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James A. Mercer

James A. Mercer

Cattle rustling was, and is, a very profitable crime. The county employed rangers to help combat this problem. On December 2, 1914, County Ranger James A. Mercer, accompanied by rancher Robert Fenton, went to the small ranch of J. Padilla in an area north of Pantano, Arizona. Ranger Mercer was investigating a report that Padilla was in possession of a stolen calf. As Ranger Mercer and Mr. Fenton approached the ranch, Mr. Padilla began walking towards them. About 70 yards away from Ranger Mercer, J. Padilla raised his rifle and fired once. The bullet struck Ranger Mercer in the left leg just above the knee. He fell to the ground bleeding profusely from the wound, the bullet had also broken the leg bone. Mr. Padilla fled to a nearby canyon. Mr. Fenton arranged passage for the wounded Ranger Mercer on a train bound for Tucson, where he was taken to Rogers Hospital. He survived for nine days after the attack, dying on December 11, 1914, at the age of 42 from the loss of blood.

No record has been found as to whether or not J. Padilla was ever arrested. James Mercer was survived by his wife Harriet, two brothers, and three sisters.


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