Monday, March 28, 2011

William Kinsman


William Kinsman's cross in Tombstone's Boothill Graveyard - the year painted on the marker is incorrect

William Kinsman
Born: December 20, 1854 (Poldice Gwennap, Cornwall, England)
Died: February 23, 1883 (Tombstone, Pima County [now Cochise County], Arizona) - Gunshot
Interred: Febrary 25, 1883 -- Boothill Graveyard, Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona
Occupation: Miner

William was born in Cornwall to John and Catherine (nee Bray) Kinsman, and emigrated with his family to the United States at a young age. He worked as a miner in Virginia City, Nevada for a time before moving to Tombstone, Arizona where he again worked as a miner. I found two men named William Kinsman in Tombstone's 1880 census, both from England and both the correct approximate age. I am unsure which one was him, or if he possibly may have been counted twice. The first, enumerated on June 1, 1880, shows Kinsman living on his own as a boarder in a hotel.


1880 Census - Tombstone, Arizona showing William Kinsman (line 47) living in a hotel

The second, enumerated six days later, on June 7, 1880, shows Kinsman living with two men named John Kinsman, one older and one younger, presumably his father and brother. We know his parents also lived in Tombstone because his funeral notice says the funeral took place in their home at the corner of Seventh and Toughnut Streets, making this census entry plausible also. (But, where was his mother?)


1880 Census - Tombstone, Arizona showing William Kinsman (line 40) living with his father and younger brother

In early 1883 someone played a practical joke on Kinsman, publishing an ad in the Tombstone Epitaph announcing that he and a female acquaintance of his named May Woodman were planning to get married. Kinsman had no intention of marrying Woodman, and he stated so with a notice of his own, published in the following edition of the newspaper.

The public rejection infuriated Woodman and she confronted Kinsman on February 23 in front of the Oriental Saloon. A short argument ensued, ending abruptly when Woodman pulled a .38-caliber revolver and shot him in his left side. He fell to the ground as she tried to put a second bullet into him, but Chief of Police Coyle was quickly on the scene and her second shot hit the sidewalk as Coyle struck the gun from her grip. The second shot was unnecessary, anyway. Kinsman died approximately four hours later.


Tombstone's Allen Street, where the Oriental Saloon stood


The notice announcing William Kinsman's funeral

Woodman was arrested and tried for the murder. Her claim that she fired in self defense fell on deaf ears and the jury convicted her of manslaughter. Before she could be sentenced, she attempted to commit suicide. She had been complaining about having trouble sleeping, so Dr. Goodfellow prescribed a mild mixture of chloral hydrate and morphine. But, instead of taking the medication, Woodman was hoarding the daily doses until she had enough to be lethal, and she then took it all at once. Dr. Goodfellow was called and he managed to save her life.

During the course of the doctor's medical attentions with Woodman he discovered a couple surprising facts. She was pregnant, for one. And, he also said it was evident that someone had beaten her during the early stages of her pregnancy. Whether that someone was Kinsman or not was unknown. These facts were never brought up during her trial. Woodman eventually had a miscarriage while in jail awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing took place on May 22, 1883 when Judge Pinney struck down a motion for a new trial and sentenced her to prison for five years, the maximum sentence the law allowed him to give. Woodman was sent to the Territorial Prison in Yuma, Arizona where she was soon involved in yet another controversy. Toward the end of the year word came out that she was pregnant again, a feat that should have been impossible considering the fact that she was in solitary confinment in a women's prison where no men ever set foot. The Arizona Sentinel speculated in a late November 1883 article that this was most likely a false rumor.

Of course, this report was started simply to injure Captain Ingalls, the superintendent of the prison and has no foundation except in the imagination of some brute to whom a pure thought is an absolute stranger.

Whether the rumors of her supposed immaculate conception were true or not will never be known. Tired of the negative publicity, Arizona's acting Governor Van Arman offered Woodman a deal. He would pardon her and release her from prison if she would leave the Arizona territory and never come back. She agreed to the offer's terms and was released on March 15, 1884, disappearing west to California where she was never heard from again.

Sources:
Tombstone's Boothill by Ben T. Traywick (1994)
Essential Guide For Your Tour of the Original Boothill Graveyard - self guided tour pamphlet from the Boothill Graveyard gift shop
1880 Federal Census - Tombstone, Pima (now Cochise) County, Arizona
Tombstone Epitaph
The Arizona Sentinel
OneWorldTree on Ancestry.com

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