|Another fragment of the Old West – a Pima County Bank Check/Draft from Tombstone, Arizona dated November 12, 1880 payable to the law practice of Hereford & Zabriskie. It is
endorsed on the reverse by law firm partner James Albert Zabriskie. The check was drawn at Tombstone, Arizona Territory on November 21, 1880, a little less than a year before
what would become the most infamous gunfight in the Old West – the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It is signed by P.W. Smith, Manager.
P. W. Smith (Phillip William Smith, 1828-1901) was a key and colorful figure in early Tombstone history. He was a Republican, and considered a member of Wyatt Earp’s political
"faction." He owned and operated "P. W. Smith's," a popular general merchandise store in Tombstone. He also owned "P. W. Smith's Corral," on the corner of Third Street where
Wyatt and Doc Holliday sometimes stabled their horses. Smith and partners B. Solomon and J. B. Fried supplied Tombstone with gas for street lights and homes. Smith was also one of
the partners in the newspaper "Tombstone Epitaph," along with mayor John Clum, Charles Reppy, E. B. Gage (also members or sympathizers of the “Earp Faction”) , and several
others. He sold his interest in the paper when Milt Joyce and some other Democratic investors took control and brought in Sam Purdy as the new editor.
In 1879, brothers Barron and Lionel Jacobs partnered with Smith to open the Pima County Bank, the first formal financial institution in Tucson. The two brothers were established
merchants and suppliers in the Tucson and Tombstone areas, having expanded the family's business from San Bernardino, California eastward into southeastern Arizona. The
following year, in 1880, the trio opened the "Agency Pima County Bank" in Tombstone, where it operated out of Smith's mercantile building. In 1882 it became the "Cochise County
Bank," with Smith as President, but it would shut down in 1890 because of Tombstone's depressed economy following the closure of many of the silver mines in the area. Many of
Tombstone's legendary lawmen and outlaws regularly did business with Smith; the day before the shootout at the OK Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, “Cow-Boys” Ike Clanton and Tom
McLaury made deposits with Smith at the Pima County Bank, located in Smith's mercantile building, a section of which apparently doubled as a bank. It was later that evening, after
hitting the Occidental Saloon and getting drunk, that Ike had his famous run-in with Doc Holliday, which would lead to the gunfight the following day. Allegedly, a day or so before the
gunfight occurred, Wyatt Earp took delivery of a special coat from P. W. Smith's mercantile store: supposedly a mackinaw with lined pockets and made in dark blue heavy jean or
canvas. The pockets were supposed to be lined with stiff leather, doubling as "holsters" to hide Earp's pistols. This has been debated for years by Western historians, and apparently
has never been proven.
On the day of the shooting, one of Smith's employees, J. H. Batcher, was coming back to the mercantile store, walking a few feet behind Wyatt Earp, who was walking in the same
direction. He witnessed the famous confrontation between Tom McLaury and Wyatt, which ended when Earp slapped him and then smacked him a second time with the butt of his
pistol. This incident, along with Doc Holliday's confrontation with Ike Clanton earlier that day, would touch off the gunfight later that day. Batcher would later be called to testify in
court as to what he saw that day. P. W. Smith, merchant, banker, publisher and entrepreneur knew and associated with pretty much every major figure involved in Tombstone's early
days, and the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Pima County Bank
Tombstone, Arizona Territory, United States
November 12, 1880