The policy had been left as security for a loan of nine hundred dollars advanced by a firm known as Spiegelberg Brothers. Few ingredients were now lacking for a typical melodrama. Meantime the plot thickened by the failure of the insurance company! McSween, in the interest of Mrs. Scholland, now went East to see what could be done in the collection of the insurance policy.
The latter, knowing of these turbulent times in Lincoln, decided not to hold court. He sent word to Sheriff William Brady to open court and then at once to adjourn it. This was on April 1, 1878. Sheriff Brady, in walking down the street toward the dwelling-house in which court sessions were then held, was obliged to pass the McSween store and residence.
Friend of Kit Carson; the man who carried the news of the big street fight to Ft. With the McSween party, there was one game Mexican, Ighenio Salazar, who is alive to-day, by miracle. In the rush from the house, Salazar was shot down, being struck by two bullets. He feigned death. Old Andy Boyle stood over him with his gun cocked. "I guess he's dead," said Andy.
Colonel Fritz also died owing McSween thirty-three hundred dollars, fees due on legal work. Yet Murphy demanded the full amount of the insurance policy from McSween again and again. Murphy, Riley & Dolan now sued out an attachment on McSween's property, and levied on the goods in the Tunstall-McSween store.
For three days the two little armies lay here, separated by the distance of the street, perhaps sixty men in all on the McSween side, perhaps thirty or forty in all on the Murphy-Peppin side, of whom nineteen were Americans.
Thirteen men, later of the Kid's gang, led by Dick Brewer, attacked Roberts, who killed Dick Brewer before he himself died. The death of the latter left the Kid chief of the McSween forces. A great blood lust now possessed all the population. It wanted no law. There is no doubt about the intention to make away with Judge Warren Bristol of the circuit court.
In this McSween posse were "Doc" Skurlock, Charlie Bowdre, Billy the Kid, Hendry Brown, Jim French, John Middleton, with McNab, Wait and Smith, besides McClosky, who seems not to have been loyal enough to them to sanction cold blooded murder. These victims were killed March 7th, 1878. There had now been deliberate murder committed upon the one side and upon the other.
The men of both parties were now scouting about for each other here and there over a district more than a hundred miles square; but presently the war was to take on the dignity of a pitched battle. Early in July, 1878, the Kid and his gang rounded up at the McSween house. There were a dozen white desperadoes in their party. There were about forty Mexicans also identified with the McSween faction.
Andy Boyle, one of the rough and ruthless sort of warriors, was an ex-British soldier, a drunkard, and a good deal of a ruffian. He drank himself to death after a decidedly mixed record. John McKinney had a certain fame from the fact that in the fight at the McSween house the Kid shot off half his mustache for him at close range, when the latter broke out of cover and ran.
He had by this time killed several men, certainly at least two white men; and how many Mexicans and Indians he had killed by fair means or foul will never be really known. His reputation as a gun fighter was well established. Dick Brewer, Tunstall's foreman, was now sworn in as a "special deputy" by McSween, and a war of reprisal was now on.