Sgt Jefferson Parish “Jeff” Kidder

Sgt Jefferson Parish “Jeff” Kidder

Vermillion, Clay County, South Dakota, USA
Death 5 Apr 1908 (aged 32)
Naco, Naco Municipality, Sonora, Mexico
Burial Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Grave Site Location: 396 Sequoia, small ground level marker may be covered by cut dried grass
Memorial ID 17773227 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Note* Grave Marker shows different dates. Two credible book sources indicate Kidder was born November 15, 1875. He was shot on Saturday, April 4th, 1908 at approximately 12:30am and died at approximately 6:30am, Sunday, April 5, 1908 in Naco, Mexico.

In an incident that could have been scripted by a hotshot Hollywood hack, blazing gunfire left an Arizona Ranger and three Mexican policemen bleeding and writhing in agony on a Mexican barroom floor.

Unfortunately for Ranger Sgt. Jeff P. Kidder and his adversaries, the April 4, 1908, affray was the real thing -a near-classic stand-up shootout of the sort highly uncommon in the Old West, where back-shooting and ambushes were the norm. Kidder died of his wounds Sunday morning on April 5, 1908 as did one of the Mexicans.

The Ranger, about 30, was just the sort of man wanted by Capt. Harry Wheeler - brash, sure of himself, quick-tempered and an excellent marksman. In his five years on the force, he had risen to the rank of sergeant and was, that April night, celebrating having just "reupped" for another year as one of the territory's roving lawmen. Note* Some historical accounts indicate that Kidder had not yet actually re-upped, but he was in Naco, Arizona for that purpose. This is why Kidder is not officially listed as an Arizona Ranger killed in the line of duty.

Details of what happened that night are not as clear as they might be. Versions recounted by witnesses vary, depending on where their loyalties lay.

One example: The Mexican bartender later said Kidder had had "about 50" drinks before the shooting occurred - something that, if true, would have left him incapable of standing, let alone aiming his revolver.

It is clear, though, that Kidder and some friends had walked across the international border from Naco, Ariz., and sought out, as the Arizona Daily Citizen of April 4, 1908, described it, "a saloon there where there are a number of women of the under world."

It is believed Kidder had dealings with one of the women, Chia, who had recently arrived from Douglas, and, about 1 a.m., had words with her about a missing dollar. She called for police.

One version of the story is that only one policeman appeared and that both he and Kidder drew revolvers and fired at each other - the Mexican's shot missing its mark but Kidder's round shattering the officer's lower leg.

That version indicates the shooting brought two other policemen, and shooting resumed, leaving all four men wounded and bleeding on the barroom floor, Kidder shot through the stomach and intestines, one of the Mexicans shot through the groin and the other in the head.

A more "action-packed" version has Kidder simultaneously facing all three Mexican policemen, who then are joined by Mexican border guards. Kidder was said to have emptied his revolver and attempted - unsuccessfully - to make it back across the border, rolling on the ground and reloading when no longer able to stand.

That version has him being beaten by the border guards with the butts of their Winchester rifles. He told a Bisbee doctor, sent to attend him in the Naco, Sonora, jail, where he was taken, that he was beaten, and later an examination of his body revealed a skull fracture and several broken ribs.

Friends said Kidder had previously "had words" with one of the Mexican policemen, and said they believed he was set up to be killed. They also noted that when his body was returned, his watch, ring and money were missing.

Kidder, born in South Dakota, was said to have a violent temper, and on more than one occasion was criticized for pistol-whipping men in Bisbee, paying a $50 fine in one instance.

According to Dan L. Thrapp in the Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Kidder killed Tom T. Woods in a Douglas gunbattle on Dec. 31, 1906.

Arizona Ranger Cpt Tom Rynning said "Jeff Kidder was the fastest---absolutely the quickest hand with a six shooter I've ever met up with. He worked the hammer with the thumb of his pistol hand as fast as I could fan it with my other hand."

Arizona Ranger Harry Wheeler said "Jeff was a noble, manly fellow, brave and enrgetic, the best all around man I had...Jeff Kidder was one of the best officers who ever stepped foot in this section of the country. He did not know what fear was."

The Ranger's body was removed from the Palace Funeral Parlor in Bisbee and shipped by rail on Wednesday April 8, 1908 to his mother in San Jacinto, Calif., for burial. Also sent was his small dog, a Chihuahua mix that observers said stood by his side when he was shot and fought with his attackers.

Sources: PAUL L. ALLEN, Tucson Citizen Newspaper Article:
Lookin' Back: Guns roared; Ranger died April 25, 2005.

Deadly Dozen, Twelve Forgotten GUNFIGHTERS of the OLD WEST by: Robert K. DeArment.

Violence Was No Stranger by: James A. Browning.

The Arizona Rangers was a law enforcement agency in Arizona, modeled on the Texas Ranger Division, created by the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1901. Created to deal with infestations of outlaws, especially rustlers, in the sparsely populated Territory of Arizona, especially along the Mexican border, the Rangers were an elite, well-trained, and secretive agency mounted on the best horses money could buy and well equipped with modern weapons at State expense. They were very effective in apprehending members of outlaw bands, often surprising them by descending on them without warning. (Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

See entry 6077437 (Grandfather of Jeff Kidder)

Family Members

Gravesite Details Arizona Ranger
  • Created by: C. Fahey
  • Added: 2 Feb 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17773227
  • C. Fahey
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Jefferson Parish “Jeff” Kidder (15 Nov 1875–5 Apr 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17773227, citing Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by C. Fahey (contributor 46827298) .