Whatever Happened to Ike Clanton?

Ike Clanton
Ike Clanton survived the infamous shootout at the OK Corral.

Do you ever get to wondering whatever happened to Ike Clanton? He survived the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral, but then where’d he go?

Well, he died anyway. Fatally wounded in a different shootout.

After leaving Tombstone when the smoke from the OK Corral incident had cleared, Ike and his brother Phineas moved up north and began ranching in Graham County. But he became involved in such things as illegal cattle appropriation (rustling) and more gunplay. Eventually, he was shot and killed by a private investigator. Few mourned his death. A local newspaper summarized it like this:

Thus ended the wild career of poor, deluded, misguided Ike Clanton. He sowed to the wind and has harvested the whirlwind, and his harvest is gathered into a narrow house, six feet by two, and the panther, wolf and bear growl a fitting requiem over his grave. His end was typical of his life — swift, rough and the hardest that could be the fate of any mortal man. Let us hope it is for the best.


  1. says

    We are fascinated with the Clanton’s and go out to the ruins of their old ranch quite often. I don’t personally think they were as bad as history has made them out to be and in fact, it’s very likely that there was a power struggle between the Clanton’s and the Earp’s. The gunfight didn’t even happen the way most think it did.
    We believe we have communicated with Old Man Clanton a few times. Here is one of our EVP’s from a visit out there with just two of us.


    • JJ Andrews says

      History has been both brutal as well as downright un-historically light on Ike Clanton and his family. He came from a family of Cattle Rustlers and thieves. Did you know that he deposited 3200.00 dollars in the bank in Tombstone in the span of thirty days from October 2nd 1881 to Nov 2, 1881 before and after the Fight at the O.K. Corral. 1400 dollars under his name and 1800 dollars under his 19 year old brothers name? How much money was stolen from the stage that he accused Doc Holliday of robbing? He was not murdered as is suggested in the story above, but was actually shot by a deputy sheriff while in the commission of a theft. The family was bad. No two ways about it. His father and other siblings lost their life in New Mexico while stealing Mexican Cattle and bringing it back across the border. Johnny Ringo committed suicide because his friends were all dead and his family in California refused to take him back into the family because of his criminal lifestyle. I would not make the Clanton’s out to be saints here.

    • Bob Kirkwood says

      You got to be kidding , Ike Clanton was an outlaw, and murdersr. Do a little research I do my research at the local libary and the internet. He was a drunken coward.

  2. Sandra s says

    I was wondering whether the private investigator was prosecuted for killing Ike Clanton and whether anyone knows the story of why the private investigator did it.

  3. SaraD says

    The P.I. was J.V. Brighton, either an Apache Country Sheriff’s deputy or in the company of one at the time. I can’t find reference to it at the moment, but I seem to remember seeing him described as a “mail-order detective”.

    Ike and Brighton were not strangers. In 1886, about a year prior to his death, Ike shot a man in a saloon fight and promptly took the other man’s gun to Brighton. You can read the testimony both Brighton and Clanton gave at the resulting court hearing here:


    In “Reminiscences” (Arizona Historical Review, April, 1932) J.T. (Joe) “Mac” McKinney, who was an Apache County deputy sheriff under Commodore Perry Owens, talked about a day when he made his first arrest. It was in relation to an unrelated incident.

    “I met several men of note in Springerville that day. Among the number were Phineas (Phin) Clanton and Ike Clanton of Tombstone fame. I also met J.V. Brighton…. It is useless for me to try to mention the names of the hard men that were about the country in those days. I must say in justice to the Clantons that they were affable men, and if I was hunting for hard men I would never pick them.”

    C.P. Owens took office as Apache County Sheriff in January of 1887, having been elected in the election of November 1886. McKinney’s meeting “men of note in Springerville” would have been shortly after that, not long before Ike’s death in May of that year.

    “‘Ike’ Clanton was killed by lawmen on Bonita Creek, near Fort Grant, in 1887.” [Cites: Lorenzo Walters, Tombstone’s Yesterdays, 1928; Odie B. Faulk, Tombstone, 1972]. (Goff, John S., ARIZONA BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.)

  4. SaraD says

    Of course, as soon as I posted the above, I found what I had been looking for:

    “Wyatt Earp had allowed Ike to run away from the 1881 street fight in Tombstone, but J.V. Brighton, an Apache County deputy sheriff, wasn’t that charitable. Brighton, a correspondence school detective, caught up with Ike on Big Bonita Creek and sought to talk to him about some stolen cattle. Ike tried, once again, to run for it but Brighton’s bullet scored a bull’s-eye.” (Kearney Egerton, “The fascinating fourteen… Arizona counties” series, Arizona Republic, July 2, 1972.)

  5. Dennis Knill says

    Often been to Tombstone over the years here in Arizona. On one visit, was discussing the street fight with one of the locals, who said, “Doc came up to Wyatt and said, ‘Why didn’t you kill Ike when you had the chance?’ And Wyatt replied, ‘Because he didn’t have a gun.'”

  6. Lucas Clanton says

    the only reason he survived the gunfight is because he had no gun and ran but his crimes caught up with him and repaid the price with bloodshed

  7. benjamin shuttlesworth says

    Ike was 41 when he died. He was trying to rob a bank when he was killed by the sherriff or deputy.

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