Burt Alvord

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Burt Alvord
Burt Alvord Arizona.jpg
Born 1867
Died After 1910
Nationality American
Occupation Deputy Sheriff and outlaw
Criminal charge Armed robbery

Burt Alvord (1867-after 1910), or Albert Alvord, was a lawman and later outlaw of the Old West. He began working as a deputy under Cochise County Sheriff John Slaughter in 1886, but he turned to train robbery about the beginning of the 20th century.

Early Life[edit]

Mugshot of Burt Alvord at the Yuma Territorial Prison in 1904.

Burt Alvord was born to Charles Alvord and his wife on September 11, 1867 in Plumas County, California.[1]His father, Charles, originally worked as a mechanic for mining companies and eventually came to hold the public offices such as constable and justice of the peace in several of the places that the family lived.[2] The family moved often throughout Burt’s childhood, following the mining business from boomtown to boomtown. In 1879 the family moved to and settled down in Tombstone, Arizona.[3] Alvord’s education was not formal, but he likely learned much from his father’s cases about local disputes.[4] He also spent much time working at the O.K. Corral where he got to know the townspeople very well.[5] Claims that Alvord witnessed the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral are unsubstantiated, though the outlaw events that Tombstone was famous for would have certainly made an impression on young Alvord.[6]

Law Enforcement Career[edit]

Despite Alvord’s reputation for frequenting saloons and participating in several bar altercations, Sheriff John Slaughter recruited Alvord as a deputy in 1886. In the same year, Alvord’s mother died. Alvord primarily served as the muscle behind operations, as he made several decisions which revealed his lack of experience and finesse in the profession of law enforcement. He was reportedly “not noble, temperate, far seeing, of unselfish”.[7] However, he assisted in the capture and or killing of several rustlers and outlaws between 1886 and 1889. His reputation began to suffer as his alcoholism became apparent. Alvord continued to frequent saloons , and began to associate with gamblers and even outlaws. When Sheriff Slaughter reprimanded him, he quit.

Alvord worked as a lawman in several towns in the 1890s, including Fairbank, Arizona and Pearce, Arizona.

In 1896, Alvord moved to Cochise County, where he married Lola Ochoa, bought a ranch, and once again served as a sheriff’s deputy.[8] Things seemed to take a turn for the worse when Alvord’s father, Charles, died in 1898.[9] In late December of 1899, Alvord suddenly and inexplicably resigned his post of deputy sheriff.[10]

Outlawry and Last Years[edit]

Almost immediately, Alvord turned to crime and joined outlaws Billy Stiles and "Three Fingered Jack" Dunlop, men that he had pursued during his career as a lawman. Together, they committed several armed robberies in Cochise County, Arizona. Alvord and Stiles were captured in 1899, but they managed to escape. On February 15, 1900, Dunlop was killed by lawman Jeff Milton during a train robbery attempt in Fairbank, Arizona. Gang member Bravo Juan Yoas was wounded. Later that year, Alvord himself was captured and taken to Tombstone. Billy Stiles went to Tombstone and wounded the deputy on duty, allowing Alvord and 24 other prisoners to escape.

In 1902, Alvord assisted Arizona Rangers Captain Burton C. Mossman in capturing the Mexican bandit Augustine Chacon, in exchange for part of the reward money and a reduced sentence. Chacon was hung at Solomonville, but Alvord decided not to surrender after all.[11][12]

Alvord and Stiles returned to crime, now pursued by the Arizona Rangers. They were captured in December, 1903, but again managed to escape. Alvord decided to fake their own deaths using the bodies of two Mexicans. They sent the bodies to Tombstone, with the news that they had both been killed. However, an examination of the bodies showed it was not the wanted men.

The Arizona Rangers finally pursued them into Mexico, trapping them near Naco in February 1904. The outlaws resisted, but they were captured after they had been wounded. Alvord spent the next two years in Yuma prison. After his release, he sailed to South America. He was last seen in 1910 working as a canal employee. His last years are unknown.

In the media[edit]

In 1955, Alvord and Stiles were portrayed by Chris Drake and Paul Sorensen in an episode of the syndicated television series, Stories of the Century, starring Jim Davis.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chaput, pg. 17
  2. ^ Chaput, pg. 16-21
  3. ^ Chaput, pg. 21
  4. ^ Chaput, pg. 20, 25
  5. ^ Chaput, pg. 29
  6. ^ Chaput, pg. 25-6
  7. ^ Chaput, pg. 33-4
  8. ^ Chaput, pg. 48-9
  9. ^ Chaput, pg. 54
  10. ^ Chaput, pg. 57
  11. ^ Raine, pg. 74-77
  12. ^ Wilson, pg. 45
  13. ^ "Stories of the Century: "Burt Alvord", January 2, 1955". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  • Chaput, Donald (2000). Spawn Gone Wrong – The Odyssey of Burt Alvord: Lawman, Train Robber, Fugitive. Westernlore Press Co. 
  • Wilson, R. Michael (2005). Legal Executions in the Western Territories, 1847-1911: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4825-8. 
  • Raine, William MacLeod (1905). Pearson's magazine: Carrying Law into the Mesquite. Pearson Publishing Co. 
  • Sifakis, Carl. Encyclopedia of American Crime, New York, Facts on File Inc., 1982