Byways Issue 19-5

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Dad Peppin’s Role in Lincoln County War history

Published in Don Bullis’ New Mexico Historical Notebook, issue 6-21-06, reprinted herein with his permission:


by Don Bullis


Born in Vermont, George Warden “Dad” Peppin (1841-1904) made his way to New Mexico by means of the 5th Infantry of the so-called California Column in 1862. He was discharged at Fort Stanton, in Lincoln County, in 1864. He made his living as a stonemason for many years. Peppin’s claim to fame came with the Lincoln County War. After Sheriff William Brady was murdered on April 1, 1878, and his successor, John Copeland, was removed after a month or so in office, Peppin became Lincoln County Sheriff. Since he was staunchly on the side of Murphy and Dolan in the affray, some local folks called him the “quasi-sheriff.” His appointment came in time for him to be the representative of the law at the time of the Five Day Battle at Lincoln in July 1878. He handled the situation badly by allowing the Murphy-Dolan faction to control events, and he hid behind a detachment of regular army troops as the killing spun out of control. He was not re-elected in the November 1878 election. Presidential Investigator Frank Angel described him as a “weak Murphy man—partisan, not reliable.” He later became a butcher at Fort Stanton.

(Above) From New Mexico: A Biographical Dictionary by Don Bullis, scheduled for publication in October 2006.