The Grafters Club

The Membership


Charles Ronan


Sam's stalwart assistant in the spring of 1882
was the veteran of a classic — pointless — gunfight.


Though Sam's tenure in Albuquerque was apparently unmarred by murder, there was a shooting the December before. A drunken miner named Eagan on a train, eager to shoot somebody, got off at the Albuquerque station, and promptly picked sporting man Charlie Ronan as his target.

Three shots later, Ronan, unscathed, fired back with a shot through Eagan's heart. Ronan was acquitted by Judge Sullivan.

"He then said, 'you don't want to say anything more on this platform or I'll give it to you,' and then after a moment he continued, 'I'll give it to you any way,' and suiting his action to the word he drew his revolver and fired. I jumped aside and pulled my pistol, and when he fired again I fired. He fell just as he fired the third shot. I never saw the man before and I don't think he ever saw me."

Ronan was already a veteran of the Battle of The Plaza, when he allegedly assisted Bat Masterson in a noted 1881 Dodge City street fight, a skirmish that lead to Ronan, Bat, his brother Jim and Tom O'Brien being told to get out of Dodge — and not to come back.

Charlie went on to become one of Sam's posse, noted as present at the Shootout on Railroad Av. and Griffin's Run.

Albuquerque Daily Journal, December 13, 1881

John Egan Comes to Albuquerque to Meet His Death.
The Tragic Ending of a Would-be Bad Man Last Night.
John Eagan boarded the Pacific express at Wallace last night with a ticket for Albuquerque. He was under the influence of liquor, and was continually making gun plays on the train. He picked a quarrel with a gentleman who was on his way to El Paso, and drew his revolver, but was kept from firing by a third person. He also attempted to shoot the brakeman, but without success. He was apparently bent upon shooting some one, and was not very particular about who it was.
When the train reached here he got off the car and started towards town. Suddenly three shots were fired,and then there came another. The platform at the depot was crowded with people, and although the shots were fired right in the crowd nobody knew who did the shooting. Eagan fell with a bullet through his heart, and died without uttering a word.
Who shot him was a mystery to all, and even those who stood right at the side of Egan when he fell could not give any rational account of the tragedy. A dozen stories were circulated as to how it was done. Judge Sullivan took charge of the body, and it was removed to Robbins & Torrey's undertakig shop. It was decided to postpone the inquest until to-day, and the crowd dispersed.
The JOURNAL reporter then commenced to make inquiries with a view to learning who it was that fired the fatal shot. After considerable rustling he discovered that Charles Ronan was the man. He made the following statement as to the manner in which it occurred:
"Scott Moore and myself were walking through the train when I remarked to him 'the whole gang is in there.' A man who was sitting near heard the remark and followed me to the door, and said, 'are you one of those fellows looking for the hold-ups?' and I told him I was not, that I was merely talking to my friend in the train. By this time we had reached the platform. He then said, 'you don't want to say anything more on this platform or I'll give it to you,' and then after a moment he continued, 'I'll give it to you any way,' and suiting his action to the word he drew his revolver and fired. I jumped aside and pulled my pistol, and when he fired again I fired. He fell just as he fired the third shot. I never saw the man before and I don't think he ever saw me."
Ronan turned himself over to the officers and is now in their custody. He will have a hearing this morning at 9 o'clock.
The reporter now made it his business to learn something of Eagan. [Start with how how to spell his name.] The only man who knew anything about him suddenly disappeared after the killing, but he was finally found in room thirteen at the Hotel Maden, where he had retired for the night. The newspaper man was admitted to the room and learned that his name was Henry Kehoe, and that he was a chum of John Eagan. He and Eagan are miners, and have recently been employed by Cañon del Agua company at San Pedro. Kehoe knows nothing whatever of the circumstances of the shooting. He said that Eagan was a quiet, inoffensive man when he was sober, but that he had been drinking hard that day and was very drunk when he went on the cars. He did not see any of Eagan's movements on the train, as he was in another coach. Of the history of the dead man comparatively little could be learned. He came west in 1861 and has parents living somewhere in Illinois. He belongs to the order of the Odd Fellows. Kehoe has sixty-four dollars belonging to Eagan, and will see that he has a decent burial.
Charlie Ronan has always borne a good character in this community, and there is not the slightest doubt that he was justified in his act.


Albuquerque Daily Journal, December 14, 1881

Charlie Ronan had his examination in Judge Sullivan's court yesterday morning, and was discharged, as the evidence showed that he acted in self-defense.


Albuquerque Daily Journal, December 15, 1881

Charlie Ronan, who killed John Eagan Monday night, was formerly of Leavenworth, Kansas. He came west to Dodge City seven or eight years ago, and then drifted into New Mexico. He is chiefly noted in New Mexico as a remarkably good billiard player.

The Chinaman who runs the hop joint guards his place every night with a double-barreled shot-gun. It is not safe for anyone to attempt any harm to the establishment, if he does not desire to be perforated with buck shot.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, March 8, 1882

They are Nipped For Once and Will be made to Suffer the Penalty of Their Foolishness.
Monday night J.M. Lewis and C.W. Soper, two mixologists, went out for the purpose of having a little fun. Their idea of fun seemed to be to fill up their skins with bad whisky and fire their revolvers in the air just for the fun of hearing the report. Marshal Blonger heard the reports and deputizing L. H. Blonger and Charlie Ronan went in pursuit of the men. They followed them, braving the heavy wind and sand which filled their eyes and faces, to their room, in an adobe building in the northwest suburbs of the city. As soon as the officers came up to the house the two "funny" men commenced firing at them through the window and the officers returned the fire, at the same time getting at a safe distance from the improvised fort. As soon as they retreated the two fellows rushed out, uttering the nearest they could to Apache war whoops, and firing their guns at Marshal Blonger's party, who returned the fire. Soper and Lewis escaped under cover of the storm and darkness, but they were arrested yesterday, and brought before Judge Sullivan who placed them under bonds of one thousand dollars each to appear for examination this morning. This promiscuous shooting and spreeing lawlessness will have to be stopped and these fellows will receive a just punishment.


Albuquerque Evening Review, April 4, 1882

A Fleeing Debtor Finds Three Pistols too Few to Escape Arrest.
Last night, on the arrival of the Atlantic & Pacific train in this city, marshal Blonger was approached by M. Heise, of Las Vegas, who told him that W. T. Griffin, who had been running a dance hall at Winslow, had been on the train and had jumped off at the A. & P. offices. Taking this unusual stopping place into consideration with the fact that Griffin owed several large bills to wholesale liquor firms, among them one of about $300 to the firm of M. Heise and another of over $400 to the firm of Santiago Baca, of this city, that he had closed up his dance hall and shipped his goods by the same train to Colorado, Texas, and that his wife was on board the train bound for the south, the creditor presumed that the quondam saloon man's intention was to defraud him and others who had confided in his honesty, and accordingly called upon Blonger to stop the fugitive and his goods. Only a few minutes was there to work in, and Blonger made the best use of the time. Procuring a garnishee upon the Wells Fargo company, the goods belonging to Griffin were secured, and the next step was to catch their owner.
Ernest Myers, of Santiago Baca's, Lou Blonger, Dan Sullivan and Charley Ronan were pressed into service as a posse and the five jumped on the outgoing Santa Fe train, arranging with the conductor to stop at the A. & P. offices, while a sharp look out was kept for Griffin, who was expected to make an attempt to board the train there. Griffin fell into the trap and as the cars passed the coal chutes at the A. & P. yards, he ran out from his concealment and leaped on the platform between the express and baggage cars. He was seen by the posse, and the train was immediately stopped, the posse running up on Griffin from both sides of the car. It appears that he had anticipated pursuit, for he sat on the platform prepared to stand off twenty men, as he thought, two six-shooters resting on his lap, another is his hand, none of which he had a change to use. As soon as Blonger saw him he was covered with the marshal's six-shooter while the rest of the posse secured and disarmed him. Griffin was then taken to the east end jail and afterwards removed to the west end pen where he remained all night.


Albuquerque Evening Review, April 5, 1882

W. T. Griffin, the well-heeled man, has settled up with his creditors, Santiago Baca and M. Heise, and has been released from custody. As was expected, his spouse returned yesterday with the funds of the concern.


Albuquerque Morning Journal, April 6, 1882

Murphy and Jones, who were arrested for the attempt to shoot Marshal Blonger, were each fined $50, which they have paid.

Albuquerque Evening Review, April 6, 1882

The Journal makes a mistake in this morning's account of the release of Jones and Murphy from their bonds. Jones was fined $50 for the offence with which he was charged, but Murphy was released without fine. The latter makes a damaging statement concerning the officers by whom he was arrested, to the effect that while he was in their custody he was relieved of nearly $20, by whom he does not know.