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Vol. 4 - No.08 August, 2022 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Fairbank Train Robbery Fiasco
3-Fingered Jack Shot
The railroad arrived in what was to become Fairbank in 1881. It was the closest rail station to the bustling boom town of Tombstone; this was one of the largest cities in the West at that time. The train station was the scene of a sensational attempted train robbery on February 15th, 1900, purportedly by five outlaws led by Three-Finger Jack Dunlap and Bravo Juan Yoas, all thought to be members of the Burt Alvord gang. The heist was thwarted by famous ex-Texas Ranger Jeff Milton, who was riding that day as messenger for Wells Fargo.
Posing as drunken cowboys the bandits opened fire on Milton as he stood in the open door of the mail car as it pulled into the station. Seriously wounded, Milton fell back inside the car behind a trunk. His gunfighter instincts took over and he grabbed a Wells Fargo shotgun.
Thinking mistakenly that Milton was dead, the bandits raced towards the open door. Three-Finger Jack was in the lead, and he caught a full shotgun blast in his mid-section. Bravo Juan saw it coming and just had enough time to turn around. He took a blast from some distance in the seat of his pants.
The outlaws went away that evening empty-handed. Three-Finger Jack was mortally wounded and only a few miles from Fairbank his pals reportedly left him to die along the trail. Back at Fairbank a posse was organized, and trackers easily picked up the trail leading to where Jack lay dying. He was understandably more than a bit upset at being left behind to die and was only too willing to give the posse enough information to arrest all the gang members including gang leader Burt Alvord.
3 Fingered Jack Dunlop was laid to rest at Boothill Graveyard, here in Tombstone, Arizona. At 62, Jeff Milton becomes the first officer appointed to the U.S. Immigration Service Border Patrol in 1924, and for the next 8 years he pursues border patrol work with unbridled enthusiasm.
The Economy Act of 1932 forces the still active Milton into retirement at age 70. The Sector Chief at El Paso wrote in praise of him: You have come to be regarded "as an institution rather than an individual. No other immigration officer has your value in cultivating for the Service the good will and friendship we must have for effective enforcement of the law."
Written by "Discover Tombstone" on the "Old West Remembered" Facebook Group
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