Las Vegas, [NM]: Daily Gazette, 1881. Newspaper. 54 cm. 4 pp. Spine edge frayed, but very good. An extremely rare newspaper, which ran from 1880-87, but only a handful of issues are known--with splendid early notices (within a week) of rewards raised for Pat Garrett, for his shooting of Billy the Kid (the Kid died on July 14). One brief notice reports that $500.00 was raised in Santa Fe; a longer story concerns efforts to raise a reward for Garrett in Roswell, Santa Fe and Las Vegas, devoting four column inches to express satisfaction with Garrett's deed, and the virtue of the reward. Other news includes a shooting competition at Wimbledon won by the American team, Thomas Edison's push to wire 500 houses in New York City, and optimism that Pres. Garfield will recover. Ads for local businesses include one by a woman physician: "Mrs. Robbins Summerfield MD," and there is a notice from Arizona on a nasty disease endemic to hot climates called black vomit, which is a variety of yellow fever, nearly always fatal.
Possibly of more long term importance for the history of Las Vegas, three full columns are devoted to the story of Jay Gould's efforts to put "an Important Link in His Railway System Benefitting Himself and Las Vegas," a plan developed in 1881. Located on the edge of the eastern plains of New Mexico, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is Las Vegas, New Mexico. Though not as well known as other Wild West towns, such as Dodge City, Deadwood, or Tombstone; Las Vegas, is said to have been the worst of the worst of the Old West Towns. "Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes, and outlaws than did Las Vegas" -- Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Historian. Las Vegas was established by a Spanish land grant in 1835. In 1846, after the United States declared war on Mexico, General Stephen W. Kearney led his Army of the West to Las Vegas to declare New Mexico a U.S. possession. When he arrived, he found a thriving community of 1,500 Spanish settlers. Training several very large cannons directly on the Plaza, the men of Las Vegas quickly surrendered.
When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad reached the settlement in 1879, Las Vegas was the biggest city between San Francisco and Independence, Missouri, having modern utilities such as waterworks and a telephone company. At that time, the town became so large that it rivaled Denver, Tucson and El Paso in size. The six trains that stopped there daily opened up yet another era of prosperity, bringing with it both legitimate businesses, but also introducing even more new elements into the town's already distrustful environment. Before long, outlaws, bunko artists, murderers and thieves were becoming so common that the eastern part of the settlement had become utterly lawless. Soon, the rail terminus policed the new arrivals with a group of "peace officers" called the "Dodge City Gang." However, these members were almost as lawless as the rest, including such members as J.J. Webb, who was the current marshal; "Mysterious Dave Mather," Joe Carson, "Dirty Dave" Rudebaugh; and "Hoodoo Brown," the Justice of the Peace. It was during these notorious days of Las Vegas' history that the town was called home or visited by the likes of Doc Holliday, Big-Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Bob Ford, Wyatt Earp, Rattlesnake Sam, Cock-Eyed Frank, Web-Fingered Billy, Hook Nose Jim, Stuttering Tom, Durango Kid, Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler, Vicente Silva and his gang, and Belle Sidons (alias Monte Verde).
It was in the summer of 1879 that Doc Holliday rode into Las Vegas, where he hung out his shingle for the last time. However, this idea was short lived, and only a few weeks later he bought a saloon on Center Street. His partner and financial backer, John Joshua Webb, once a Dodge City lawman, was by then a part of the notorious Dodge City Gang. On July 19, 1879 Doc got into an argument with a local gunman, named Mike Gordon, who was rather popular with the locals. The two took the argument to the street where Doc politely invited Gordon to start shooting whenever he felt like it. Gordon obviously accepted this invitation and wound up dead, laying in the dusty street with three shots in his belly. After a lynch mob formed with plans to lynch Holliday, Doc headed back to Dodge City. However, he arrived only to find that Wyatt Earp had gone to a new silver strike, in a place called Tombstone, Arizona.
"They are as tough a bunch of bad men as ever gathered outside a penal institution." --Miguel Otero, Territorial Governor, speaking about the men of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Item #64330