Friday, August 19, 2011
Fin Clanton: The Lesser Known Brother
He may not have been one of the participants in the shooting at the O.K. Corral but he did have his share of seedy activities and breaking the law. He was born Phineas Fay Clanton on December in 1843 and went by the nickname of “Phin” or “Fin”. He was one of seven children born to Newman Haynes Clanton and Maria Sexton Kelton. Fin was born in Callaway County, Missouri but lived in many places during his young life.
When he was in his early 20’s his mother died while the family was traveling to California. In 1869 when he was 24, he lived with his oldest brother John and his wife Nancy. By the age of 28, Fin moved back to Arizona to help his father establish a farming community he called Clantonville in Gila Valley, Arizona. In 1877, the same year Ed Shieffelin discovered silver and founded Tombstone, the Clantons moved near the San Pedro River and built a house for their newly established ranch. They raised cattle and sold lots of beef to the citizens of the neighboring towns.
In July of 1881, many Mexican smugglers were killed in what was called the First Skeleton Canyon Massacre. Fin’s father, “Old Man” Clanton, was said to be part of the group committing the murders. One month later while driving a herd of cattle through Guadalupe Canyon near the Mexican border, “Old Man” Clanton and several other were ambushed and killed by Mexican Rurales. His body, along with the others, was buried near Cloverdale, New Mexico. Later that year on October 26th, Fin lost his younger brother Billy when he was killed during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. His brother Ike was able to escape unharmed. A year later, Fin and Ike had their father’s bones dug up and buried at the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone next to Billy.
Fin spent years afterwards running amuck and suspected of cattle rustling with his brother Ike. In 1886, Fin was accused of grand larceny with 15 indictments against him. On September 1887, he was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in the Yuma Arizona State Prison. He only spent one year and five months in prison before being pardoned by the governor. Afterwards, he moved to Globe, Arizona with his buddy Pete Spence and had an Angora goat farm.
Trouble always seemed to follow Fin. He was arrested and accused of stealing jewelry but was found innocent of the crime. On October 15, 1902, at the age of 58, Fin married his love Laura Jane Bound. She was 44 and had a 12 year old son from her first marriage. Four years later on January 5th, Fin was in a wagon accident and out in the cold weather for a long period of time. He became ill and died at the age of 61 to a bad case of pneumonia. Laura married Fin’s friend and business partner Pete Spence four years after his death.