John Henry Tunstall

John Henry Tunstall

London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death 18 Feb 1878 (aged 24)
Lincoln, Lincoln County, New Mexico, USA
Burial Lincoln, Lincoln County, New Mexico, USA
Memorial ID 26973877 · View Source
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John Henry Tunstall was born 6 March 1853 in England. He arrived in Lincoln, New Mexico in 1876. There was one mercantile and banking outfit in the entire canyon, Murphy and Dolan, and Tunstall felt that they were taking advantage of the townsfolk, and the surrounding ranchers. They had secured the government contract to sell beef to the Mescalero Apache Indians, and to the soldiers at the nearby Fort. This meant that they were able to charge top dollar for the cattle they bought from the locals at bottom dollar. They were also overcharging for merchandise in their store, but with no competition, the locals had no choice but to deal with this outfit. So, Tunstall and his friend, Alex McSween, backed by cattleman, John Chisum, decided to open their own mercantile just up the road from Murphy and Dolan. The gentlemen at Murphy and Dolan didn't take too kindly to this competition, and tried every legal ploy at their disposal to stop Tunstall and McSween. When that didn't work, they began hiring gunfighters to work for them. They tried several times to goad Tunstall into a gunfight, all to no avail. Tunstall decided that it was time to hire a few local, tough cowboys to protect him while he tried to settle the dispute. One of the young men he hired later became known as Billy the Kid. However, Willie Morton, Tom Hill and Jessie Evans gunned Tunstall down on February 18, 1882. Since these men were employees of James Dolan, it is of course assumed that this was done on the order of Mr. Dolan. This murder was the spark that began the firestorm that became known in the national news as the Lincoln County Wars. Tunstall and his friend McSween are buried side by side right behind the post office in Lincoln.

Gravesite Details It is documented that John Tunstall is buried behind the store. two crosses still remain.


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  • Created by: Cheryl Parrish Shaw
  • Added: 21 May 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 26973877
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Henry Tunstall (6 Mar 1853–18 Feb 1878), Find a Grave Memorial no. 26973877, citing Tunstall-McSween Gravesite, Lincoln, Lincoln County, New Mexico, USA ; Maintained by Cheryl Parrish Shaw (contributor 46797072) .