Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Myths Related to Johnny Ringo

In my blog yesterday, I briefly mentioned the tragedy of Martin Ringo and of Mary Peters Ringo's journal. Today, I add more to the story.
Martin and Mary Ringo left Missouri in 1864 with their five children with the intent of moving to San Jose, California. Mary's sister and brother-in-law, Colonel Coleman and Augusta Peters Younger had resided there for quite some time. Colonel Younger is considered a Santa Clara County pioneer. Mary continued onto to California after the tragic death of her husband. Their eldest son, John Peters Ringo was only 14 years old when he witnessed the death of his father. John has become known as the infamous Johnny Ringo who was killed or committed suicide near Tombstone, Arizona. Looking at the stories associated with Johnny Ringo, I found that there is much speculation about his life and death. I also know that in looking at many of the accounts of his life that much of it is flawed. I would like to put a few things straight. Colonel Younger was not part of the Younger gang. He was just a relative, a man who was well regarded by his contemporaries in San Jose. He was not Johnny Ringo's grandfather as was claimed in some accounts. Some seemed to have confused him with his relative Thomas Coleman Younger. Johnny Ringo spent most of his teenage and young adult years in California. He was still living in San Jose in 1870. Some time after 1870 he left San Jose and appears to have been involved in the range wars in Texas. Some accounts of his life believe that the because he has a distant relationship with the James and Dalton families and the fact that his uncle by marriage is an uncle to the Younger brothers, that he was destined to become an outlaw. As far as I can tell there is no connection. If you are interested in a photo of Martin Ringo's grave, you should visit the Oregon-California Trails Association or the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.
A word of caution, both sites include some incorrect information. The Oregon-California Trail site starts out stating that Martin and Mary Ringo left Missouri headed for San Jose, California. However in the paragraph under the title, "Additional Information," implies that the family had intended to go to Oregon but when Martin accidentally shot himself to death, Mary decided to go to California. It also claims that a few years after arriving in San Jose that Mary and her family moved to Oregon where she is buried. Mary Ringo was living in San Jose in 1870 a few years before she died. Her daughters, who married, are also found in the various census from 1870 on still living in the San Jose. The Wyoming State Preservation Office site states that Mary's brother-in-law was a member of the James Gang and Quantrill's Raiders. Simply not true! It is really disappointing when organizations that claim to be preserving history don't get the facts right.

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