Ike Clanton – Biography, Childhood and Life of Crime, How Did He Die?

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Ike Clanton was a member of the notorious group who referred to themselves as “The Cowboys “. He was an archetypal figure of the American old wild west. The Cowboys were led by Ike’s father sometimes called “Old man Clanton”. The group was notorious for terrorizing citizens, violence, unlawful killings, indiscriminate use of guns and cattle rustling. They harboured a long-standing rivalry with the Earp brothers.

Ike Clanton Biography

Ike Clanton, whose real name is Joseph Isaac Clanton lived from 1847 to June 1st, 1887. He was born in Missouri (Callaway County) to and Mariah Sexton Clanton. He had 3 brothers and 2 sisters. His father worked different jobs before becoming a rancher. He worked as a farmer, gold miner and then a cattleman at the Arizona territory. Ike Clanton moved with his family to Tombstone, Arizona territory in the late 1870s. He ran a “lunch counter” at the towns mill site for a while and also helped his brothers in the caretaking of their father.

In the year 1881, he proceeded to work on his father’s ranch which became a family business. The Clantons (father and brothers), their ranch hands and their associates came to be referred to as “The Cowboys “. His mother died in 1866 and his father died in 1881.

Childhood And Life Of Crime

Ike Clanton grew up to a life of violence, especially following the footsteps of his father and brothers. Their ranch (Cienega Amarillo) was located near Escudilla mountain, east of Springerville. He was popular among the locals because he carried himself like a successful businessman who had money to throw around – although he was quick-tempered, drank heavily and very loud-mouthed. It was rumoured in Tombstone that the Clantons boasted about the success of their ranch which was mainly because they didn’t have to buy their cows like other ranchers.

This further reaffirmed their cattle rustling activities. On October 26th, 1881, there was a showdown between the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday and the Clantons which Ike instigated. His brother Billy and Frank Mclaury upon hearing about the fight rushed to town to support Ike. Like a coward, he ran off when the shooting started, claiming that he was unarmed. Sadly, his 19-year-old brother Billy died during the shoot out.

Ironically, Ike’s inconsistency in testifying also exonerated the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday from the murder charges levelled against them for Billy’s death. This made Clanton very angry and he made different attempts to personally avenge his brother’s death.


How Did He Die?

Ike, along with his brother Phineas, had been charged with cattle rustling by the state, and detective Jonas Brighton sought to bring them to justice. On June 1, 1887, on a ranch in Springfield, Arizona, while both Ike and Phineas were accosted by detectives, Phineas surrendered willingly to the law, but Ike did not and was shot dead in a gun battle with the detectives.

A source that was present on the very day Ike Clanton was killed, gave an eye witness account of the sequence of events that led to his death. He stated that Ike had gone to a farm, and was met at the door by Mr. Brighton, and another detective Mr. Miller – who was present to provide any form of assistance as may be needed.

On sighting detective Miller, Ike drew his rifle to take a shot at the lawman and was ordered to stop by the two detectives, but unfortunately, he did not heed their warning. As he was readying his rifle to take aim at the two, detective Brighton fired at him, and the bullet penetrated his body just under his right arm, went straight through his beating heart, and came out of his body just under his left arm. Ike Clanton was killed instantly by that single shot.

After his death, some men came to identify his corpse, and took his remains for burial in a shallow grave, under a very large grave. Ike is survived by many relatives and some of the Clanton descendants still reside in the west today. The lifetime of crime and other violent acts of Ike Clanton has been depicted in various films and movies over the years, with some giving accurate details and others giving an inaccurate account.

Also Read: Top 10 Richest People in the world with full biography and details.