Arizona’s deadliest gunfight presentation at Bullion Plaza Museum

Arizona’s deadliest shootout did not happen in 1881 in Tombstone, but in 1918 near Klondyke, in a remote canyon in the Galiuro Mountains northeast of Tucson.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m., author and historian Heidi J. Osselaer will be at Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum, 150 Plaza Circle in Miami, to present her newest look at this historic Arizona event in her newly published book, “Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight: Draft Resistance and Tragedy at the Power Cabin, 1918.”

On a cold winter morning, Jeff Power was lighting a fire in his remote Arizona cabin when he heard a noise, grabbed his rifle and walked out the front door. Someone in the dark shouted, “Throw up your hands!”

Shots rang out from inside and outside the cabin and, when it was all over, Jeff’s sons, Tom and John, emerged to find the sheriff and his two deputies dead and their father mortally wounded. Miami Deputy Sheriff Frank Haynes was the only law enforcement officer to survive.

He had joined three Graham County peace officers who went to the cabin that day to arrest Tom and John, labeled “slackers,” or draft dodgers.

Previous accounts have portrayed the Power brothers’ gun battle as a quintessential western feud. Heidi explodes that myth and demonstrates how the national debate over U.S. entry into the First World War divided society at its farthest edges, creating the political and social climate that lead to this tragedy.

A vivid, thoroughly researched account, “Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight” describes an impoverished family that wanted nothing to do with modern civilization. Jeff Power had built his cabin miles from the nearest settlement, yet he could not escape the federal government’s expanding reach. The Power men were far from violent criminals, but Jeff had openly criticized the Great War, and his sons had failed to register for the draft. Zealous for America’s entry into the Great War and the military draft, Heidi believes Graham County Sheriff Frank McBride set out to make an example of the “slackers.”

Osselaer will talk about the book, show trailers from her movie, “Powers War,” and be available to sign her newly published hardcover book, which sells for $29.95.

Osselaer teaches history at Arizona State University and is the author of “Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950.”


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