse included two deputy U.S. marshals, four Apache scouts from San Carlos, four other unnamed men and two Wells Fargo special agents, including J.D. Milton.
The Jeff Milton story, in brief
That was Jeff Davis Milton, who was a lawman in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, including a spell as a deputy for Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter. (We’ll take you to Slaughter’s ranch in southeastern Cochise County, if you’d like.) But Milton is best known for a 1900 shootout at Fairbank. He was guarding an express car when a gang of half a dozen men attempted to rob it. In the ensuing shootout, he killed “Three Fingered Jack” Dunlop and wounded another, but was wounded himself. Though Dr. George Goodfellow saved his arm, it became useless. Milton later became an immigration inspector, a job less demanding of such confrontations.
Back to the original story. As I was looking for information on Jeff Milton, I came across a site that listed all the guns the lawman had owned. One was a Colt Single-action Army, chambered for the .44-40, with the backstrap inscribed: “TO JEFF MILTON / FROM YOUR FRIEND / JOHN C. GREENWAY 1916 N.M.” A 1916 news report said that Milton was living in Ajo at that time, having been transferred there as immigration inspector and also running his own small mine south of there. Greenway oversaw the open-pit mine at Ajo and had a home in that town. (Somewhat embarrassingly for the old lawman, he was in the news because he had accidentally shot himself in the groin and was recovering.) As an aside, Louis L’Amore, whom I met in 1976 when he bought me breakfast, wrote in “Education of a Wandering Man” that he met Milton when the former gunfighter bought him breakfast.