Fri, Oct. 18

1923: COTTONWOOD DUEL; R. L. Johnson Killed by H. G. Hall, May 12, Part 1.


"As a result of a gun battle which took place in a Cottonwood pool hall about 7 o'clock Saturday evening, Robert L. Johnson is dead and Harry Garrison Hall lies at the United Verde hospital in Jerome, his life hanging by a slender thread."

"Johnson fell dead a moment after he fired five shots at Hall, one of which took effect in the shoulder and grazed Hall's lung. Hall fired two shots, one of which entered Johnson's body just above the left nipple and came within an inch of emerging from the back. Hall's other shot ricocheted from Johnson's bar and grazed his arm."

"Amid the conflicting accounts of eye witnesses and persons who arived on the scene immediately after the shooting, it is difficult to piece together an accurate story of the affair."

"It appears, however, that there had been bad blood between Johnson and Hall for some time. At the start of the baseball season Johnson started a pool and Hall alleged that it was not conducted on the square. There were several bitter quarrels on this score."

"THREATS TO KILL: Saturday evening Hall was in Johnson's pool hall and the quarrel was renewed. Wild with rage, Hall declared that he would go to his service station, only a few doors up the street [now, the location of Arizona Stronghold, 1023 N. Main], return with his gun and shoot the matter out. As he left someone advised Johnson to make himself scarce as Hall undoubtedly meant what he said."

"'No, he hasn't any gun and he wouldn't have the nerve to shoot if he did have one,' Johnson is said to have replied carelessly."

"Hall did get his revolver. As he passed the Sliding Scale meat market, in which he is half owner, his partner, J. P. Mitchell, was sitting on the sidewalk in front. Hall is alleged to have flourished the weapon and told Mitchell that he would 'get it next.'"

"THE KILLING: As Hall re-entered the pool hall, Barney Thompson made a move to seize the gun, but Hall ordered him back with a remark similar to that which he had just made to Mitchell. Then, holding the revolver in one hand, he seized a bottle of apricot cordial in the other and threw it at Johnson, who was standing behind the bar. Johnson dived down after his own gun and as he came up, it is stated, Hall began shooting. His first shot was the one that found Johnson's breast and ended his life."

"Whether Johnson commenced firing before Hall had fired his second shot is not clear. It is alleged however, that Hall declared: 'Well, you'll have to do the rest of the shootin.' I'm out of ammunition.'"

"Johnson, partialy blind, was firing wildly. Only one of his five bullets found its mark."

"Hall walked out of the room, still holding a bottle in one hand and the gun in the other. He remarked to Jim Akers: 'Well, I guess I won't be bothered by him any more.'"

"Johnson followed Hall to the door. 'Is he gone?' he said."

"'Yes, he's gone.' Akers replied."

"'Well, I guess he'll stay out now.'"

"'Are you hit?'"

"'Yes, I'm hit.'"

"Johnson turned, walked to the bar and fell over dead. Akers caught him and eased him to the floor."

"Hall got into Barney Thompson's car, which was standing outside, and asked to be driven to Clarkdale. Thompson took him to the office of Dr. Louis Walsh in the smelter city. Dr. Walsh gave Hall first aid and sent him on to the Jerome hospital."

"Mrs. Hall and her oldest daughter, Miss Thirza DeWebber, were at the Clarkdale Chautauqua at the time of the tragedy. they were notified as soon as possible and Mrs. Hall went to her husband's bedside in Jerome."

"OFFICERS IN CHARGE: In the meantime Deputy Sheriff John Munds took charge of Johnson's body and closed the door of the pool hall. He notified Coroner Dan Robinson and an inquest was held immediately. The jurors were Jack Laird, Don Lee, M. W. Woods, Wallace Hancock, Charles Clyde and J. [Joseph] R. Hall. After viewing the remains and listening to the testimony of a few witnesses the jury brought a verdict that Johnson 'came to his death from a gunshot wound inflicted by H. G. Hall.'"

"Scott & McMillan, undertakers, took the body of Johnson to their morgue in Jerome. The funeral was held this afternoon in Cottonwood and interment was made in the Cottonwood cemetery."

"MAY BE FATAL: Ordinarily a wound such as Hall received would not be fatal, but because of his years and poor physical condition, it is feared that he will not survive. He is over 50 years of age and for many years has been a sufferer from spasmodic neuritis. Frequently he was confined to his bed for several days at a time."

"HALL'S HISTORY: Hall is commonly known as Harry Garrison, a circumstance which often has caused him to be confused with Ersel Garrison, proprietor of the Ford Garage in Cottonwood. He came to Cottonwood from South Dakota in 1917 with his first wife, who died a year or two later. He had been in the butcher business and saloon business in South Dakota, was a power in politics and at one time possessed considerable wealth. A son, Clifford Hall, who recently visited him in Cottonwood, still lives in that state. Hall opened a service station in Cottonwood and recently established a meat market with Mitchell. A year or so ago he married a Mrs. DeWebber."

"THE VICTIM: 'Bob' Johnson was 41 years old and well known throughout the Verde district. At one time he worked in Jerome as a boilermaker's helper for the United Verde Copper company. About three years ago he got a piece of steel in one eye and lost that optic. Last November he moved to Cottonwood. He is survived by a wife and one small son, two sisters and one brother. The sisters are Mrs. A. G. Utz of Georgetown, Indiana, and Mrs. A. W. Cullinan of Youngstown, Ohio. The brother, Ernest Johnson, lives in Agua Prieta and arrived in Cottonwood yesterday."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Tuesday, May 15, 1923; page 1, columns 5-6, page 4, columns 1-2.)

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