About 1883

(From an interview with Gustav Becker on September 1939 by Alvin Becker, his son)

     The Clantons, Ike and Finn and their gang, had their hideout headquarters east of town about fifteen miles. They were regular attendants at Charlie Kinnear's saloon when in town and they liked his bartender, Bill-? (last name seems to have vanished) who was inclined to go on big drunks occasionally.  He had been on one of these for some time when Ike Clanton offered to take him out with him and sober him up.  In about a week Ike came to town and told Charlie,"We tried to sober him up, but he had had too much and finally died."  "It's cool out there so they'll bring him in tomorrow; I thought we'd better let you know so you could get ready to bury him."  

     So Charlie got busy and had a carpenter work all of the rest of that day and most of the night making a coffin which was taken to the saloon and placed on a couple of saw horses surrounded with juniper and ceder boughs.  The saloon was carefully decorated in mourning with bows made of black calico cloth, placed above the door and the bar.  The next morning the Clantons saddled Bill's horse and told him; "You're sober now and Kinnear is getting mad at you for staying out here so long, so you had better go to town; we'll go with you."

     They rode to town and made Bill go in the saloon first.  Bill walked in, saw the crepe and the coffin and noticed Charlie staring at him with open mouth and asked; "Why Charlie who's dead?"  Whereupon Charlie let out an oath and exploded; "You are, you son of a bitch."

     Just then the Clantons and their gang walked in and began to rib Charlie who ruefully thought of the expense and trouble he had gone to in having the coffin made, the saloon decorated and the grave dug.  While the ribbing went on they all had many a drink and soon most of them agreed that it would be a shame to have such a "purty" coffin and the grave go to waste after Kinnear had gone to all the trouble, and so they wondered who they could bury.  

     They decided that an old drunk lying on the floor in the corner in a drunken sleep would make a good substitute so they loaded him into the coffin, closed the lid and started up towards main street lurching and singing, all set to have a rip-roaring funeral.  One or two others who had been in the saloon but hadn't been drinking quite as much tried to talk them out of the notion, but no luck, so they ran over to Main street and west a block and began shooting.  

     The pall bearers sensing a fight, dropped the coffin, the lid jolting open and they ran up to main street but found no one, so returned to the coffin to find the proposed corpse sitting up looking at his strange situation and trying to figure it all out. They tried to get him to lie down so that they could close the lid so they could bury him, but he protested that he didn't want to be buried.  So they finally tipped the coffin over in disgust and left him while they went back to the Charlie Kinnear's saloon (a block and a half south on Eagar road) for some more drinks.

     The drunk and the coffin lay there for several hours while wagons and people on horseback rode by, going around it as it was in the middle of the road.

Kinnear's advertisement in the St. Johns Herald on August 6, 1885.
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