On a cold December day in 1883, five men robbed the Goldwater & Casteneda Store on Main Street that substituted for Bisbee’s only bank. They did so believing that the mining company’s payroll was locked inside the store’s safe. What started as a quick and easy robbery ended in the death of almost a dozen people.
The robbers quickly discovered a problem. The mine’s payroll had not yet arrived. Foolishly, the five robbers stuck around to steal what they could from the store, its owners, and customers. This took time. Time they did not have.
Two of the robbers stood guard outside the store, rifles ready. Their presence attracted the attention of some of Bisbee’s rough and ready citizens, who were typically well-armed at all times. Within minutes, four citizens lay dead or dying, including a New Mexico police officer who tried to intervene, and a pregnant woman, shot dead through a window by a stray bullet.
As the robbers rode south out of town, there was a hail of gunfire between them and the crowd of citizens that had gathered. Amazingly, none of the robbers was hit, except for a grazed jacket.
One citizen jumped on his horse and headed north to Tombstone to notify the sheriff. He made the 22-mile trip in less than two hours and along the way passed the stage carrying the riches of the Copper Queen payroll. Read More