Leslie Avenue was recorded with Pima County in 1941 in a neighborhood where the streets are named for lawmen such as Johnny Behan and outlaws such as William “Billy the Kid” Bonney.
“Buckskin” Frank Leslie was born about 1842, but the rest of his early days appear to be a mystery. He likely hailed from Texas or possibly Kentucky, and claimed at various times to have studied medicine or pharmacy, although no evidence has been found to support this claim. He served as a scout for the U.S. Army in Texas, Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and the Dakota Territory during the 1870s and served in the campaigns and against Geronimo during the Apache wars.
The first credible evidence found related to his life was in 1877, when he was discharged along with 20 other scouts at the San Carlos Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. The following year he is found in San Francisco, working as a bartender. Within a couple years he was drawn to the excitement of a new boomtown called Tombstone.
In 1880, he opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel there, and in June of that year he engaged in a fight and killed Mike Killeen, a bartender at the hotel over his beautiful, dark-haired, estranged wife. The killing was officially ruled self-defense, but suspicions arose when soon after Leslie wed Killeen’s widow. While Leslie was friendly with the Clanton group, he didn’t involve himself in the Earp-Clanton feud, which led to The Gunfight at the OK Corral, in 1881, one of the most famous gun duels in the Old West.
The following year, his business was destroyed in a fire that swept through the Tombstone business district, and Leslie went to work as a bartender at the Oriental Saloon.
He shared many drinks with outlaw Johnny Ringo. When Ringo was found dead in July of that year, some suspected Leslie of killing him, though it was likely a suicide.
Billy Claiborne, one of the individuals who believed Leslie was responsible for his friend Ringo’s death, called Leslie out one day, which lead to Claiborne losing his life.
During an Indian scare, Leslie scouted for a bit and then returned to Tombstone, where he partnered with Milton Joyce, his former employer at the Oriental Saloon. He also worked as a customs inspector during this period.
In 1887, Leslie’s wife divorced him due to infidelity.
Soon after, Leslie began living with a singer and prostitute, “Blonde” Mollie Williams. In a drunken rage a couple years later, he killed her at his ranch.
This time, with the testimony of a ranch hand, he went to the Yuma Territorial Prison until 1896.
After gaining his freedom, Leslie married Belle Stowell, who had worked for his release .
They soon parted ways, and Leslie spent several years working odd jobs. One of those jobs was as a guard for the Southern Pacific Railroad’s geologic expedition in Mexico. His trigger-happy ways, however, led to the killing of three Mexican men suspected of stealing wood.
He may have gone to the Klondike during the gold rush, because he returned to San Francisco in 1904 with a sizable amount of money.
It seems Leslie’s life took a turn for the worse after this period. He bartended in numerous watering holes and operated a poolroom between 1913 to 1922 in Oakland, Calif.
He seems to disappear after this time. In 1926, his old friend Billy Breakenridge tried unsuccessfully to find him.
It’s unknown what happened to Leslie, or when he died.