Saturday, July 26, 2014

Outlaws Kill Gus Gibbons & Frank LeSueur

On Monday, March 26, 1900 the mail carrier traveling between St. Johns and Springerville saw five men killing a beef.  When he got to Springerville, he reported it to Sheriff Beeler, who happened to be in Springerville that evening.  The Sheriff pulled together a posse and headed after them.

The thieves had spent the night camped about 3 miles north of St. Johns, and when the posse caught up to them a gunfight ensued as the outlaws fled with the posse in pursuit.   The sheriff had left word for his deputy to organize a second posse to come and help them.  This second posse headed north to help out, and included the men who would never return:  Andrew A. (Gus) Gibbons and Frank LeSueur.

Andrew "Gus" Gibbons & Frank LeSueur
The second posse headed out of town, but meanwhile the horses in the Sheriff's posse got run-down and they turned back to St. Johns.  Unbeknownst to each other, the two posses passed each other, but were too far apart to realize what had happened.  The second posse with Gibbons & LeSueur continued on, following the tracks, all of the time thinking the Sheriff's posse was still ahead of them and needing their help.

As evening approached several other members of the posse decided to rest up for the night at a sheepherder's camp, but Gus and Frank unfortunately decided to continue the pursuit.  It was late in the afternoon when the two approached a rock bluff unaware of the fact that the outlaws were hiding at the top.  As they slowly made their way up the steep, rocky trail they were ambushed!  After killing both of the young men, the outlaws disfigured them by continuing to shoot them at point-blank range in the face/head.  They then stole their horses and belongings, leaving the lifeless bodies bleeding in the desolate place.

They were found the next day by a 3rd posse who had been organized by Gus' brother Richard Gibbons.  Being fine, upstanding young men, they were mourned by all.

Here is an excerpt from the Diary of Dick Gibbons that describes the scene they came upon:

"When we were about a half a mile away from it the ground over which we were traveling was a red clay formation and was all cut up by ruts and little washes and all of them ran toward the main wash. The country faced the northeast and when we came to where we could see the different object in the badlands, I saw an object on the steep hillside that startled me. It looked like the body of a man, but I would not admit it to myself. It was still too far away to be able to identify it and while I was thinking about it I saw another object that looked like a quilt had been thrown away by the outlaws and had been rolled up by the wind and lodged in the wash where it now laid, but as we drew nearer, I saw that it was the body of a man, and upon closer inspection, I recognized it as the body of my nephew, Gus Gibbons. It was lying in the bottom of a little draw with head down hill and face upwards, with three ghastly bullet holes through the head. One of them had entered his mouth and had come out the back of his neck, one had gone in at the left ear and come out below the mouth, breaking the lower jaw and disfigured the face awfully. In addition to these, he had several wounds in the body that we did not examine at the time.

We well knew what the other object was that we had noticed lying on the hillside. The sight was horrifying to the senses. To see the two boys lying there, boys I had known since they were in the cradle and had watched grow up. They were just in the pink of manhood and for them to be ambushed and shot down like dogs, without even a chance to fight for their lives, made me sick. It was murder in its worst form and there is not another crime beneath the roof of heaven that can stain the soul of man with a more infernal hue than an assassination such as this. They have out- villained villainy so far that the rarity of their crime almost redeems them. As soon as we had time to recover from the shock, we took steps to take care of the bodies. Will Gibbons, brother to Gus, and I stayed with the bodies while the rest returned to St. Johns and Will Sherwood was to come back later with a team."




  1. Thanks for posting this. My Grandfather told us this story

  2. This is an important story in our family history. My grandmother was Gus Gibbons' sister. The spiritual struggles and sweet experiences of the family thereafter were singular indeed.