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William “Curly Bill” Brocius Deadliest Arizona Gunfighter

The Wild West is well known for its colorful history, and it’s often portrayed as a place that was replete with saloons, gambling, and gunfights. And whether lawmen or outlaws – nobody was anyone in the Old West unless they knew how to handle a gun.

Some applied their skills as gunslingers to robbing trains, others combined quick-draw shooting with fiery tempers or a seemingly psychotic need to kill, and yet others used their abilities to enforce the law – even though their conduct was often questionable.

Still, while we may not admire them for their exploits, we can certainly appreciate the skill of these renowned gunfighters. Here’s a look at one of the deadliest Wild West gunslingers.

William “Curly Bill” Brocius

William “Curly Bill” Brocius


Born around 1845, William Brocius, better known as “Curly Bill” Brocius, may well be Arizona’s most famous – or infamous – outlaw.

He was involved in multiple gunfights and related incidents, including the accidental shooting of Tombstone town marshal Fred White on October 27, 1880, and the March 8, 1881, killing of a cowboy named Dick Lloyd.

San Simon cowboy Dick Lloyd was well known in southern Arizona for his “tall bucking” (cowboy slang for riding a bronc in high style). Unfortunately, he got drunk in Maxey City (near Safford) in March 1881 and rode his horse into O’Neil and Franklin’s Saloon, where Curly Bill Brocius, John Ringo and other cowboys were playing cards. Perturbed, they unlimbered their six-shooters and plugged Lloyd, dropping him to the floor of the saloon. According to legend, the cowboys continued their card game, tossing winnings onto the body to help defray his funeral expenses.

Brocius may have also been mixed up in the March 18, 1882, assassination of Morgan Earp. Whether or not this was the case, what is certain is that Brocius was good with a gun. In fact, a contemporary said he was capable of shooting coins from between people’s fingers and could comfortably take down fleeing jackrabbits. He was also said to have the ability to snuff out a candle by firing at it with his pistol. In the end, though, on March 24, 1882, Wyatt Earp killed Brocius during a shootout involving the Earp posse, Brocius and several other cowboys in Iron Springs, Arizona.

Source: The 10 Deadliest Wild West Gunfighters