Reverend F. J. Tolby was a Methodist circuit minister, who, in September of 1875, was traveling between Elizabeth and Cimarron in the New MexicoTerritory when he was waylaid and killed. Suspicion fell upon a mail carrier by the name of Cruz Vega. Cruz was arrested, and later, because of the lack of evidence, released
Friend and fellow minister, O. P. Mains was sure Cruz was the villain. So, he persuaded Clay Allison to talk to Cruz about the murder. You may remember Clay Allison being the subject of a couple of earlier stories. If not, just let me say that Allison was a maniacal killer. Using his own special method of persuasion, Allison was able to get Cruz to spill his guts. In the spilling, Cruz indicated that a Manuel Cardenas actually did the killing.
But, Allison and friends wanted someone to pay for the killing of Reverend Tolby, and unfortunately, Cardenas wasn’t around. So, on October 30, they decided to hang Cruz Vega. But, Clay Allison was a companionate person. So, while Cruz was choking to death, Allison shot him in the back, according to Allison “to put the poor Mexican out of his misery.” And even though Allison wasn’t a religious man, he evidently felt it was important to show people that no one should mess with a man of the cloth, so Allison cut Cruz down from the tree and drug him through town.
Manuel Cardenas was arrested and about ten days later vigilantes shot him to death.
I wonder if the following Sunday’s sermon of Reverend O. P. Mains, the man who started the killing spree, was on the sixth commandment.