Tombstone’s new marshal shadows old legend

WyattEarpIllustration copy
Illustration by Amy Johnson/Arizona Sonora News

 

He didn’t ride in on a horse. He’s not here to make money gambling or looking for silver. And he certainly doesn’t wear boots with spurs.

But Tombstone has a new marshal in town.

Forest Hauser, the sheriff commander of Cochise County, assumed duties as interim city marshal of Tombstone on Jan. 13.

While the position may be temporary, the job has held a notorious reputation since the days of mining booms. Hauser is following in the footsteps of a Tombstone legend: Wyatt Earp.

Earp, Tombstone’s fearless vigilante, remains infamous for taking part in the historic gunfight at the O.K Corral. On Oct. 26, 1881, Earp served as deputy town marshal alongside his brother Virgil, the Tombstone city marshal. A band of outlaw cowboys arrived with unauthorized firearms in tow and a 30-second gunfight ensued. The Earps came out on top, leaving three cowboys dead.

And the historical legacy of Tombstone was born.

Not only was Wyatt Earp known for his Wild West antics, he was also an honorable lawman.

Ben Traywick, Tombstone’s historian emeritus, says Earp was an ideal deputy marshal. Despite his stern disposition, Earp  “enforced the law equally and impartially,” which made him successful, Traywick said.

Tombstone has changed a lot in the last 133 years, but loyalty to the law is still held to the same standard.

The position of marshal had been vacant since December, when Jeff Mitchell resigned due to personal family issues.

Without a head lawman, Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escaple called for backup and Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels sent in Hauser, who has worked with Dannels for about 30 years.

Dannels said that Hauser “knows how to run and operate law enforcement operations and has extensive leadership,” explains Sheriff Dannels.

Hauser wasn’t intimidated by the history behind the position.

“I think the marshal is a legendary icon for various reasons, historically and because of the Earp family. Those events during the time period put Tombstone on the map, but I look at myself as a law enforcement officer and I tend not to look at the status of being in a legendary agency,” Hauser said.

While he’s in Tombstone, Hauser hopes to focus on staff development and training. Hauser is making these his main focal points because he believes that as the culture of Tombstone changes, the law enforcement staff needs to be well updated.

Although Hauser succeeds Earp almost a century later, there is one thing the two prove together: temporary marshals can have long-term effects.

When asked if he would like to become full-time marshal, Hauser responded, “I am just on loan. There are things that I would like to do while I am here and hopefully I can get these things achieved.”

Liza Rubin is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact her at lizarubin@email.arizona.edu

Click here for a Word version of this story and a high-resolution illustration file.

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