The Bisbee stage was robbed in June 1891 by two Mexicans wearing bandanas covering the lower half of their faces. It was the first time the Bisbee stagecoach had been robbed in five years. The newspapers pointed out that it was the first stage robbery since the hangings of the six men involved in the Bisbee massacre. The Bisbee Stage was on its way to Tombstone when the two Mexicans rode up behind the stage as it had slowed down coming out of a canyon trail. One of the Mexicans pointed his gun at the stage driver L.A. Engle and ordered him to stop the stage. A woman named Eva Stanley was sitting next to him. The other Mexican had his weapon pointed at the passenger Dan Simon inside the stagecoach.
The Mexicans ordered the men to empty their pockets. Engle, who was the owner of the Bisbee Stage, turned over $42 and his watch while Simon only had 50 cents on him. The Mexicans did not bother Eva Stanley. It turned out that she had more money on her than was stolen. A trunk with some clothes in it was also taken. Engle was ordered to drive off while the Mexicans pointed their guns at him, when the stage got out of range, the two robbers headed in the opposite direction. Some other stage coaches were robbed reportedly by Mexicans in the weeks preceding the Bisbee stage robbery, one was near Florence and one in Bowie. In April and May a stage was robbed at Ft. Thomas and Casa Grande. Geronimo was a suspect in these robberies.
A week later Sheriff Kelton received a dispatch in Tombstone from his Deputy A.N. Gray at Benson. The message read, “Geronimo was killed about 30 miles from here yesterday. I have his body on ice. One other man was wounded. Can you send anyone to identify him?”
The end for Geronimo Miranda came not from the lawmen that had pursued him over the years but at the hands of some San Pedro Valley ranchers. Geronimo and two members of his gang Victoriano Sandoval and Guadalupe Redondo had stolen a saddle and bridle from the Sanford Ranch on the San Pedro. They later stole two horses as they made their way down the San Pedro below Benson. D.H. Logan at Pantano took up their trail. Along the way he was joined by W. F. Hughes, Chino Orosco and W.H. Gibson. All of these men owned places in the San Pedro Valley. Further down the trail they stopped at two ranches and Sam Bohn and Sam Morgan joined their posse.
The ranchers followed Geronimo and his men for about 30 miles before catching up to them. Hughes yelled in Spanish for them to halt. One of the Mexicans stopped and turned around. Geronimo and Redondo spurred their horses while pulling their pistols and firing on the posse as they attempted to flee. The cowboys were armed with Winchester rifles and returned fire. Geronimo rode about 250 yards before falling off his horse. Redondo continued down the road firing his pistol at the approaching posse. He attempted to jump an irrigation ditch with his horse but his horse stumbled and got bogged down in the water and mud. Redondo fled into the bushes and fired more shots at the ranchers. He would be caught later by a rancher named George Wilson and some other cowboys that had heard that horse thieves were in the area. Redondo had been slightly wounded during the first exchange of fire. Sandoval was the one that had halted when Hughes yelled. He did not fire his weapon and surrendered.
Victoriano Sandoval confessed that he and Geronimo had robbed the Bisbee stage. He said that after the robbery they had headed to Nogales. They were headed to Mammoth along the San Pedro when the ranchers caught up to them. Along the way they had come across a Chinaman and robbed him. They were headed to Mammoth to meet up with some Mexicans coming from Globe. They were planning to rob a store in Mammoth together. Sandoval had once worked for Sheriff John Slaughter as a deputy and had been assigned to track Geronimo Miranda at one time.
Burt Alvord went to Benson and identified Geronimo’s body. Alvord would later become an outlaw himself and become involved in a train robbery. John Slaughter also came to see the man that had murdered his deputy Cesario Lucero. The newspapers said that Slaughter ,“Was pleased to hear of the death of the worst character in the county during his time of office.” Slaughter was probably relieved as it was reported that Geronimo had sworn to kill Slaughter. Slaughter also identified Geronimo and pointed out the scars on his body caused by buckshot from his shotgun down in Charleston. Geronimo, the man that had robbed numerous stage coaches, the Agua Zarca train and killed men in Sonora and Arizona was now gone. He had met his fate along the San Pedro.
Editor’s Note: The first part of this story was published in the June 2014 Pinal Nugget. If you missed it, you can still read it online at http://bit.ly/1iqhL8a.