Richard “Zwing” Hunt

Richard “Zwing” Hunt

Burnet County, Texas, USA
Death 31 May 1882 (aged 23–24)
Cochise County, Arizona, USA
Burial Cochise County, Arizona, USA
Memorial ID 17390726 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Zwing Hunt - Cochise County Outlaw

On November 14, 1817 Lucy Webb Barnett married Jesse Johnson in Greene County, Georgia. This union started the events which would see an outlaw die in Cochise County, Arizona, and the death of John F. Kennedy pro-mote another into the presidency of The United States. 

Jesse and Lucy lived in Georgia for about thirty years. During that time Jesse served as sheriff of Henry County in 1824 and again in 1828. He also engaged in farming in Oglethhorpe, Henry and Greene Counties. A brief stay in Alabama, during 1838, saw the birth of Sam Early Johnson, one of ten children born to Jesse and Lucy. Sam Early's sister' Mary Ann Elizabeth (Betty) was seven years older than her brother, and was born in Henry County Georgia in 1831. 

These two children of Jesse and Lucy Webb Barnett Johnson are the principals in the story about to unfold. The information is largely based on personal correspondence with Sally Davis, a descendant of Johnson/Hunt families of Georgia and Texas. 

Jesse Johnson moved his family and eight slaves to Lockhart, Caldwell County, Texas. It was in Texas that Mary Ann Elizabeth, born June 29, 1831 in Henry County, Georgia, became the wife of Texas hero widower, Thomas W. Hunt. Thomas W. had three children by a previous marriage and after the death of his first wife, Jemima Jane Ponton, married Mary Ann Elizabeth on June 10, 1857. They resided probably in Burnett County, Texas, where Zwing, their first child was born. The date March 29, 1858. Five other children and siblings of Zwing were born over the years. 

Sam Early Johnson, the brother of Mary Ann Elizabeth, was married December 12, 1867 in Lockhart, Caldwel1 County, Texas to Eliza Bunton . Their son, Sam Early Jr., was born on October 11, 1877 in Buda, Hayes County, Texas, and married Rebekah Baines of McKinney, Texas, on August 20, 1907. These are the parents of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Senior United States Senator from Stonewall, Texas, vice president under John F. Kennedy, becoming the 36th President of the United States after the tragic death of President Kennedy. 

The second part of the story involves Zwing Hunt. This part of the story involves intrigue, treasure, gunfights and the fantasy that grows out of our western heritage. 

Sometime after 1874, Joel Ponton Hunt, Zwing's half-brother, with financing from the family, went into the freight hauling business between Tombstone, Arizona, and Hillsboro, New Mexico. He was supposedly killed by Indians in Hillsboro May 29, 1880. When the family heard of Joel's death, Zwing petitioned the family to allow him to go there and bring back the freighting equipment. After arriving in Hillsboro, Zwing decided to take over the business and stayed in the area. Perhaps this is where Zwing met up with Billy Grounds, a turning influence in the life of Zwing Hunt.

There are many stories concerning Zwing Hunt and the events that followed his short life in New Mexico and Arizona. Association with the Clantons and Earps of Tombstone, the supposed rumors of treasure and the so-called participation of an uncle who peddled maps of the Skeleton Canyon affair and treasure has no substantiation within the family records, letters, etc. 

In March of 1882 The Tombstone Mining Company office at Charleston, Cochise County, Arizona was robbed and an employee of the office was killed. The safe and money was left intact and the perpetrators fled the premises. The next day, at a ranch near Lewis Springs, two cowboys came out of the hills and requested something to eat. It was determined the next day the two cowboys were Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds. Both Zwing and Billy became suspects in the Charleston affair but it was never determined they actually held up the mining company office. 

A few days later, Zwing and Billy arrived at the Chandler Milk Ranch east of Tombstone, claiming the owner owed them money. The man in charge went to Tombstone to request the money but instead the sheriff was notified and Deputy Sheriff Breakenridge, E. H. Allen, Allen (Jack) Young, and John A. Gillespie started for the ranch to arrest Zwing and Billy on a grand larceny warrant for cattle stealing the previous fall. 

There are several accounts about what happened. Basically there was a gun battle in which several died and several were injured. Supposedly Zwing shot through the open door, killing Gillespie and forcing Breakenridge, Allen and Young to take cover. Zwing shot at Allen, hitting him in the neck, with Allen returning the fire and hitting Zwing in the chest. Billy Grounds carne out of the house and was wounded by buckshot from the gun of Breakenridge. The gun battle ended and Police Chief Dave Nagle of Tombstone, Dr. George E. Goodfellow and the coroner came to the ranch. After giving medical attention to the wounded, the dead and wounded were taken back to Tombstone where Billy Grounds died from his wounds. Zwing was placed in the hospital and due to the severity of his wound was left unguarded. 

Concern over Zwing and his activities prompted the family to send brother Hugh to bring him home. Apparently this decision was too late as the shoot out had happened before Hugh got to Tombstone where he found Zwing in the hospital. Three weeks later, on April 28, Hugh helped Zwing to escape and they made their way to the Dragoon Mountains where Zwing was allowed to rest. The following day they headed to the Chiricahua Mountains close to the present town of Douglas, Arizona. Through the month of May, Zwing and Hugh wandered the mountain canyons and on May 30 finally came to Russels Canyon (Rustlers Canyon now called Hunt Canyon) and spent the night in what became known as "Outlaw Cave". 

The next morning during the preparation of breakfast, about a hundred yards below the cave a party of Apache Indians surprised the brothers with gunfire. Zwing supposedly returned the fire but was struck several times. Hugh had emptied his gun and seeing his brother dead managed to escape. Hugh reported the attack at Camp Price, a small unit located at the southern end of the Chiricahua. A lieutenant and ten mounted soldiers accompanied Hugh to the scene of the fight. They found Zwing with four bullet wounds— one in the hip, another in the abdomen and two in the head. The Indians had also cut off the middle finger of the right hand. Zwing was buried in a shallow grave just east of three large juniper trees where he was killed. Z. Hunt, May 31, 1882 was carved in one of the trees. 

In order to prove that it was Hunt who was buried there Billy Breakenridge and Phil Montague went into the canyon in 1888, dug up the grave, and identified the body as that of Zwing Hunt; they both knew him well. In 1929 lightning struck the trees and they soon died. In 1930 Mexican woodcutters cut the dead trees, leaving only the rock covered grave. In 1973, Glenn Dunham, Larry Christiansen and Ervin Bond from the Cochise County Historical Archaeological Society had a cement marker made, and Marvin Glenn took the three men up to the site. A marker was placed at the head of the grave with the original words inscribed.

Zwing Hunt and Lyndon Baines Johnson share common grandparents, Jesse and Lucy Webb Barnett Johnson. One, dead at 24 with the historical record of an outlaw. The other, died a historical figure as the 36th president of The United States. 


Zwing Hunt
Killed by Indians

  • Created by: C. Fahey
  • Added: 11 Jan 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 17390726
  • C. Fahey
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Richard “Zwing” Hunt (1858–31 May 1882), Find a Grave Memorial no. 17390726, citing Chiricahua Wilderness, Cochise County, Arizona, USA ; Maintained by C. Fahey (contributor 46827298) .