DescriptionAllen R. English: The Personal Briefcase and an Archive of Papers Belonging to this Flamboyant Tombstone Personality. "Irrepressible" is a term often used to describe English, whose house is today an historic landmark in Tombstone. Already a law graduate, twenty year old English moved to Tombstone in 1880. He worked first as a miner, but quickly turned to the practice of law, becoming a partner in the Smith & Goodrich firm, and later serving three terms as Cochise County District Attorney. Renowned as a heavy drinker, he was thought to be at his most effective in the courtroom when under the influence. His prowess led to the nickname "The Courtroom Colossus". Between the town's rowdy nature and the inevitable disputes over mining claims and real estate, a lawyer like English never wanted for work.
On one occasion his courtroom antics drew a thirty-day sentence for contempt from Judge Alfred Lockwood. In response English delivered a fifteen minute defense citing every authority from Shakespeare to the Greek and Latin poets to the Almighty Himself. Laughing so hard tears streamed down his cheeks, the judge reduced the term to fifteen days. But English proved such a bother that he was released after serving just three days.
In another famous incident he was defending a gunslinger named Wily Morgan who was charged with murder. The court recessed for lunch before proceeding to final arguments, and English retired to his favorite saloon. There he was found passed out on the floor. A wagon conveyed him to the courthouse where he was carried up the back stairs. It was said that English opened his eyes and went into one of his most flowery and effective orations, after which his client was found innocent. When well-wishers stepped up to congratulate him, it became apparent that the attorney had no idea what had just transpired!
The present lot includes: (1) A very important original large-format photo of English's house, measuring 12" x 10" including original mount. "Home Sweet Home. Tombstone Arizona" on verso, along with identifications in his hand. Photo has one small crack and several small brown stain marks, and mount with small imperfections as shown. (2) Ten original albumen photos of terrain around Tombstone, including one showing a clearly recognizable English looking into a mine. Each 6.25" x 5.25" including mounts. Photos in very good condition with light soiling and staining in borders. (3) Original 5.5" x 4" photo of five children posed at the picket fence in front of English's home. Identified in his hand as Bryan, Byron Stein, Robert, Luther and Silas Hare. (4) His well-used leather briefcase, monogrammed below the lock "A.R.E.". (5) Inside the briefcase are upwards of one hundred documents and letters, mostly signed by English, including longhand letters. Subject matter is largely legal cases, dating from the period after he moved his practice to Bisbee when the Cochise County Courthouse was moved there from Tombstone. Among the more significant are a series of documents and letters relating to a client who was seeking damages form the Mexican government because of her husband's death in an episode during the Mexican Revolution. A number of letters deal with English's attempt to extract money from a family who he had helped to obtain a large settlement. "When the plaintiffs in that case heard me testify they realized they were lost, and Mr. Campbell knew he had won and said to me, while helping me from the courtroom to my bed, that he was extremely gratified that 'You will never want for anything. We will take care of you.'...But Allen R. the man who saved the day...never received a dollar afterwards, although his absence for five months destroyed what law practice he had, and he has since lived upon the generosity of his friends." His appeals having fallen on deaf ears, he asked the help of a mutual acquaintance, "If I were younger or in health or as well off in worldly goods as I have been in the past, instead of a crippled up old man, I never in this wide world would deign to make this or any other appeal, but now it is force-put for I am in distress and about desperate..." He closes by appealing: "I consider you, Mr. Cole more or less a Western man, and can you in the consciousness of near of one such, say you believe I am not entitled to some consideration?" Clearly, despite his age and poor health, English had not lost his gift of gab.
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