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Outlaws | Vintage Photos

The Phillips Collection featuring

George Parsons and
Dr. George Goodfellow

By Cathleen Briley
This is the fourth article featuring photos from the Phillips Collection. So far I have introduced new images of Mattie Blaylock Earp, Johnny Behan, John Clum, William ďBillyĒ Breakenrige, and Daniel Gordon Tipton from the Phillips Collection. Now, the focus will be on two more former Tombstone residents by the names of George Whitwell Parsons and Dr. George Emory Goodfellow. I didnít opt to feature these two men together because they shared a first name, but because I felt they were both remarkable in their own way, and because they had a profound impact on each other whilst in Tombstone.

George Parsons was born in Washington, D.C. in 1850, and for all intents and purposes, his life was all planned out for him. He was educated and then brought into his fatherís law firm, all according to plan. But, George Parsons had other, more adventurous, ideas. He first decided to salvage wrecked ships in Florida. But, this may have proved to be too much of an adventure for George when he nearly died in a hurricane.1 He headed west and worked at a bank until he found himself out of work. So, in 1880, he headed to Tombstone to work in the silver mines. Being a good- natured, honest, and hard-working man, Parsons joined the Vigilance Committee that supported law and order in Tombstone, and he worked his way up to a mining agent.2

George Emory Goodfellow was born in California in 1855 but was sent to private school out east. He returned to California and joined a military academy until he was dismissed in shame due to his foul treatment of an African American, a fellow student. Goodfellow then floundered somewhat until he discovered that he had a gift for medicine. He got his life back on track with a medical degree and a new wife. Dr. Goodfellow was also drawn to Tombstone in 1880 as well. He set up an office on the second floor of the Crystal Palace Saloon alongside neighbors Wyatt Earp, Johnny Behan, and others. Goodfellow partook of the entertainment available including games of faro, betting on horses, and boxing matches.

George Parsons and George Goodfellow may have known each other beforehand, but it wasnít until June 22, 1881 that the two men were put into a situation that let them show what they were truly made of.

On that day, fire erupted in Tombstone. George Parsons flew into action and saw the opportunity to save one building from destruction. The balcony was burning, but not yet the main part of the building. He wasted no time in developing a plan, and that was to separate the burning balcony from the front of the building. Despite any risk to himself, he whacked away at the balcony with an ax. He was successful in detaching the balcony from the building, but unfortunately, he was severely injured when the large pieces fell.3 His chin and left cheek were cut and his left upper lip was pierced with a splinter of wood. Far more devastating, though, his nose had been pushed in completely. Parsons was so injured that he had to take his meals through a straw and had difficulty just breathing. Parsons suffered in such a manner until Dr. Goodfellow came to his aid. The doctor devised an ingenious strategy for the time and used silver wire to reconstruct Parsonís nose. He did so by forcing silver wire into Parsonís nose and then shaping it to create something of a framework for his nose to heal around. According to Parsons, he underwent this painful ďsurgeryĒ and then went to work the very next day. Goodfellow did this repeatedly until the shape of Parsonís nose had been restored. Because Parsons was involved in such a good deed when he was injured, Goodfellow refused payment for his reconstruction work.4

But now, onto the photographs of these two men. For comparison purposes, the following is a younger photo of Dr. George Goodfellow courtesy of Spirits of the Border: The History and Mystery of Tombstone:
Young Dr. George Goodfellow
Dr. George Goodfellow 5
The following is a photo of an older Dr. Goodfellow that is from the Phillips Collection:
Dr. George Goodfellow
Dr. George Goodfellow
Phillips Collection
For comparison purposes, the following photo of George Parsons is taken from Casey Tefertillerís book, Wyatt Earp, The Life Behind the Legend:
George Parsons
George Parsons 6
And this is a photo of George Parsons from the Phillips Collection:
George Parsons
George Parsons
Phillips Collection
These men were then both present during the aftermath of the ambush on Virgil Earp in Tombstone in December of 1881, the doctor treating an obliterated arm, and Parsons aiding the doctor and the Earpís in any way he could. But, in my mind, it will instead be the event in which a doctor ingeniously treated a severely injured hero who willingly submitted to what had to be a series of very painful procedures that will forever link these two men together.

Later, Goodfellow was commended and recognized for his research of and the subsequent breakthrough ideas and methods of dealing with gunshot wounds. The violence during his short time in Tombstone provided him something of a field laboratory, and because of his concerned and curious nature he made the most of it.

George Parsons left Tombstone and went onto other mining prospects, and the diary that he kept from 1869 until 1929 was published, a portion of it under the title, A Tenderfoot in Tombstone, the Private Journal of George Whitwell Parsons: The Turbulent Years, 1880-82. Parsons may have been a tenderfoot when he arrived in Tombstone, but in my opinion, he certainly didnít exit as one.
1http://www.angelfire.com/co4/earpgang/parsons.html, 06/15/2015 >br> 2George W. Parsons. (2015, April 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:58, June 15, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_W._Parsons&oldid=659763550
3
George W. Parsons. (2015, April 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:34, June 18, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_W._Parsons&oldid=659763550
4 George Whitwell Parsons: A Tenderfoot in Tombstone, The Private Journal of George Whitwell Parsons: The Turbulent Years: 1880-8, Edited, Annotated, and with an Introduction by Lynn R. Bailey, Tucson, Arizona, Westernlore Press, 1996
5 Ken Hudnall, Spirits of the Border: The History and Mystery of Tombstone, Grave Distractions Publications, 2006
6 Casey Tefertiller, Wyatt Earp, The Life Behind the Legend, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., (credited to The Chafin Collection), 1997

© Cathleen Briley
July 17, 2015 Feature


The Phillips Collection :

Introduction | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

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