(May 3, 1850 - July 13, 1882)
After reading Dave Johnson's book John Ringo, the once mysterious character takes on a human form. Although John was accurate with a gun, he does not fit into the category of a true gunfighter.
Born in Indiana, John traveled west to California with his family. During the trip, his father accidently blew his brains out.
Eventually, John migrated to Texas and got caught up in the Mason County war. Involved in several scrapes, his reputation began to grow.
In the Tombstone, AZ area, John worked as a cowboy where he sided with the Clantons during their feud with the Earps. His mystique from the Mason County war drove his work in this region.
His bizarre death is always a controversial item with most authors concluding that he committed suicide. There are, however, many unusual things at the scene: his boots had been removed, his gunbelt was upside down, part of his scalp looked as if it had been removed by a knife and there was a cartridge stuck to his watch. How does a cartridge get removed from a revolver after someone has shot themself? It is these and other items that lead me to believe that John Ringo was killed.
John Ringo is buried in an isolated grave in South Eastern Arizona.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence
Books About Johnny Ringo
John Ringo: The Gunfighter Who Never Was by Jack Burrows
This book is well organized and dispels many of the legends associated with Johnny Ringo. Burrows firmly believes Ringo committed suicide and was an alcoholic for most of his life. Burrows relied on one Ringo family member who may have been a story teller. Still it's worth having this book.
John Ringo by David Johnson
This recently published book sheds good light on the real John Ringo. Provides a lot of documented sources, but the author does draw some of his own conclusions which are speculative. I suppose after doing in-depth research that you tend to get a gut feeling where certain unexplainable pieces are missing, but I don't know that I agree with all the items. Still, it is a wonderful book and is worth a read.