I've posted a reply or two here and there and at least one question, but I am remiss in that I have neglected to introduce myself.
My name is Wayne H. Sanderson. I am 51 and a native of New Jersey. For the most part my family has been in the Trenton, New Jersey area since before the American Revolution, and I am proud to say that some of my ancestors fought in that conflict. One, Anthony Ashmore, was an artilleryman from Trenton who manned a gun just down the road from the place wherein I write this, at the Monmouth battlefield in Freehold, NJ. I am honored and fortunate to have traced ancestors who also fought in the Civil War (AKA The War of the Rebellion, the War Between the States, the "Late Unpleasantness" and several other names!) It was my embarkation into a study of my own family history that turned me into a workmanlike researcher, a skill set that I've turned to other uses in retirement.
For over 25 years I was a working peace officer. I was a correctional officer with the New Jersey Department of Corrections. (NJ is one of a hand full of States where State Correction Officers are sworn peace officers with full powers of arrest- powers which in NJ are virtually identical to those of a State Trooper) In my 25 years of service I rose to the rank of Major and I was a commanding officer at New Jersey State Prison at Trenton, a demanding but always challenging and usually interesting job. In my years of service I did many things, from fighting fires to supervising arrests, fighting riots and every job in between, dirty and not. It wasn't all muscle work, either. I ran investigations, dealt with the press, the public and the families of staff and inmates in some pretty rough situations. I buried more than one friend and co-worker, and I also saw many good young people come along and watched them grow into the job. In my 25 years I became adept at dealing with criminals, cheats and liars on a daily basis, and my years of experience made me an intensely suspicious listener and investigator.
N.J. State Prison is a fascinating edifice with sections that range in origin from the newest, circa 1981 to the remaining building from the original N.J. Penitentiary which opened in 1798. The place saw John Adams and Alexander Hamilton in the 1790's when Trenton was the summer capital, it was a witness and a boon to the young men of New Jersey who mustered at Camp Perrine in Trenton in preparation for their journey to southern battlefields from 1861 to 1865, It was the place where Bruno Hauptmann was electrocuted in 1936 for the murder of the Lindbergh Baby, and there were many lesser known facts that almost nobody knows.
There is very old legend at the State Prison, handed down for a century or more to the effect that, one night in the 1870's or 1880's, the Army and some Indian Bureau men showed up at the prison and deposited one or more captive Chiefs of defeated western tribes in the prison for the night. It seems that they were touring the big cities of the Northeast with conquered Chiefs, and they stopped off in Trenton overnight. It's plausible- The prison has had an agreement in force with the Federal Government to house United States Prisoners since the doors opened in 1798, and Indian prisoners of war were definitely United States Prisoners. (I've been looking into this for a few years- The old Indian Affairs collections at the National Archives haven't yet given up this secret, but they may yet! My suspicion is that it might have been Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, but that's just a guess)
I know a good deal of the history of that place and the service I was a part of because, in addition to my duties as a commanding officer on a day-to-day basis, for several years I've also functioned as the volunteer historian for the NJDOC. Since 2011 I have intensively researched the people, places and events of the service of which I am proud to have been a part. I managed to track down and document 14 Officers from my own service who died in the line of duty over the years and were forgotten. I've seen to it that these forgotten men were honored and placed on the NJDOC Memorial in Trenton and on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. At the present time I am the keeper of the past of my service. My collection of old departmental badges from New Jersey's prisons and reformatories from years past is the best one that I know of, and it is destined to be the nucleus of a museum dedicated to the old State Prison Deputies, Reformatory Keepers and the later Correction Officers of NJ. I also turn up from time to time in period dress- My Deputy Keeper impressions from the 1880's to 1910 are a big hit at DOC functions and the NJ Living History Fair- The big 5 point star on my blue wool uniform coat screams Lawman from a mile away, and then the Springfield Trapdoor rifle raises questions, which I love to answer.
All of the above is by way of introduction and not offered as a means of boasting. I mention it to provide background and a bonafides. The point is, all of my family history work, the research into the history of my old department and my work of several years tracking down forgotten Fallen Officers of my own and other law enforcement agencies turned me into a proficient finder of forgotten people. Turns out, that same skill set works well when you go looking for people who WANTED to be forgotten.
When I retired in the summer of 2015 and I tucked my last badge into the display cabinet alongside the many others from a century of history before mine, I turned my research and investigatory skills to historical research and writing. I'd already published a piece or two on NJ prison history based on my research that were well received. When I retired I took a well needed break from all-things prison, including the prison history research and embarked in Old West research, long a love of mine for which I had little or no time to pursue.
My fascination for Tombstone in the 1880's led me to read everything current that I could get my hands on. Eventually I became interested in some of the lesser known characters in town. The one I was most interested in was Milton E. Joyce. I turned my skills to looking into Joyce and quickly discovered two things- If you want to write anything about Joyce you are in for a pretty hard pull, because there just isn't a documented past for the man before about 1867, and the other thing I learned was that you can't look at or write about Milt Joyce without also looking at and writing about Nashville Franklyn Leslie, his long time business partner.
As I looked at the two men I found myself looking ever more critically at Leslie. Leslie is a pretty tough nut to crack due to the level of falsehood and reputation-building that the man engaged in from the summer of 1880 onward.
That was where I found myself in the summer of 2015. By the end of the summer of 2016 I had managed to positively identify Leslie from U.S. Government records at the national Archives. I had a hunch about Leslie that paid off when I opened the real man's Civil War service and pension records at NARA in DC this summer. The man who servied in the Union Army who's service and pension records I was examining matches Leslie right down the line- Handwriting is a match, the Pension Dept. surgeons who examined the veteran documented the gunshot scars on his head, one on the scalp, the other on the left forehead that Leslie sustained from Mike killeen in Tombstone in 1880. The veteran dictated a 13 page deposition describing his life story including his movements in the West which, interestingly, skirt Arizona in the 1880's completely and offer no other explanation of his whereabouts. He gave information that corroborates certain facts that time him to the Leslie identity, including Leslie's whereabouts when May divorced him in 1887- He was elsewhere living under his real name, probably trying to dodge the divorce papers (it didn't work) and it's documented in US Government files. The veteran also gave the names of some people that the pension people could check with, one of whom was David Butler Neagle, with whom Leslie rode as a Cochise County Deputy and who he knew ell. The veteran stated that he knew Neagle well but didn't say from where. Lastly, a parallel timeline of the two men using credible sources such as Census and other government documents reveals that where you find Leslie, the veteran is nowhere to be found, and vice versa.
I've uncovered quite a bit. The story became so wide ranging and exciting that I was compelled to scrap my plan to write it up as a magazine article and roll right into a book project. It's just too big. (I had to put another book project on hold to work on this)
So that is my introduction, a bit long winded but I felt it was necessary. As The New Guy I expect that some of you may hold back and wait to see what I'm about. That's understandable. I'm hoping to convince the knowledgeable folks here that I'm not some clown who read a book and now spouts off as a self appointed expert. I'm not an expert on ANYTHING in Tombstone, and I'll not ever claim to be. I am a Leslie researcher, however, and I'm somewhat well up on him, so ask me anything. Anything except his real identity and any crucial facts that might give that away prematurely- That tidbit I am reserving until the manuscript is in the hands of the publisher and I'm safe to talk about it. I have good reasons to withhold that information, which will become clear in time.
Nashville Franklyn Leslie (whoever that is) gave his birth date as 18 March 1842, and said he joined the Confederate Army in Texas, at a place not very far from where I live. Although he said that he ... more
In short, yes. Leslie had three very good reasons to maintain the charade all the way through. He went West at the end of the 1860's after his involvement in an enterprise that, should the concerned... more
You're very welcome Kenny. Thanks for your interest. I hope to produce an informative and amusing book on Leslie that everyone will find enjoyable. Now if I can just write straight through- Every so... more
Thank you for the introduction! I am also new to BJ's, maybe a year and a half under my belt. A close friend of mine and fellow historian Jim Dunham had encouraged me over the past 3 years to join... more
Don't I know it! I've been reading here off and on for a long time. I thought that the subject of Billy the Kid was contentious- If there's anything I stay farther away from than BTK any time after... more
Yes, that one too- I've heard a number of titles by which the war was known, varying by degree in their sentiment and resentment, depending on the source... Not to mention the profanity content! I... more
....Lincoln's provocative actions of raising a 75,000 man invasion army pushed northern Virginia into succession. Sans Virginia and it's many excellent officers the confederacy would not have lasted... more
There were a host of errors and missteps. Had Buchanan dealt decisively with the hotheads in South Carolina rather than just sit in front of the fire sipping sherry in DC and leaving the whole mess... more
Lincoln's provocative timing is what pushed Virginia's citizens into voting for succession. The people of northern Virginia especially were going to be on the front line of Lincoln's 75,000 man... more
Yes, I agree- The timing couldn't have been worse for Lincoln's call for Militia from the States. I've always wondered whether someone was whispering in his ear, telling him that the April 4, 1861... more
there was a strong Pro Confederacy element in Arizona, and still is to this day. I will always remember my first trip to Tombstone. I felt like a kid on Christmas eve. As I exited I-10 at Benson, we... more
"Political Correctness." Makes me want to vomit. Educators tell me that slowly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are being removed from the school books. I estimate that in 20 years, the only... more
That's a wonderful thing that you two have been doing. I imagine that it's gotten easier and less costly since the VA changed their policy recently to allow interested organizations and private... more
Yup- The scope of the man's deception was broader than anybody knew, except for the few who knew his real name. There were a few who had to have known. From circumstantial evidence, I believe that... more
I certainly share your fascination with Frank Leslie. I also felt that I had made a couple of little discoveries about him in regards his relationship with Wells Fargo in 1881, i.e. Arizona/New... more
I have him right back to his birthday. After the war, he was in the East until about 1870. He claims in his pension deposition to have lived in Brooklyn until about 1870 before coming West. (But this ... more
That Frank Leslie might just be that OTHER Frank Leslie that was living in the SF Bay area in later years, working for the railroad. That man was also of an age with Buckskin and was also born in... more
I haven't really spent much time researching Leslie, so this may be a well known bit of info that I was not aware of, but I found this on Chronicling America today and thought it interesting. The... more
Kenny, Michael said he had "feeling" or "suspicion" that Leslie was buried at a particular cemetery and said its name. I never wrote it down, thinking I didn't need to because he said he would be... more
There was also a real Frank Leslie (Named Frank, not Nashville Franklyn) who was born in Texas after the Civil War and later did time in Huntsville. That man was not the Tombstone N.F. Leslie, as he... more
John Dean helped out at the Leslie ranch by watching the place sometimes when Leslie was away (Epitaph, 1885) and they associated in later years, so it wouldn't shock me. Haven't seen a deed or... more