the help of James Petersen, another history buff and amateur historical
sleuth, we pondered Arthur M. King who claimed to have worked
as Wyatt's deputy during the early 1900's. We wanted to see if
Arthur King was actually Wyatt Earp's last deputy and, thus, a
There were two articles about
King published in True West Magazine. The first article appeared
in the May-June 1958 edition, and the second in the July-August
1959 edition. The famous western painter and storyteller Lea McCarthy
had written them as told by A.M. King. I wondered now if these
stories were truth.
The L.A.P.D was our first place
to look, the Internet followed, and then calls were placed to
various police and sheriff's department as well as to the U.S.
Marshall Service. Newspaper archives and public and private libraries
were contacted. One by one clues were located. Our results follow:
A.M. King: Arthur Moore (A.M.)
King was born in Willington, Clinton County, Ohio June 30, 1884
and last appeared in Ohio in the 1900 census. He had an older
brother, Wilber A. and a younger brother, Russell M. His middle
name, Moore is his mother's maiden name.
King left his home in Oklahoma
late in 1899 or early 1900 at the age of fifteen. Years later
in a newspaper article King said that they (he and his brothers)
were in Oklahoma Territory first, during the last Comanche round
up, later they settle in Colton, California.
As the story goes, they (LAPD members
and King) loaded up in a horse-carted wagon and went out to the
Bimini Baths located outside and west of the city limits of Los
Angeles. This is where King had to show his ability to handle
and shoot a revolver. Its location was Third Street and Bimini
Avenue then 6 miles outside of the city limits. The Baths are
long gone but the small street Bimini Avenue is still there.
King demonstrated his gun handling
and shooting abilities well. At this event, prior to December
31, 1902, King was asked to join the police department. Impressed
with King's shooting, his likable attitude, and his ability to
handle himself well, he was hired as a patrolman even though he
was underage. His training was on the job. His area of patrol
was a route that covers historical plaza, old china town and down
near 1st and Spring Street.
We located a newspaper article
that speaks of A.M. King as a patrolman; we found a photograph,
with King in full police uniform it is dated August 21, 1907.
His badge number was 209. The article and photograph provides
proof he was a Los Angeles City Police Man. One had to be a member
of the LAPD at least 5 years prior to moving up the ranks to detective.
The article lends itself to support that King was of higher rank
Looking into the City Directories,
we are confident that King remained on the force until April 1909.
City Hall scandals of Mayor Harper in 1909 cost A.M. his job.
He said that part of his duties were to collect money from various
bars and whore houses then deliver the money to city hall. Harper
resigned, the next day the Chief of Police resigned and within
a few months others were gone. Arthur Moore King began to work
as an 'independent' policeman.
It was at this time that
the police department decided that they needed some outside help.
Wyatt Earp lived in Los Angeles off and on, mostly during the
summer months - his mining claim, in the desert, near Needles,
California was extremely hot during the summer. Wyatt was asked
to work "outside the law" to go places and do things that the
police force could not do such as chasing criminals who had escaped
to Mexico. Both Wyatt and Arthur each received $10.00 per day
plus expenses. Arthur was brought in to assist him at the same
rate. The friendship was on. Their task was to chase down criminals
who had escaped into old Mexico avoiding prosecution. Their first
man to track down was a drug dealer and rapist named Pearson.
Our heroes had to avoid the Mexican police and army, track down
their man and sneak him across the border back in the United States
- they did this. When they reached the border, Wyatt stepped across
into USA territory. King untied Pearson then pushed him across
the border where the waiting Wyatt, with gun drawn, formally arrested
Pearson serving him with an arrest warrant.
The duo continued to accept assignments
always managing to get their man, regardless of how they did it.
The police department did not ask questions, they were pleased
with the results.
One day, a former Los Angeles Police
Commissioner, H.L. Lewis, asked Wyatt to head up a special posse;
Wyatt was recommended by his old pal George Parsons for the job.
Wyatt's job as head of this posse was to protect the surveyors
of the American Trona Company from being shot at by claim jumpers
representing the California Trona Company. A.M. was on hand to
protect Wyatt's back.
This job lead to Wyatt Earp's last
armed confrontation, he was 64 years old. The California Trona
Company was under receivership. The Federal Receiver was Stafford
W. Austin. Henry Lee was their attorney. Knowing the law, Henry
Lee attempted to stake claims in the Borax region near Searless
Dry Lake located just outside of Death Valley. One had to work
and show improvement on your claims or ownership defaults, someone
else could file and take over the land. Lee felt that he could
do this realizing that Austin would resist; at stake were millions
of dollars in minerals.
The following is from the diaries
of Stafford W. Austin, Receiver of the California Trona Company
adversaries to Wyatt's group.
Thursday, October 20, 1910
A party of jumpers came in last night in five automobiles and
camped at Salte Range on the East side of the lake. This morning
they began to run a line of survey, westward from the patented
claim in Sec. 12 - 25-43
I ordered them out as trespassers...
Tuesday, October 25, 1910
Marshall arrived at Jumpers camp last night and caught 28 of
the men and served them with summons to appear before the U.S.
Circuit Court for contempt. A man called Sprat, whom I afterward
found to be Wyatt Earp of Arizona fame, made an assault on one
of my men...
Wednesday, October 26, 1910
Names of jumpers as given to the Marshall: H. E. Lee, G. E.
North, J. E. Dorsey, P. W. Snyder, B. S. Farrar, Oliver Hoefer,
Harvey Glenn, C. C., Payne, A. M. King, M. Varney, E. A. Rasor,
E. L. Bergeroa, W. R. Habdy, G. R. McCarne, H. B. Dee, Carl Homan,
E. W. Corsey, Wolff W. Goreia, J. A. Walden, R. A. DeLair, James
Hickman, Ed. F. Basse, R. Clark, W. R. Simpson, W. E. Stapp (alias
Wyatt Earp), A. J. Capt and W. Crayton". ...
Besides the diary of S.W.Austin
to substantiate Kings claim, we found the actual US Deputy Marshal
who served and arrested Wyatt and King - Jackson F. Durlin. Wyatt
Earp's last armed confrontation was bloodless. A.M. King said
in his article "...that it was the nerviest thing he had ever
seen." With guns pulled, Wyatt came out of his tent with a Winchester
Rife, firing a round at Stafford's feet. "Back off or I'll blow
you apart he ordered, or my name is not Wyatt Earp". Hearing his
name, Stafford and his men backed off. The Marshals were sent
for; Wyatt and Arthur were arrested but quickly released when
Deputy Durlin realized that this was the famed Frontier Marshal.
King's wife, Fay wanted her husband
to settle down to a less dangerous job so by 1912 he had decided
to leave law enforcement and enter into the auto business. Second
Hand Autos, a business located at 1157 S. Olive and later at 1212
S. Main Street, was opened. The King Brothers were partners. King
and Earp drifted apart.
The city directories no longer
list King after 1920; we found evidences that A.M. traveled to
Northern California with his a second wife Bessie. He worked for
the city of Crescent City as a laborer in street construction
prior to purchasing his cattle ranch. Selling the ranch, A.M.
and his wife retired to Santa Rosa, California in 1957.
On March 6, 1961, in San Francisco,
Arthur M. King passed away at 77 years of age; the cause of death:
Cardiovascular Collapse. His body was cremated at the Santa Rosa
The question goes back to whether
or not Arthur M. King was Wyatt's Last Deputy. We explored this
question in detail. Unfortunately the LAPD and the Los Angeles
Sheriff Department threw out their old records many years ago
so the actual deeds, as reported by Lea McCarthy's articles, cannot
be authenticated with official records. But we know for a fact
that King was a policeman who admits to losing his job for corruption.
The time line fits. King had risen
above the rank of patrolman to Detective and would have known
Captain of Detectives Paul Flammer. It was Captain Flammer who
called upon King to assist Wyatt Earp. Many newspapers substantiated
their relationship, as did the Examiner article of the May 20,
1911. The articles report Wyatt Earp and A.M. King with the provisional
Mayor of Mexicali Bob Davis acting much like teenagers carousing
Spring Street. The article states that the men were in high sprits
drinking and celebrating the end of the Mexican Insurrections
and the battle of Tia Juana. We found the diaries of S.W. Austin,
then the Federal Receiver for the Trona Company and a bundle of
newspaper articles that name both A.M. King and Wyatt Earp as
part of the armed bodyguards for the California Borax Company.
We uncovered the Marshal who arrested
these two and verified for a third time the working relationship
of King and Earp. All of the buildings, hotels, and businesses
mentioned in the King articles have been located researched and
Going back to the original question
was A.M. King Wyatt's Earps last Deputy? We have found enough
information to give a confident answer - yes; Arthur Moore King
was indeed Wyatt's last deputy and thus an historic figure.