I have the sad duty of informing you of the death of Turner Brown.
The body of Turner Brown was found in a rocking chair at Brown's cabin in the Big Horn Mountains by the Johnson County (Wyoming) sheriff's deputy Captain Jake French, who was in the habit of stopping by the cabin to check on Brown.
I was told that Captain French found Brown early on the morning of April Twenty-Fifth.
The Johnson County (Wyoming) Coroner and Buffalo, Wyoming funeral home director, David Harness, established that Brown died of a 'massive heart attack' (what Harness listed on the death certificate as a myocardial infarction). The best guess is that Brown suffered the heart attack while he sat in a rocking chair on his cabin's veranda shortly after he ate dinner on the Twenty-Fourth.
The funeral service was held May Third at the Harness Funeral home on North Adams Street in Buffalo with burial immediately following at the Willow Grove Cemetery in Buffalo.
For those who might not have been able to attend the funeral or visitation, there were more than two hundred mourners at the cemetery after almost a thousand people paid their 'final respects' to Brown as the old cowboy and his highly polished Australian rosewood coffin were on display (lain in state) in the restored barbershop at the Occidental Hotel.
Turner Brown had initially negotiated in 1944 with the owners of the Occidental Hotel for a 'wake' to be held in the hotel lobby. But new hotel owners, objecting to the prospect of a dead man on the premises, reopened negotiations with Brown in 2010 and eventually compromised, moving the body and the coffin to the restored barbershop at the Occidental.
Brown's one son, Miguel, was adopted. Miguel was the child of Margarita Marrón, the cook at Albuquerque's La Placita Hotel when Brown, then a Deputy U.S. Marshal, was a resident of the hotel in 1868.
Brown was preceded in death by his son Miguel 1860-1906), daughter-in-law Sun Lee (1864-1906), granddaughters Camille (1886-1906) and Agnes Marie (1882-1964), grandson Turner Roscoe (1880-1974) and Great grandsons Turner (1920-1984) and Russell Brown Hotchkiss (1900-1929).
Miguel Brown Marrón, his wife and their daughter, Camille, died in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Agnes Marie and Turner Roscoe died of heart failure in their sleep in their 90s. Great grandson Turner was shot and killed while working as a private detective in New York City. Great grandson and stockbroker Russell died of heart failure during the height of the Wall Street collapse.
Ten great grandchildren, and thirty great-great children survive Brown.
I was personally pleased the Brown had read the first draft of the latest Tuner Brown Western (He believed that the book, The End of the Trail, hadn't truly captured the heat that blanketed Custer's Last Stand and didn't believe that the book truly presented the fearsome nature of Quenatosavit, the Comanche who instigated the Red River War, "The scariest Indian I ever met.") Brown also wrote a couple of his 'Thoughts From Turner Brown' columns, which you'll see over the next couple of months. One column deals with Quenatosavit while the other deals with George Armstrong Custer, one of Brown's favorite topics of discussion.
The last time that I spent any extended time with Turner Brown was as we watched the 2013 version of the Lone Ranger was at the Buffalo Theater in Buffalo, Wyoming. Brown said that he knew the redheaded whore with the ivory leg and that he recognized the locations, but that there were never any Texas Rangers like Dan Reid or his brother, John. ("None of them were ever half that brave.... or half that pure")
After the movie, over a cup of coffee at the Occidental Hotel, Brown recalled he scene where Dan Reid stood on the saddle of his running horse to leap onto a moving train. He dismissed the leap saying that he was the only man who could do such a thing. Brown said that he had done it only twice and that there was never a Texas Ranger alive who would have tried such a dangerous stunt, preferring to wait in a comfortable saloon until someone else solved a particular crime or brought an outlaw to justice.
Whenever he thought of Arnie Hammer's portrayal of John Reid, The Lone Ranger, Brown wondered aloud what ever happened to Clayton Moore, believing that Moore was a much better Lone Ranger than Hammer could ever hope to be, although he was convinced that both men were far more courageous than any Texas Ranger. He said much the same about Johnny Depp as Tonto, believing that Jay Silverheels was a much better Tonto than Depp.
I pointed out that it was Depp's movie and that Jay Silverheels died in 1980 while Clayton Moore died in 1999.
Brown was momentarily shaken by the news of the deaths of Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore, mumbled a quick prayer for their souls and turned his attention again to the film. Brown argued that the story was nonsense and the characters (with exception of the redhead whore with the ivory leg) were twaddle. But he thought the scenery was pretty and he said that the movie made it clear that the West was a very dangerous place, populated by 'hard' men and very resourceful women.
Brown began talking about his favorite Western movie and settled on Shane with Alan Ladd. Alan Ladd was a short man. "Far too short for the gunman he played," Brown told me. But Brown knew Grafton's. "They copied that saloon from the joint that English Lyn ran. A few more random barrels than English Lyn's, a less whores, but otherwise, an exact copy."
His death has left a huge hole in my life. Turner Brown was a vibrant and very real link to the 'Old West'. Even though Brown, like all old men, had become cantankerous and difficult to deal with, I will miss him every day, for the rest of my life.
Brown is forced to make a dangerous and illegal foray into Mexico before he can resume his personal quest for redemption.