Curly Bill's Texas Conviction (1878)
Curly Bill was rumored to have been from Texas. Many thought that he had also been involved in the Lincoln County War in some way. Yet, the problem was no real trace of him in either of these locations has ever been found. Wyatt Earp provided the only real lead concerning Curly Bill's activities prior to his arrival in Tombstone. It should be remembered that Wyatt had had a conversion with Curly Bill while transporting him to be held in the Tucson jail following the shooting of Fred White. At that time the Tombstone Epitaph noted that Earp had learned that Brocius was an escaped prisoner from El Paso, Texas. The information about Curly Bill's conviction remained unfound for over a hundred years.
He Had Used A Different Name!!
Why had this information remained unfound for so long? In reality, few people have done any real research on Curly Bill. Also, those that had looked into Wyatt Earp's lead, probably wrote the Court Clerk's office for information on William Brocius or possibly William Graham. These attempts were unsucessful because Curly Bill had instead used the name William Bresnaham. Thus, his use of a different name in 1878 must reasonably call into question whether his real name was Brocius, Graham, Bresnaham, or some other name.
The State of Texas vs. Robert Martin et al (1878)
Curly Bill was arrested a few days following an attack on a Government Ambulance in May 1878. According to newspaper accounts, two men had attack the ambulance which was guarded by two soldiers and lead by one Lt. Butler. Other accounts later claimed that one man had died and that the other was seriously wounded. The only man identified initially was the notorious Robert Martin, an associate of John Kinney. Kinney was noted as the King of the Rustlers in New Mexico. The other man was indentified only as Curly. Later reports used the nickname Curly Bill.
The two men were captured by Mexican authorities, who handed the men over to Military officials after being paid a reward. Robert Martin and William "Curly Bill" Bresnaham were indicted for attempting to rob the coach. (Why they were not charged with murder is not yet known). They were later convicted and sentenced to 5 years inprisonment.
At some point the two men escaped from custody and appearently ended up in Arizona. Ironically, a man named Robert Martin was the first person officially indentified in 1880, as the leader of the cowboy gang in Arizona.
The discovery of Curly Bill's Texas indictment and conviction in 1878, is the first documented information concerning Curly Bill's activities prior to arriving in Tombstone. It also calls into question whether either Brocius or Graham were his true name. Moreover, it establishes a connection between Curly Bill and Robert Martin, one of the men involved with John Kinney and possibly Jessie Evans in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Considering the possibility that Curly Bill was in the habit of using aliases, his further involvement in the Lincoln County War may be shielded by his use of different names at that time.
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