The Keating Saloon Duel
The Town of Florence was founded in 1866 and is the sixth-oldest non-Native American settlement in the state of Arizona. It’s a small town of approximately 25,000 people. According to The Territorial News........
In 1888 the most famous gunfight in the history of Florence took place between Sheriff Pete Gabriel and his longtime deputy, Joe Phy.
Florence was the county seat and Pete Gabriel was the sheriff. He was a handsome man with his twisted mustache and goatee, free-handed with his money, and widely liked. He was also deadly quick and accurate with his single-action revolver. Among the gunfighters of Arizona none were better tan he, and Joe Phy was his deputy. Joe was a big man and rugged of frame.
Gabriel and Phy rode together time and time again on dangerous hunts. They shared blankets, dry camps and hardships while fighting side by side!
Then politics brought a rift in their friendship and the day came when the deputy ran for office against his former boss. It was an extremely bitter campaign with accusations and lies from both sides. Election day came and Gabriel was re-elected. Phy, sure that the election was rigged, came to hate his old friend until he couldn’t stand it anymore.
One night Gabriel was in Keating’s Saloon. Phy pushed the door open and yelled, “Pete, I’m going home after my six-shooter and I’m coming back to fight it out with you. Get ready while I’m gone.”
According to accounts Gabriel answered quietly, “All right, Joe. I’ll be here when you come back.” Gabriel ordered a whiskey and, his back to the door, downed his drink.
The saloon doors flew open and Phy stood there gun in hand. Shots were fired. Each man stepped toward the other and more shots rang out. A bloody Joe Phy was on his knees and Pete Gabriel, also covered in blood, barely stood. “I can’t get up,” Joe coughed. “Get down here and we’ll finish it with knives.”
“I guess we’ve both of us got enough,” the sheriff muttered and staggered out through the door to lie all night in a near-by corral. Joe Phy died on that saloon floor and Pete Gabriel lived for two more years with a bullet through his kidneys.
As my last story took place in the Arizona Territory, and my current work in progress is located in Arizona (shhhhh, it’s a contemporary), I like to do posts that happen in this state. Arizona has lots of history and it’s fun doing the research. I hope you enjoyed this little tidbit about the town of Florence!
Chase’s Story – Book 10 of Grandma’s Wedding Quilts
A little teaser….
“Well what are you doing back here, old man? You have your very own ranch. That’s my dream!”
“You better hobble them lips boy!” Another fit of coughing took July’s words. When he was done, he squinted at Chase. “You ever been to the Arizona Territory?” Chase shook his head. “In the summer it’s hotter than blue blazes. Damn near sweated the life right out of me the one and only time I was there in them months. That’s why I come back here every spring. Guess the cool and cold suit me better.”
“What’s happening with your brother’s place?”
“Foreman’s name is Ed Durbin. He’s watching it. Good man who’s been there a few years. Guess I need to find me some fool idiot that wants to live in Hell and sell it.”
Chase sat up quickly. “I might be that idiot, July. I’ve dang near put away every cent I’ve been paid while working here. What are you looking to get for it?”
July laid against his saddle and blew smoke rings in the air. He was the most easy-going man Chase had ever met. “I still got Ma and Pa’s place here in Missouri. Small cabin atwix a few trees. I go check on it every once in a while to make sure there ain’t no squatters.” July drew out a tin flask from his jacket and took a hardy swig. “Truth is, I got the long face from the doc not too long ago. Told me to give up my drinking and cigars.” Hard coughing took hold of him. “I’m dying anyway, why give up the only two things I like?”
“July, I’m sorry. You should be resting, not out here in the cold night air.”
“That’s a fact.” The old man looked at the stars. “When we get back, you and me’ll sit down and do some figuring. The only money I’ll be needed is enough to keep me in my two favorite things for a few more months. I’ll make my mark on the papers my bother give me and you’ll be a ranch owner your own self.”
Chase stared at the old cuss of a man. He didn’t know what to say.
“Shall we shake on it?” July asked, leaning on his elbow, holding out his hand.