In April of 1888 a "Bloody Tragedy" took place in Tombstone, the story of which was buried on page three of the April 14th issue of the Tombstone Epitaph. The story nestled in and among topics such as a new railroad to Bisbee, a Tombstoner now living in China and an article about Dr. Goodfellow's involvement with the data from the May 1887 earthquake that struck in northern Mexico. The names of those involved with the "Bloody Tragedy" were perhaps unknown to all but close acquaintances at the time. But today legends have been told about that bloody day in Tombstone, people speak of mysterious after-dark presences supposedly sighted on the very corner the tragedy took place and even television programs re-enacting the heartbreaking day have been seen over and over again on cable TV.
So, what happened on that April afternoon?
The following is from the Tombstone Epitaph of April 14, 1888
A Bloody Tragedy
George Daves Shoots Pietra Edmunds and Commits Suicide
Our usually quiet city was thrown into the most intense excitement yesterday by a tragedy such as never before occurred here. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, passers-by on Third street, near Safford, observed a young man, George Daves by name, running after a young woman named Pietra Edmunds, and firing at her with a six-shooter. He fired three shots, one of which took effect in the woman's shoulder, after which he placed the pistol to his temple, pulled the trigger and the ball went through his brain, causing death in a few minutes.
The cause of the tragedy was jealousy. Young Daves had been paying attention to Miss Edmunds, but the day before yesterday, it is stated that they quarreled, and this so preyed upon the young man's mind that his reason, never very strong, become dethroned. He had recently come from Casa Grande, near which place he is said to have some valuable mining claims, and found on his return that he had been replaced in affections of the young lady.
At the time of the shooting Miss Edmunds was passing by the residence of the young man's father, corner of Third and Safford, in company of Fred Stone, when young Daves ran out of the house, revolver in hand, and pointed it at Stone. The young woman screamed and ran across the street toward her own home. This diverted Daves attention from Stone, who ran up town after an officer. In the meantime Daves pursued his former sweetheart to her very door, firing as they ran. Only one bullet took serious effect. It entered the back of the young lady near the shoulder blade, passed through the right lung and out of the breast. At 9 o'clock this morning (Saturday) she was resting easily, and there are strong hopes of her recovery.
George Daves was 21 years old, and was always considered a quiet, honest, industrious boy. His parents are highly respectable people and have the most sincere sympathy of the people of this community. The bereaved mother is now in California. The fond father takes the loss of his oldest son very hard.
The young woman who was the cause of all the trouble (perhaps innocently) is about 17 years old, and is the daughter of the late Eugene Edmunds (known as "Stockton"), her mother being a Mexican and also dead. She is quite pretty, and is worth some property.
An inquest will be held on the body of Daves' at 2 o'clock this afternoon at Ritter's undertaking rooms, and the funeral will take place at 2 o'clock to-morrow (Sunday) from the same place.
Tombstone in 1888 faced its share of dramas. Proper courtships and the eventual marriages, delightful births and the sad news of deaths, and even the usual political bantering and happenings would have been read about in the local papers of the time. Town scuttlebutt was always on the lips of those who read the "truths" in the local papers. Words put in print, never to be taken back and reputations slandered never to be rebuilt. Oh, how the words from the local press, then as today, can completely change and distort the life then written about. Stories printed upon newsprint, the ink not yet even dry, and the entire town would have known of incidents such as above, yet follow up stories seldom occurred. The unfinished stories have been repeated through the ages as truths and somehow always leaving a question. Was there more to this story? What happened to Cleopatra Edmunds after recovering from her near fatal wounds?
Maria Carmel "Petra" Cleopatra Edmunds was born May 17, 187l the first child of Eugene Esmo and Marie Antoinette Espinosa Cruz. There had been eight children all together from this union and six of them lived to adulthood. All six being girls. Their beauty and grace would soon earn them the well-known title of "Belles of the Arizona Territory".
Petra's father was more commonly known as "Stockton" Edmunds. This moniker gained from working well with the Indians and seeing to it that many a wagon between Fort Stockton Texas and Tombstone on to Tucson arrived safely. He was of Scottish decent and born in Prairie Ronde Michigan in 1834. He married his love in 1870 and within a few years he had converted to her religion of Catholicism and had their marriage blessed in St. John's Cathedral in Tucson in 1877.
Stockton Edmunds had purchased land in Cochise County, Arizona Territory about eight miles outside of Tombstone. On this Stockton Ranch he built a two-story adobe dwelling that he and his family called home. Freighting was his job and this often took him away from home for months at a time. But the love between this couple and their children was ever so strong and often times Mrs. Edmunds and their children would go along with her husband on these three-month journeys, having incredible adventures all along the way. After her husband's untimely death from an illness on March 21, 1886, Antonia "grieved herself to death in a short time", dying September 6, 1887. Stockton and Antonia's six daughters soon found themselves orphans and they were given over to the guardianship of a local couple. Petra was just 16 years old. Imagine her life and the world surrounding her and her sisters completely turned upside down. Grief would certainly have played a big part in this young woman's heart, perhaps even as she courted the young George Daves before his departure from Tombstone in search of matrimonial funds. Petra's young soul would have been in need of love. Her world must have been rocked yet once more when her life was nearly taken by the man she once felt love for and now is dead by his own hand.
Petra did not move from Tombstone and she would forever be spoken of as the woman involved with George Daves' suicide. But her life did go on, for the most part, quite happily too. A miner named Louis Lombardi took Petra as his wife on November 1, 1890 and the newlyweds took on the rearing of the five younger sisters. Louis and Petra's only son, Walter, was born in June of 1893. Sadly though, Louis died in a mining accident in 1913. They were married just over 23 years.
Walter died in 1954 having led quite an interesting life here in Tombstone. He even claimed fame to owning the Crystal Palace Saloon, won in a poker game in 1929. He was also involved with the unsuccessful tourist hotel venture that was once slated for the old Tombstone Courthouse. His interest in this hotel along with the Crystal Palace Saloon, however, was thwarted due to his ill health and eventual death.
Petra lived out the rest of her life in the home on 2nd and Safford, alone after her son's death. She lived another 6 years here in Tombstone and died July 24, 1960, forty-seven years after the passing of her husband. Petra and her son Walter Lombardi are buried at the Tombstone City Cemetery. It would stand to reason that perhaps her husband Louis would also be buried at their hometown cemetery, however, the records of the city's cemetery have never been kept up and there is neither a headstone nor a reference to this gentleman's final resting place. Her beloved parents though, Eugene and Antonia, are buried side by side not far from their oldest daughter, Cleopatra Edmunds Lombardi.
The house still stands on the corner of 2nd and Safford Streets and sometimes perhaps, while walking in the area around twenty minutes past two in the afternoon, you can hear the distant echo of those infamous shots ring out. The cry for help and the scuffle of hurried feet to the scene will have your head turning and wondering what just occurred. And the spirit of Petra may be there … unable to leave. Captured forever in the annals of Tombstone history, as the one whose unrequited loved was the reason behind the death of the young miner, George Daves.
Thanks to Janie Martinez for her help in supplying information so the rest of Petra's story can be told. Her generosity with this information along with the pictures she shared can now help tell the Edmunds family story. And the young woman whose life was affected by the circumstances and the Tombstone press can now be remembered as Petra Edmunds Lombardi, daughter, wife, mother, and sister.
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