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Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton, circa 1880.
Newman Haynes Clanton (1816-1881) was a successful cattle rancher and the father of the four Clanton brothers of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, including Billy Clanton and Ike Clanton, who became involved in the events that developed into the Gunfight at the OK Corralmarker.

Early life

Newman Clanton was born in Davidson County, Tennesseemarker, and married Mariah Sexton Kelso in Callaway County, Missourimarker on January 5, 1840. Together the couple would have five sons and two daughters; John Wesley, Phineas Fay (Phin), Joseph Isaac (Ike), William Harrison (Billy), Mary Elise, Ester Ann, and Alonzo Peter. Alonzo died as an infant. For almost twenty years, the family moved repeatedly, trying to find a place where employment or business could bring the family profits.

In 1853 Newman moved the family to Dallas, Texasmarker, where they ranched for a time, and where their last two children, Ester and Alonzo were born. Both Newman and his oldest son John enlisted in the Confederate Home Guard at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Newman was eventually released due to his age. Newman moved the family to Arizona Territory in 1865, at the wars end, settling for a time near Fort Bowie, by Willcox, Arizonamarker. In 1866, he moved the family to San Buena Ventura, California, and shortly thereafter his wife Mariah died. Her death profoundly effected the family, as Newman Clanton was now left with four boys and two girls to manage and provide for.

In 1871, he moved the family to Port Hueneme, Californiamarker, then in 1873 he returned them to Arizona. By 1877 the Clanton's owned a ranch on the San Pedro River, some five miles outside of Charleston, Arizonamarker, and in a short amount of time and with a lot of work, the Clanton Ranch became one of the most successful in Arizona. The recent Silver mine strikes in the area caused a cattle beef demand, and the timing could not have been better for the Clanton's. Although, for the most part, the cattle ranch was legitimate, they did utilize cattle they rustled in Mexicomarker often. While this is what led to him being considered by some to be an outlaw, by all indications he simply considered it business, since the acts of cattle rustling he was conducting were not taking place inside the United States.

It was during this time that several notables of the Old West came to work on the Clanton Ranch. These included Pony Diehl, William Brocius, and Frank and Tom McLaurymarker. Johnny Ringo became associated with them around this time, fresh off his participation in the Mason County War, during which he'd sided with Texas Ranger and gunman Scott Cooley. However, it is not believed that Ringo officially worked for the ranch as much as he was merely friends with Brocius, and Ike Clanton.

The Clantons

At worst, those in his employ were known to steal livestock (Cattle rustling) from across the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as other acts of banditry. Although history has since portrayed him as a leader of an outlaw gang, this was not the case. For all practical purposes, he ran his cattle ranch with great financial success, and didn't involve himself in other matters. There also is no evidence at all that he ever met any members of the Earp faction.

Despite Hollywood's portrayals in film, the "Cowboys" themselves, as a group, were loosely connected, and not organized. Often portrayed as being tight-knit and clannish, they in reality were little more than an association of friends and/or coworkers. Men who considered themselves members of the Cowboys were often participants in robberies and cattle rustling, but this was rarely, if ever, an organized planned out affair, and was most often without the knowledge of "Old Man" Clanton until after the fact. It was though, ironically, most likely due to one of these disorganized criminal acts that led to his demise.

"Old Man" Clanton was killed along with four other men in August, 1881, in what was dubbed the Guadalupe Canyon Massacre, probably by Mexicans in retaliation for an earlier ambush by rustlers associated with the Clantons. His youngest son, Billy Clanton, would be killed two months later in the O.K. Corral gunfight, and buried in Tombstone's "Boot Hill" Cemetery beside the McLaury brothers. In 1882, two of Clanton's surviving sons removed the elder Clanton's body from its original grave in Guadalupe Canyon, and re-buried it next to Billy Clanton in Boot Hill. By 1887, another son, outlaw Ike Clanton, was killed in a gunfight with lawmen. The Cowboys for all practical purposes ceased to exist following the now famous Earp Vendetta Ride of late 1881.

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