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Arizona's Three Stooges

Updated on December 7, 2009

A few weeks before the American Civil War ended, the Langdon brothers returned home to Arizona. Though their names were not Larry, Curly and Moe, perhaps they should have been. Their antics really would have made The Three Stooges proud.

Bart Langdon, 27; was the oldest. He stood 6' 3' and weighed maybe 125 pounds, with his boots on....and with his Colt revolver. The only time he bothered to "bathe" was when he was caught outside in a rainstorm. Next was "Little" David, 26. He was the runt of the litter at only 5' 2", and rarely had anything to say. He did, though, have a powerful taste for whiskey. The youngest Langdon was Samuel, 22. He, like Bart, was tall at 6' 2", but probably weighed around 200 pounds. Except for the rather large wart on the end of his nose, Samuel was a nice looking young man. None of them favored one another in any regard, which led to considerable local speculation amongst the townsfolk. But that's another story.

Our heroes were not among the brightest of people....oh, let's face it, these three morons were all dumber than a box of rocks. Altogether, they commanded three years of formal education....Bart - 0, "Little" David - 1, and Samuel - 2. What they lacked in book learning was actually overshadowed by their complete absence of walking around sense. Bart would have loved the book Everything I Ever Needed To Know I learned In Kindergarten; not the content, just the title. He certainly wouldn't have been able to read it.

The Langdon boys left Nogales, Arizona several months previously to fight in the war, which they thought was between the United States and Canada. This patriotic notion to fight was instilled in them by Abner Hanks, a gambler and Last Sunset Saloon regular patron. He bet five men $10 each one night he could talk the Langdons into leaving town by briefly talking to Bart. He won the bet, but he never disclosed his exact words. Rumor has it, that Abner suggested to Bart that the winning side was allowed to keep everything they could steal...including the women. Naturally, this was a strong motivation to Bart and his band of misfits.

Nearly everyone in town knew of the wager, but nobody cared to inform the Langdons that the information concerning Canada was incorrect. Every citizen was, ecstatic, that the boys were leaving for awhile....hopefully for good. The Langdons were notorious for being rude, mean, obnoxious, and smelly. Not a single Nogales resident would miss them.

After traveling several weeks, the Langdons came across a battalion of Union soldiers and immediately enlisted. Upon learning the war was actually between the North and the South, the boys were sincerely disappointed, but brightened up when informed they could shoot people. As it turned out, the Langdons fought for both sides, depending on who was winning any given battle at the moment. Several months later, Bart decided one day he was bored with war, rounded up Samuel and "Little" David, and they returned to Arizona. They came back without a scratch, but just as dim-witted.

Somewhere in New Mexico, they stopped to rest their horses (two of which were stolen). While sitting under a shade tree eating beans, (No, we won't go there!) Bart made the decision they would go to Mexico and start a cattle ranch. Though none of them had experience with cattle ranching (Bart was badly gored one time while trying to steal a bull. But that's another story.), neither Samuel nor "Little" David questioned this wisdom. Samuel did eventually inquire as to how they were supposed to pay for land and cows. The look on Bart's face was unmistakable...he had not considered that aspect of his scheme.

Bart's brain was now working so furiously, the flies stopped swarming around his head. And "Little" David would have sworn he saw a puff smoke come from one of Bart's ears, but he remained usual. He finished off his last swallow of cheap whiskey and threw the bottle at a lizard. He missed. The lizard attacked.

Eventually, Bart announced, "We kin git all tha loot we need by robbin' the Cattlemen's Bank in Nogales."


An hour or so passed, when suddenly and quite unusual for Samuel, he had an intelligent thought. Speaking in a low voice, he uttered, "They knows us in Nogales, Bart. We can't no way git away with it thar."

Silence. But the flies had begun to swarm around Bart once more. A few fell dead around him.

Bart suggested, "Alright, we'll jest havta rob that thar bank over in Bisbee. Ain't nobody over thar what knows us."

After much head nodding, big toothless grins, and some tobacco juice spitting, the Landon Brothers Cattle Ranching/Bank Robbing Summit was concluded. They bedded down for the night. "Little" David kept one eye open for lizards.

The boys rode into Bisbee around noon, two days later on a Tuesday. Though "Little" David was in need of a shot of whiskey, the Langdons rode past the saloons and went straight to the Bisbee National Bank. Their plan was in place and they commenced to carry it out. "Little" David held the horses while Bart and Samuel entered the bank.

"Don't nobody move! This is a holdup!", shouted Bart. Other than a sleepy bank teller reading the newspaper, there wasn't anyone else in the building. So far, so good. Pointing his pistol at the now wide-eyed, petrified teller, Bart yelled, "Gimme all tha money, or ah swear ah'll kill 'ya! Cover me Samuel."

Samuel drew his pistol....well, almost. In his excitement, he jerked it too fast and it hung on the hammer guard of his holster. This momentarily confused him....yes, even more so than usual. Samuel yanked again hard and as the pistol came out, his finger was on the trigger, and the Colt deafeningly discharged. The bullet ricocheted off the teller's iron cage, against the hard oak floor, hit the front door steel hinge, and slammed into Bart's butt. Far from being mortally wounded, Bart screeched and cursed as if he were dying, and hopped about for a few seconds while emptying his own pistol with wild, thunderous shots in every direction. One .45 slug punched into Samuel's right knee, dropping him to the old oak floor like a stone. Yelping in pain, he too thought he was about to die and started crying and praying. The unfortunate teller collapsed to the floor also. Nah, he wasn't hit....he only fainted. Anguished howling and cursing and sobbing and praying and gun smoke filled the bank.

Meanwhile....outside, "Little" David upon hearing all the commotion and shooting, decided to make a run for it, leaving his brothers to face whatever ugly misfortune was transpiring inside the bank. He spurred his horse into a dead run, but somehow disregarded he was tightly holding the reins of the other two horses. They balked, thus extracting "Little" David from his saddle....almost. His left foot was caught in the stirrup. His horse, "Betsy", never missed a running step as she was dragging poor "Little" David, thrashing and screaming, down Main Street and out of town. To "Little" David's credit, he did hold on to the reins of Bart's and Samuel's horses as he departed Bisbee in a dusty cloud of pitiful wailing.

Bart helped Samuel out of the bank....he was more than a little angrily flabbergasted upon realizing the horses were missing, and started another tirade of profanity that is still talked about to this day in Bisbee. Nearby, two horses were tied up in front of the Copper Town Saloon. Bart and Samuel borrowed them and rode fast out of town in the opposite direction as "Little" David.

Along about sunset the next day, "Betsy" came strolling down Main "Little" David to be seen. However, his left boot was still in the stirrup. The other two horses did not return. But that's another story.

Copyright 1998 Dwain Lamon


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