Haynes Clanton, also known as "Old Man Clanton" moved part of his
large family into Arizona Territory from California in the early
1870's. Toward the end of 1879, the Earp brothers and their women
started to arrive in Tombstone. In my opinion, much like Wyatt Earp
himself, Clanton was there because he was an opportunist.
Clanton saw an opportunity in the Territory to make a go of farming.
He then saw an opportunity to make more money raising cattle. In
that venture he was quite successful, and eventually had the largest
cattle ranch in the area. But, his herds were mostly populated with
cattle stolen from Sonora, Mexico. Apparently, the ease of stealing
cattle from Sonora rather than purchasing was far too opportune
to pass up. The cattle were right there, just a few miles across
the Mexican border, and the herds were vast. No, there was no flashing
neon sign on the Mexican cattle ranches that said "steal me, steal
me now" but there might as well have been because Clanton and his
eventual cohorts (a band of thieves and outlaws known as the Cowboys
that included his sons, the McLaury brothers, Curly Bill Brocius,
Johnny Ringo, Frank Stillwell and others) made a habit of taking
every advantage of that opportunity.
The Clanton sons that lived in Arizona Territory (Phin, Ike, and
Billy) learned from their father how to take advantage of an opportunity.
But, we will focus currently on Ike, who was born Joseph Isaac Clanton.
As well as helping his father with the cattle business (which also
included raids into Mexico), when silver ore was discovered in what
would become Tombstone in 1877, Ike took advantage of the opportunity
by opening a restaurant to serve the hungry growing population.
The members of the Clanton family were often in Tombstone since
they lived nearby. The Clanton's and the Earp's were much like oil
and water. No matter what stimulation was applied, they just weren't
going to mix. Ike Clanton survived the shootout at the O.K. Corral
on October 26, 1881, which is ironic since he was one of the main
reasons it happened in the first place.
From the onset of their coexistence, the Clanton's were a continual
thorn in the Earp's sides through their cooperative and varied criminal
efforts, their direct hostile threats, their drunken tirades, election
fraud efforts, and various forms of intimidation. Even though their
leader, Old Man Clanton, was shot and killed in August of 1881 (and
buried in what would become known as Boot Hill Cemetery), that didn't
ease the tension between the factions. When push came to shove in
October of 1881, it was Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers who
didn't survive the volley of bullets on that fateful day at the
O.K. Corral. Ike ran away from the fight, saving his own skin. But,
that wasn't the end of the Clanton's confrontation with the Earp's.
After the death of his brother Billy at the shootout, Ike Clanton
made sure that murder charges were filed against the Earp's and
Doc Holliday. Ike then personally testified against them during
the trial. But, the Earp's and Doc Holliday were exonerated. Judge
Spicer particularly mentioned during his ruling that the night before
the shootout, an unarmed Ike Clanton said openly that the Earp brothers
and Doc Holliday had insulted him, and that when he was armed he
intended to shoot them or fight them on sight.
Two months after the shootout at the O.K. Corral, Ike and Phin Clanton
were accused of attempting to kill Virgil Earp when they ambushed
him on Allen Street in an act of vengeance. They didn't succeed
in killing him, but they did maim Virgil's left arm with the buckshot.
Ike's hat had been found at the scene, but his friends swore before
the judge that Ike wasn't even in Tombstone that night, so the charges
were eventually dropped.
We can now take a look at the likenesses of Ike Clanton. For comparison
purposes, the famous picture of Ike Clanton taken at C.S. Fly's
studio, borrowed from Wikipedia, is on the left. The picture on
the right is a photo of Clanton from the Phillips Collection.