Line Rider Extras

LINE RIDER is the true story of the life of Joseph Harrison Pearce (1873-1958), written by his own hand.

During his lifetime, the “wild west” from the storybooks still lived and breathed in one of the last places to be modernized—Arizona.

Joe, as he calls himself, took various roles throughout his adventurous life, including sheep herder, cowman, courter, tracker, line rider, and, most famously, that venerated breed of law man known as the Arizona Ranger. His story leads him to encounters with cattle rustlers, gamblers, saloons, stampedes, horse thieves, Indian trackers, outlaws, and nearly every other subject that later made its way into western legend.

But this story is absolutely real, told in his own voice in vivid detail.

Joseph Harrison Pearce was born in St. George, Utah, on September 4th, 1873, the third of an eventual eleven children.

U.S. Geological Survey map of Arizona from about 1900, showing counties, railroads, principal towns, and Indian reservations.

This visit of Geronimo and the friendship he made with my Father is probably the reason we were pretty much left alone by the Apaches, while other sheep and cattle men suffered.

The body of one of the Indians killed was identified by several different Mexicans—who had known the Kid in life—as that of Apache Kid. An inglorious end to one of the West’s worst bad men… killed stealing corn!

He was the finest Apache I ever knew, an excellent scout, soldier, trailer—called Loco Jim because he was so crazy brave in a fight. Loco Jim in later years taught me much of what I know about cold trailing, and was a loyal friend to me all his life long.

The Hash Knife outfit came in with the railroad and brought to hundreds of miles of country trouble and bloodshed and a sheep and cattle feud that was climaxed by the Pleasant Valley War but went on for years afterward.

The little girl with the sniffly nose that chased me across the schoolyard? Why, that was Minnie Lund whom I married eight years later.

A trick of the outlaws when they reach a black rocky ridge or a cedar ridge, is to take the horses ahead a ways and leave their horses, coming back on foot where they can lie hidden on the ridge and knock a posse off.

This is an actual photo of Blackjack on the gallows. His final words were as follows: “Goodbye. Please dig my grave very deep. Alright, hurry up.”

Each man to enlist must provide himself with a horse, saddle, and complete pack outfit, a Colt .45 six shooter (no less) and a carbine .30-.40 (no less).

“I’m Captain Rynning, Arizona Rangers. And you’re Joe Pearce,” he said grinning as he shook my hand. “Let’s have a drink and talk things over.”

Newspaper article reporting the incidents of the chapter titled "Sleepered Calves:"

Directly the appointment was wired from Washington, I resigned from the Rangers by letter, telling Captain Rynning I’d toted a gun a long time and it was getting too heavy. 

We were married soon after I proposed, after the grapes were ripe and harvested. Minnie’s Uncle Ed, a Mormon bishop at Greer, performed the ceremony.

It’s possible that Tom Capehart and Tom Low were both aliases for an outlaw named Harvey Logan, who was nicknamed Kid Curry. He is pictured below, standing on the right with his hand on Butch Cassidy’s shoulder; the Sundance Kid is seated on the left. 

In the pasture was a single horse. I galloped over and looked at the animal, and saw he was all sweaty and wore out. I rubbed the old salt sweat off his shoulder and then off his side, and out of the caked whiteness came a brand—the Zuni brand. 

He died at the age of 84 in Mesa, Arizona, on March 4th, 1958. Minnie followed him on March 1st, 1970, nearly twelve years later to the day. They are buried in the Eagar Cemetery (block 50, lot 02, grave 13).

I’ll tell ya about number 13, my lucky number. I was seeking adventure.

Joe Pearce, 1943

Minnie, the daughter of William Wilson Lund and Annie Elizabeth Wiltbank, was born at Nutrioso, Arizona, on June 8th, 1885, the night Geronimo and his band made their raid through the valley.

This is one page from Joe’s original manuscript. 

AUDIO: Listen to Joe Pearce's actual voice in a (3-hour) panel with the Arizona Historical Society

SCANS: This album shows two articles Joe Pearce had published in The Improvement Era. It also contains the complete scan of the original LINE RIDER manuscript.