One of the perks that come from writing is the people I meet along the way and the lessons they impart. True, a number of those folks went on to meet their maker long before my arrival into this world but they are still quite interesting and still have a great number of things to teach.
Charles Nash is one. From abandoned orphan to president of Buick before the age of 30.  Have you ever read about the inventor of cruise control, Mr. Teetor, the fellow who was blinded at the age of five? And what is the biggest obstacle I have to overcome?
Hugo O’Conor, the Irish mercenary in the pay of the Spanish government was another one of these interesting people. I met him while writing Backroads of Arizona His most noteworthy contribution to history was accepting the assignment of establishing a string of presidios from San Diego to San Antonio, and relocation of the presidio at Tubac.
Then there was Jim Roberts, a frontier era lawman who had survived the bloody Pleasant Valley War, and kept the peace in wild and woolly Arizona Territory towns such as Congress, Jerome, and Douglas. In 1928, while serving as constable in Clarkdale, Roberts stepped from the world of Wyatt Earp into the world of Bonnie and Clyde when he took down bank robbers, Earl Nelson and Wiilard Foster from Oklahoma.
The two men on the lamb from the Sooner State saw an easy mark in the First Interstate Bank in sleepy little Clarkdale. With $40,000 in hand they confidently strode from the bank and came face to face with Jim Roberts.
As they darted for their car wild shots were fired at the old man that stood between them and freedom. Roberts was not a fellow easily intimidated by the size of the man confronting him or the sound of gunfire.
As the gangsters sped toward him, Roberts coolly stepped into the street, and fired one shot into the driver, Forester. It was later reported that the car had yet to make a complete stop before a subdued Nelson jumped from the car with arms raised.
High on my list of interesting people overlooked by history is Jeff Davis Milton, one of the fellows I met while writing Ghost Towns of the Southwest I am quite sure if you look in the dictionary under tough, rugged, durable, or adaptable, you will find his picture.
At the tender age of 15, in 1876, Milton decided clerking in a store just wasn’t his cup of tea. So, he hired on with a cattle outfit in Texas, literally learned the ropes as well as the required proficiency of horsemanship skills. He also proved quite adept with firearms.
Three years short of the minimum age requirement of 21, he lied about his age and signed on with the Texas Rangers. For the next three years his jurisdiction was the lawless wilderness of the Big Bend Country.
After resolving the issue of lawlessness in the area he decided to again try his hand as a cowboy. To that end he acquired a spread in the New Mexico territory.
Bored with the daily routine and drudgery of ranch life, he again turned to law enforcement and served as a deputy sheriff and sheriff in a number of towns in the territories of New Mexico and Arizona. He even served as the chief of police in El Paso, Texas, and customs officer in Nogales. However, it was as a Wells Fargo Railroad Agent that his mettle was truly tested.
The year was 1900, the dawn of a new century and new era, except in the dusty little town of Fairbank, Arizona Territory where it was still the western frontier. For months an outlaw band had frustrated the best efforts of area law enforcement and avoided capture after a string of robberies in Fairbank, Tombstone, and surrounding areas.
As it later turned out there was good reason for their ability to elude the law, the leaders of the gang, Bill Stiles and Bert Alvord were Cochise County deputies. Their run of luck came to an abrupt end on a cold winter evening in a hail of gunfire and cloud of smoke when they crossed paths Jeff Milton.
As an officer of the law, Bill Stiles, was well aware of strong box shipments by rail and the schedule of stops including the one in Fairbank. This inside information allowed him to plan the heist in Fairbank on a run when Jeff Milton was not riding shotgun. Stiles was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a fool.
Fate intervened in the rest of this story. A sick employee resulted in Jeff Milton being assigned duty on that train, a fact Stiles was not aware of.
When the train arrived in Fairbank, the outlaw band, including Three Fingered Jack Dunlop, Bravo Juan Yaos, and two brothers whose names have been obscured by time, acted the part of drunken cowboys as they made their way through the crowd toward the baggage car where freight was being loaded and unloaded.
The sight of Milton standing in the door must have been a shock but as they had the element of surprise, they opened fire. The former Texas Ranger was struck twice and fell back into the baggage car bleeding profusely.
Flush with the prospect of success, the outlaw band charged the rail car and ran into an enraged Milton armed with a shotgun. Three Fingered Jack was struck in the chest and died from his wounds nine miles from Fairbank along the trail shortly after making a full confession and naming names.
As the outlaws scrambled for cover and peppered the car with gunfire, Yaos was shot in the back, and was dead before hitting the ground. Milton tossed the strong box keys into the night, made a tourniquet for his arm from his shirt, and left the outlaws with no choice but to flee into the night on the road to Tombstone.
Milton’s adventures did not end that cold night. He recovered from his wounds and though he never regained use his arm, became a border patrol agent responsible for the area between Yuma and San Diego, and a U.S. Immigration officer responsible for escorting Russian anarchists back to Russia.
In later years Milton turned towards the life of a miner at Tombstone. In 1947, at the age of eighty-five, he quietly passed away in his sleep. 
Lessons learned: get the job done, don’t make excuses for why you can’t, never back down when you are in the right. Lesson two: times change and stands still for no man, deal with it. Lesson three: make a stand or the bad guys win. Lesson four: live life, don’t be a spectator.