Ira Murphy's Version Of The John See Story



After writing last week's column on John See killing his wife, Annie See, and leaving his infant son Charlie See with her, another version of the story has surfaced, although the names change. The following story was written by Ira Murphy and printed in the Mogollon Advisor:

"While John Henry "Rim Rock" Thompson was sheriff of Gila County, a large quantity of silver bullion was stolen from one of the mining companies. The sheriff was sure that John See, who had lived in Gila County and was rather negative towards law enforcement, had taken the bullion. However, Rim Rock Thompson had never been able to find the silver and no one else knew where the bullion was hidden. Rim Rock was quoted as saying that he would like to get See and find the silver and stop some of See's contempt for the law.

See lived in a rather remote part of the country and laughed when told that Thompson suspected him of the theft. See was living in his rather lonely cabin with a common law wife by the name of Mary Narrow. Mary was kind of hooked on See and was often the subject of his abuse and took many beatings from the outlaw.

Finally, when See was away, Mary took her young daughter and fled the cabin and went to her parent's home to reside with them. Rim Rock Thompson went to see Mary after he found that she had fled from See's cabin and talked her into going back to John See and find out where the bullion was hidden. Mary agreed to go back with her little girl and stay for awhile, but would leave when she found the hiding place of the silver.

Mary returned to John See and stayed for several weeks and found out the hiding place of the treasure. She then fled back to her parent's home and told Rim Rock what she knew.

Immediately, Thompson went to the See cabin, found the silver and arrested See and placed him in the Globe jail. Shortly after, See broke out of jail while Thompson was away. See knew Mary would return to her parent's cabin, so he went straight for the little farm and found Mary milking the family cow and the little daughter watching her mother do the chore. See came up and shot both Mary and the daughter at very short range and both died on the spot. The outlaw got back on his horse and rode off.

The next day the parents reported the killings to Thompson and he started a search, but See was long gone and was smart enough to leave his Rim Rock did not get this man and he often said that he wanted See more than any man he had ever sought. People who knew Rim Rock said it was a good thing that John See never came into Thompson's territory -- he would have avenged the shooting of Mary and her daughter with interest.

Now, with this information from Ira Murphy, the story has taken a few turns. According to Marguerite Noble's story (last week's column), John See shot and killed his wife, Annie, who was milking a cow, and left his infant son Charlie See there with her and rode to the lower Tonto where his parents lived and told them what he had done. Then he and his brother Bob See rode to Mexico and began a new life. Marguerite got her information from Julian and Jack Journigan -- people who would surely know. Plus, Marguerite was related to the Journigans. She would have inside information. She was told that John See killed his wife in a jealous rage -- that he had heard that she had been unfaithful -- but stressed, we do not know if she was or not.

We don't know where Ira Murphy got his information. His story about the stolen silver bullion certainly gives John See a motive for killing his wife -- whether her name was Annie or Mary -- and he probably would have viewed her actions as "unfaithful." Both stories say See shot and killed his wife while she was milking a cow. But one says he rode off and left his little son, Charlie See, alive and the other says he shot and killed the little daughter of Mary. There are some possible answers here. Maybe Mary was his common law wife and Annie was his wedded wife -- or maybe he was married to both of them or neither of them. If he was truly an outlaw, as Ira Murphy said, who knows?

But no matter whether he killed Annie, or Mary and her little daughter, why do so few people know of this terrible crime? Did the family keep it a secret? According to Ira Murphy, John See was arrested and placed in jail in Globe. There should be some record of that. We will look.

If Ira Murphy's account is true, then where did Charlie See come from? He was told that his father killed his mother while she was milking a cow. And Charlie See did exist. Anna Mae Deming and Marguerite Noble remember him well. He and his cousin, Julian Journigan, ran a mail and stage line from Globe to Payson for many years. Both were raised by their grandparents, John See Sr. and his wife, Louisa who lived on the lower Tonto.

Maybe Charlie had a different mother. Maybe his father took him to his parent's place on lower Tonto before the shooting. Maybe Charlie belonged to John See and the little girl did not. Maybe. Maybe. We need to know these things. Some poor woman was shot and killed by an angry husband and left in a corral. Where is her grave? If a little girl was killed, where is her grave?

One thing that rings true in Ira Murphy's account of the story is that John See had the means (the silver bouillon) to buy land and become a big rancher in Mexico. How else could an outlaw ride into Mexico and become an aristocrat?

And what happened to John and Louisa See of lower Tonto? Maybe they were embarrassed by what happened and left. We have not yet found find their graves.

Looking at Great Register of 1890, I see where John M. See, age 22, signed it. He was born in the U.S. and was voting at Grapevine, which is in the lower Tonto Basin. I'm thinking this is John See, the man who killed his wife.

Also on the Great Register for 1890 is John Shelby See, age 56, born in Missouri, and who voted at Tonto. I'm thinking this was the father of the man who killed his wife. Too bad they didn't let women vote. We might have found their names. John Shelby See voted at Tonto every two years between 1890 and 1900, but the younger John See did not vote. That's probably because he was in Mexico.

Something else of interest. On the 1892 Great Register, Robert See (age 26) voted in Payson. Is this Robert the "Bob" See that went to Mexico with John See after he killed his wife? Bet it was.

Also on the 1892 and 1894 Great Register is the signature of Silas Marshall See (age 53), born in Indiana, who voted in Pine; a Henry H. See, (age 21) born in California, also signed. Could this be a father and son, and was Silas Marshall See a brother to John Shelby See? I'm betting these Sees are all related. There were not a lot of people living in this area during those years.

As for Mary Narrow, the woman that Ira Murphy said was shot and killed by John See -- where did she come from? I can find no records on her. Murphy said she went to her parent's home nearby. I can find no records on anyone by the name of Narrow.

This is a murder mystery that I really want to solve. Surely some one out there has heard something of these people.

Sheriff Rim Rock Thompson's most notable case was that of John See. And we know so little. If any reader has more information on any of these people, please contact us at (928) 474-0380 or write to Jinx Pyle and Jayne Peace-Pyle, c/o the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, or P.O. Box 2520, Payson, AZ 85547.

Jayne Peace-Pyle, Arizona Historian, recently released her first novel, "Muanami -- Sister of the Moon." The story relates the trials and struggles of a Comanche medicine woman and shows that motherhood transcends all cultures and times. Cost of the book is $15. Other books by Jayne Peace-Pyle and Jinx Pyle: "Looking Through the Smoke," "Mountain Cowboys," "History of Gisela," "Rodeo 101- the History of the Payson Rodeo," "Blue Fox," and "Calf Fries and Cow Pies." The books can be purchased at Sue Malinski's Art and Antique Corral in Payson and from Lorraine Cline in Tonto Basin.

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