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Buckskin Frank Leslie Image Credit: True West
Buckskin Frank Leslie Image Credit: True West

Buckskin Frank Leslie

Filling the gaps in the long and illustrious life of a Tombstone legend.

Jack Demattos

“I, Nashville Franklyn Leslie, was born near San Antonio, Texas on the 18th day of March 1842 and am now a resident of Tombstone, Arizona and have been a resident of Arizona for nine years.”

Written in a job application on March 10, 1886, these words are the earliest record of the birth date and place for the man history remembers as “Buckskin Frank” Leslie. His first 36 years prior to that record has proven elusive for researchers. Herein reveals new information that has come to light about the gunfighter who earned infamy in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

Leslie Enters Frontier History

Standing five feet seven and weighing about 135 pounds, Leslie cut a dashing figure when he complemented his city attire with a fringed buckskin vest. He arrived in Tombstone in 1880, after leaving San Francisco, California, where an 1878 city directory recorded him working as a “barkeeper” in Thomas Boland’s saloon.

A new journal, Arizona Quarterly Illustrated, published a highly imaginative account of his early life in July 1880. Leslie told the journalist he was a Texas native who joined the Army in 1861 until he, a first lieutenant, surrendered on April 9, 1865, with the 10th Texas Cavalry. He then worked as an Indian scout, known as “Buckskin Frank.” From 1871-73, he served as a deputy sheriff in Kansas in Abilene and Ellsworth under James Butler “Wild


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