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First Son
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The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory
Climate and Culture Change in North America AD 900 to 1600
A Natural History of the Romance Novel

Arizona's Deadliest GunfightArizona's Deadliest Gunfight

Draft Resistance and Tragedy at the Power Cabin, 1918

Heidi J. Ossalaer

2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Arizona History

Narrated by Ted Brooks

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Oklahoma Press

On a cold winter morning, Jeff Power was lighting a fire in his remote Arizona cabin when he heard a noise, grabbed his rifle, and walked out the front door. Someone in the dark shouted, “Throw up your hands!” Shots rang out from inside and outside the cabin, and when it was all over, Jeff’s sons, Tom and John, emerged to find the sheriff and his two deputies dead, and their father mortally wounded.

Arizona’s deadliest shoot-out happened not in 1881, but in 1918 as the United States plunged into World War I, and not in Tombstone, but in a remote canyon in the Galiuro Mountains northeast of Tucson. Whereas previous accounts have portrayed the gun battle as a quintessential western feud, historian Heidi J. Osselaer explodes that myth and demonstrates how the national debate over U.S. entry into the First World War divided society at its farthest edges, creating the political and social climate that lead to this tragedy.

A vivid, thoroughly researched account, Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight describes an impoverished family that wanted nothing to do with modern civilization. Jeff Power had built his cabin miles from the nearest settlement, yet he could not escape the federal government’s expanding reach. The Power men were far from violent criminals, but Jeff had openly criticized the Great War, and his sons had failed to register for the draft.

To separate fact from dozens of false leads and conspiracy theories, Osselaer traced the Power family’s roots back several generations, interviewed descendants of the shoot-out’s participants, and uncovered previously unknown records. What happened to Tom and John Power afterward is as stirring and tragic a story as the gunfight itself. Weaving together a family-based local history with national themes of wartime social discord, rural poverty, and dissent, Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight will be the authoritative account of the 1918 incident and the memorable events that unfolded in its wake.

Heidi J. Ossalaer teaches history at Arizona State University and is the author of Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883–1950.


“The Power shoot-out is one of the most interesting and mysterious events in Arizona history, its story clouded by politics, prejudice, and intolerance. Heidi Osselaer has written the best, clearest, and most objective account of the event. From now on, Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight will be the definitive source on the tragedy.”

—Thomas Cobb, author of With Blood in Their Eyes and Crazy Heart

“I know of no other book quite like this one. In Heidi Osselaer’s capable hands, a seemingly minor confrontation in a remote canyon in the mountains of eastern Arizona becomes a mirror reflecting many larger issues that gripped early-twentieth-century America. This is nonfiction at its finest.”

—Carlos A. Schwantes, author of In Mountain Shadows: A History of Idaho

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University Press Audiobooks