The Wild West In The Rim Country

Chapter 7: Murders On The Trail To Globe

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The place was Globe, Arizona Territory; the time was Wednesday, Aug. 23, 1882. Delfina Morena gave her 11-year-old daughter Augustina a short grocery list and sent her to the store carrying a small basket. A half-hour later, Augustina returned breathless, her basket still empty. “Mother!” she exclaimed, “There are two men hanging from the tree down by St. Elmo’s Saloon. They are dead, just swinging in the wind. I know one of them. He looks like that dance instructor, Lafayette Grimes. We saw him at the photographer’s place when I had my birthday picture taken.”

photo

Courtesy of Huntington Library

Andrew Hall

photo

Courtesy of Wells Fargo Archives

Cicero Grimes

Lafayette Grimes was indeed a dance instructor in Globe, and a sometime assistant to the local photographer. His brother Cicero was in business with Curtis B. Hawley, and the two of them had won a bid to build a stagecoach road from Globe to Riverside (a stage stop near Florence). They could not raise money for the required bond, so they planned to rob the paymaster’s treasure for the Mack Morris Mine. The Wells Fargo buckboard wagon from Casa Grande was bringing the mail and the cash. The rugged road ended at Pioneer Pass, and the shipment was planned to proceed the additional 10 miles to Globe on Frank Porter’s pack mule train.

Grimes and Hawley lost the bid for the road project. They decided to go ahead with the robbery and use the money to build a toll bridge east of town. For the robbery they would dress like Indians so the blame could be placed on the local Apaches.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 20, Lafayette Grimes and Hawley waited at the place on the trail that had been scoped out by Cicero a little over four miles south of town. With their ambuscade they waited for the mule train that carried the treasure box. Their plan was to kill the mule, scare off the mail carrier, Andy Hall, and the mule driver, Frank Porter.[1]

While Cicero followed behind, cutting many feet of telegraph wire to prevent an alert, Lafayette and Hawley intercepted and shot the treasure-bearing mule. Frank Porter escaped into the brush and as Hall brandished his gun, the robbers shot him in the thigh. He escaped into the brush, just as Cicero Grimes arrived to help the other two take $5,000 from the treasure box and stuff it into their saddle bags. 

As the threesome took obscure trails that would take them circuitously to Globe, they met the local druggist, Dr. W. F. Vail, who was out prospecting. They asked if he had heard any shots, and when he said he had, they shot him three times. He lay wounded on the trail as they stole his watch. 

As the three continued, the wounded Andy Hall caught up with them. He had tracked the thieves for two miles, leaving behind a path of torn cloth pieces for a posse to follow. The shot in his thigh had not penetrated deep enough to stop his pursuit. Now the criminals pumped seven shots into Hall, making them not only robbers, but murderers.

The three men buried the treasure and secretly returned to town to assume their business as if nothing had happened. Monday morning, Frank Porter came rushing into town to report the robbery and the murders. A posse was quickly formed, and they went to the scene where they found the dead mule, the cash box missing, and following Andy Hall’s trail of cloth pieces they located his body. When they found Dr. Vail lying on the trail, he was still breathing, but near death. He described the two robbers, and the identity of the men who shot him. He then expired.

During the next 24 hours Sheriff Lowther and his posse uncovered enough evidence to lead them to Curtis Hawley and the Grimes brothers. The Moreno girl, who recognized one of the lynched men, added to the identification. The three were arrested on Wednesday and held in the Globe County jail. Hawley and Lafayette Grimes hoped for a lighter sentence by agreeing to show the sheriff where they had buried the money. Cicero Grimes pleaded not guilty of the murders, insisting he was only an accomplice, scouting out the plan ahead of time. Leaving Cicero in jail, the deputies took the other two back along the trail and recovered the treasure. The sun was long down by the time they returned to town with the cache, but just as they approached the jail they were surrounded by an angry mob. The sheriff waved his gun in warning, but the lynching mob seized Hawley and Lafayette Grimes, shouting, “Hang the murderers!”

The law officers did not put up a struggle, realizing the temper of the crowd and that they were outmanned. The prisoners were released into the hands of the lynching party. Lowther hurried on in to the jail and got Cicero. “Man, you better come with me or they’ll string you up too. That would not do for your wife and kids. I’m going to take and hide you in a cave for now.”

The moon had been full on Saturday, Aug. 19, and now on the wane it came out from behind a cloud to light the grisly scene. The mob jostled Hawley and Grimes down Broad Street to the St. Elmo Saloon, there a tall sycamore tree stood out in the road with large limbs growing horizontally about 15 feet above the ground. A couple of ropes with nooses in them were flung up over the limbs and the two accused killers were pushed into place. 

“Wait a minute, gentlemen,” yelled Lafayette Grimes. “I’ll be damned if I’ll die with my boots on.” With that, he sat down in the dust and pulled off his boots.

When the nooses were in place around their necks, the mob of wild-eyed men pulled on the ropes, yanking the two up into the air. After a brief struggle, their bodies hung limp, and the ropes were tied to the hitching post in front of St. Elmo’s. The crowd then disbursed with murmured affirmations that justice had been served.

Cicero Grimes was sent to the Territorial prison in Yuma, and spent the next months pretending, with great effectiveness, that he was insane. The warden at Yuma was always glad to get rid of a prisoner because of overcrowding, and he had Grimes sent to the insane asylum in Stockton, Calif. It was customary for the insane from Arizona Territory to be sent there, as Arizona had no facility to accommodate folks who had lost their minds. On Sept. 9, 1883 Cicero Grimes escaped from the asylum in Stockton and was never found.

[1] Andrew Hall, 32 years old, was known for being one of six surviving members of Powell’s first expedition down the Colorado River. He was also one of two men who had successfully negotiated the river all the way to the Gulf of California. He was now working for the Wells Fargo Company.

SOURCES:

1) Oral history interview by Stan Brown with Isabel Renny, daughter of Augustina Moreno, who told the story her mother had related about seeing the murderers hanging from the tree on Broad Street.

2) Wells, Fargo and Co.: Stagecoach and train robberies, 1870-1884 by James Hine, John Thacker and Michael Wilson, McFarland publisher, 2010, page 104f

3) Bigando, Robert. Globe, Arizona: The Life and Times of a Western Mining Town 1864-1917. Globe: American Globe Publishing Co., 1989

4) Court records and testimonies, Archive, Gila County Courthouse.

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