Johnny Ringo

Johnny Ringo
1850 - 1882

Johnny Ringo History

Birth and Early Life

Hoodoo War


The Death of John Ringo

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Johnny Ringo History Page

The Story of the "King of the Cowboys"


   John Peters Ringo achieved a reputation as a notorious and dangerous man in Texas based on his participation in the Hoodoo War, also known as the Mason County War, which peaked in violence during 1875. In November 1876, a Mason County Grand Jury indicted Johnny Ringo for murder. But the case was eventually dismissed upon the request of the district attorney since he could not procure any testimony from witnesses to make a case. Following the dismissal, Johnny Ringo went from being an accused murderer in Mason County to a Constable when he captured two thirds of the votes cast during a November 1878 election for the law position in Precinct #4, Loyal Valley, Mason County, Texas.

  Around 1879, Johnny Ringo drifted West to the territory of Arizona where the notorious cowboy in a Safford saloon shot Louis Hancock in the neck for refusing to drink whisky with him. Then Johnny Ringo became the chief antagonist of Wyatt Earp, and received more notoriety before his death in July 1882. For more than a century, mystery and controversy have circulated about the details of Ringo's demise, making his death one of the most hotly debated deaths in Old West history.

   Johnny Ringo's passing did more than signal the consumation of the life of a notorious and dangerous man that had attained infamy throughout parts of the Southwest. It strangely began the cowboy's after-death journey into becoming a legendary cowboy whom writers romanticized to the point that he was considered one of the deadliest gunfighters of the Old West. By the 1960s, cinema and television had made Johnny Ringo a popular Western character known throughout the United States and in parts of Europe.

  As a result, the public's perception of John Ringo has been based largely on the legendary Johnny Ringo - deadly gunfighter, gentleman outlaw - "the fastest gun in all the West, the quickest ever known."

   This is the story of the real Johnny Ringo.

Your host is Steve Gatto, author of "The Real Wyatt Earp" (Edited by Neil Carmony) (2000), "Johnny Ringo" (2002), "Curly Bill, Tombstone's Most Famous Outlaw" (2003).  Steve's latest work, "Hurled Into Eternity, The Story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" has not yet been released.
Portions of the text appearing on this site come from the above books.
"He was recognized by friends and foes as a recklessly brave man, who would go any distance, or undergo any hardship to serve a friend or punish an enemy." Tombstone Epitaph