George Coe (Lincoln County War)

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George W. Coe in 1934 displaying his missing finger

George Washington Coe (1856–1941) was an Old West cowboy and for a time gunman alongside Billy the Kid during the Lincoln County War.

Coe was born in Missouri, and ventured to New Mexico Territory in his youth, around 1871, alongside his cousin, Frank, to work on a ranch near Fort Stanton belonging to a cousin, and for a time during this period they lived near Raton, New Mexico. The two often rode in pursuit of cattle rustlers and horse thieves, dealing with them harshly. On July 18, 1876, he and Frank Coe, accompanied by Doc Scurlock, Charlie Bowdre and Ab Saunders forced their way into the weak Lincoln jail and freed horse thief Jesus Largo from Sheriff Saturnino Baca. After leaving Lincoln with Largo, they lynched him. By 1878 he had leased his own land to begin a ranch, during which time he and his cousin continued to find themselves battling rustlers, but now in defense of their own land.[citation needed]

George Coe found himself dragged into the Lincoln County War by way of his own unjust arrest by county Sheriff William J. Brady. Coe and his cousin would join the Lincoln County Regulators, riding with Billy the Kid, and facing off against the "Murphy-Dolan Faction" and their supporters, to include members of the Jesse Evans Gang and the John Kinney Gang. Coe figured prominently into the events of the final Battle of Lincoln between the two factions, and was eventually arrested for the murder of Buckshot Roberts, a shootout which became known as the Gunfight of Blazer's Mills, and in which he lost a finger.[citation needed]

Coe shot and wounded Seven Rivers Warriors gang member "Dutch Charlie" Kruling in Lincoln on the morning of April 30, 1878, a day after Seven Rivers members had shot and killed the new Regulator leader Frank McNab, along with wounding Regulator Ab Saunders and capturing Coe's cousin Frank Coe. Frank escaped shortly thereafter. Coe eventually obtained amnesty from Governor Lew Wallace, and moved to both Nebraska and Colorado before returning to Lincoln County in 1884, where he started the "Golden Glow Ranch", and became a prosperous and respected member of the community. He later authored his autobiography, titled Frontier Fighter, detailing his association with the Regulators and giving details of certain members' traits and personalities.[citation needed]

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