The Real Tombstone Travesty - by Gary L. Roberts
WOLA Journal, Vo. VIII, No. 3 Fall 1999
THE REAL TOMBSTONE TRAVESTY:
The Earp Controversy from Bechdolt to Boyer
By: Gary L. Roberts
Wyatt Earp was not the only controversial figure in the history of the American West. Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, Butch Cassidy, Bat Masterson, Tom Horn, Frank Canton, and a variety of others have all had their share of hero worship and debunking in what Frank Waters called the “Great American Myth” of the “two-gun man.” Many of them, especially Jesse, the Kid, and Wild Bill have been myth collectors, but Wyatt Earp’s story has been different, perhaps because he lived to a ripe old age, but almost certainly because of a peculiarly bitter division among old-timers about who and what he was. This bitter division has been perpetuated and extended in the writings about his life. He excites a level of controversy even today that almost defies explanation.
This controversy has taken on a life of its own in the Earp story. It is as much a part of the research process as investigations into his days as a peace officer in Dodge City, the Fremont Street fiasco known as the “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” or the vendetta ride that assured his place in the six-shooter lore of the Old West. Exploring the literature is also a treacherous enterprise because of the peculiar corruption of the record that has attended the growth of the controversy. Other Western characters have been lied about, fictionalized, and mythologized, but no where else is the practice so pervasive or so corrosive to truth as it is in the Earp story.
Wyatt Earp was the subject of much bitter and false commentary in his life time.
When he rode out of Tombstone in 1882, his movements were the subject of national press coverage. Contrary to much that has been published since, Wyatt Earp was a known commodity in Western lore from the moment he gunned down Frank Stilwell in Tucson. There was a flurry of coverage that spring, not merely in Tombstone and in Tucson, but in the rest of the country as well, especially in California and Colorado. Yet, after 1882, despite frequent references to Earp in the press, as well as occasional interviews with him, most of what was written about him and about Tombstone bore little resemblance to what had happened. Despite its errors and some questions about the liberties taken by his ghost writer, the account attributed to Wyatt in the San Francisco Examiner in 1896 is perhaps the closest thing to an accurate account to be published before the 1920’s.1 This conclusion is faint praise, but the Examiner articles at least described real events and got most of the names right.
In contrast, Earp was subjected over the years to a series of scurrilous attacks that so distorted the facts of his life and the history of Tombstone that they were historically worthless The vitriolic nature of these stories prompted Bat Masterson’s declaration in 1907 that “Wyatt Earp. . . has excited by his display of great courage and nerve under trying conditions, the envy and hatred of those small-minded creatures with which the world seems to be abundantly peopled, and whose sole delight in life seems to be in fly-specking the reputations of real men.”2
One of the problems was that Wyatt Earp left the field of his high drama largely in the hands of those who sympathized with his enemies. The Earps left Arizona in 1882, and most of those who supported them in Tombstone either departed with the collapse of the silver boom or kept their silence. State histories treated Earp as an outlaw, and the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society reinforced that perception.3 The stories that appeared in the popular press were even more bizarre, so strange in fact that it is almost impossible to recognize the Tombstone war in what they wrote. After the Sharkey-Fitzsimmons fight in 1896, Earp endured a rash of sensational tales about his early life, including a widely read newspaper account by Alfred Henry Lewis, the popular writer who later befriended Bat Masterson.4 Wyatt Earp chafed under the repeated attacks, and his periodic interviews with newspapers failed to stem the flow of bad press.
In 1922, Frederick R. Bechdolt published When the West Was Young 5 which included the story of Wyatt’s Tombstone years. Bechdolt provided a reasonable chronology of what happened at Tombstone, but he badly garbled the basic facts. Although he clearly admired Wyatt Earp’s courage, he characterized the Earp-Clanton troubles as the falling out of partners in crime. One of the effects of the publication of Bechdolt’s work was that Forrestine Hooker, the daughter of Henry Hooker, the Arizona rancher, sought to write a “correct” version in response. The Hooker manuscript was never published, but it appears to have been the first work in which Wyatt Earp actually played a role. In the end, he was cool toward the project, and it was never published. 6
In addition to Bechdolt’s work, Earp had been incensed by the publication of an article by John M. Scanland in the Los Angeles Times. At the time, William S. Hart, the cowboy actor and Wyatt’s friend, ably defended him in a letter to the editor, but five years later Wyatt tracked Scanland down and confronted him personally. Scanland, who had no idea Wyatt Earp was still alive wrote a retraction. “It does beat the band how the truth will be warped and misstated over the years,” he wrote to Hart.7 Eventually, Hart and Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, Wyatt’s third wife (the redoubtable “Sadie”), persuaded Wyatt to have his story written.
As a result of these pressures, he enlisted the aid of John Flood, a young friend of his, to help him produce the ‘true story.” Flood took endless stenographic notes from his conversations with Wyatt, worked with him on maps of the notable events in his life, and sought to draft a manuscript from the labors. Unfortunately, Flood was no writer. The finished product was hopelessly stilted, melodramatic, and just plain badly written. Wyatt vainly tried to have it published, largely through the aegis of Hart.8 By the time Walter Noble Burns published The Saga of Billy the Kid in 1926, Hart had realized the hopelessness of the effort to publish the Flood. When Burns approached Wyatt about writing his life’s story, Hart urged him to collaborate with Burns, but Wyatt waffled, still hoping to place the Flood.9
Earp tried to persuade Burns to redirect his attention to Doc Holliday and did share some information with Burns, while urging him “please to say as little as possible about me. . . .” 10 Eventually, Flood urged the collaboration as well, but Burns’ book, Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest, was already in press. Earp tried to stop publication. He felt betrayed, but in fact, it was a missed opportunity. Tombstone was a compelling work. Burns elevated the story of Tombstone to epic levels and, despite its romanticism, provided a compelling portrait of Wyatt Earp as ‘the lion of Tombstone.”
Wyatt was blind to the positive portrayal in Tombstone, but the final indignity came when William M. Breakenridge’s Helldorado: Bringing Law to the Mesquite, ghost written by the Western novelist, William MacLeod Raine, was published in 1928, portraying Wyatt as a desperate character.11 This may have been one of the reasons that he responded to the inquiries of a young journalist named Stuart N. Lake who had read Burns’ book while recuperating in a San Diego hospital. Lake began a collaboration with Wyatt that was all too brief, lasting only a few months before Wyatt died on January 13, 1929.12
Lake proceeded in spite of the setback, watched like a hawk by Wyatt’s Sadie. Eventually, in 1931, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal was published. It was heralded as a major biography in the reviews, and the image of Wyatt Earp as heroic defender of law and order became fixed in the American mind as a result. What gave real power to the work was a series of lengthy quotes from Wyatt himself describing the events of Wichita, Dodge City, and Tombstone. The book had the appearance of solid documentation, and the reviewers said so. Calling Frontier Marshal “unique among American biographies,” Florence Finch Kelly fairly gushed in the New York Times Book Review:
His method of narration, by means of the memories quoted directly and the conversations orally reported to him by his subject and other eyewitnesses, all of which he had taken pains to substantiate by checking one against another, makes this biography of the famous gun-fighting marshal of frontier days exceptionally vivid, colorful, and dramatic. The book, because of these qualities and the paths the author has taken to make it authentic is a notable contribution to the history of our Western and Southwestern frontier.13 Lake’s work was a tour de force that accomplished several notable things. He was among the first writers to actually look at the documentary records of Wichita, Dodge City, and Tombstone. He provided the first real chronology of the Wichita and Dodge City years, along with a cogent portrait of life in the cowtowns. He also presented a variety of testimonials to Wyatt’s prowess as a peace officer and character as a man. Lake added vivid detail to the Tombstone story and presented a powerful case in support of Wyatt Earp. He transformed Burns’ “lion of Tombstone” into an American hero.
From the beginning there were dissenting voices. The following year, Frank C. Lockwood published his history of Arizona in which he called Wyatt Earp a ‘very crafty and suave dissimulator.”14 William McLeod Raine, Breakenridge’s ghost writer was one of the most vocal critics of Lake, not only raising the issue with Houghton Mifflin, but also expressing his contempt for Lake’s work widely among his friends.15 Floyd Benjamin Streeter openly challenged some of the claims for Earp in his writings on the cattle towns of Kansas, and Eugene Cunningham, Western novelist and author of Triggernometry: A Gallery of Gunfighters, joined the fray.16
Eugene Manlove Rhodes, the cowboy novelist, agreed with Lake’s critics, but added that “it is highly improbable that Wyatt deliberately lied. Lying is a coward’s vice–and Wyatt was a brave man.”17 Others were not so kind. Arizona journalist Anton Mazzonovitch, and a host of Arizona pioneers, including J. C. Hancock, challenged Lake’s view. 18 Several old-timers, including Tom Masterson, the brother of Bat, and Pink Simms, an old cowboy, openly expressed doubt that Earp “ever said those things.” 19
The Lake image prevailed, however, in part because it was such a compelling story and provided a believable hero for many searching for heroes during the Great Depression and in part because, as Don Russell pointed out in 1949, it seemed to have documentary support.20 But there was a fatal flaw in Lake’s masterpiece. Oddly, it was Lake himself who confirmed the suspicions of those who doubted the authenticity of Wyatt’s quotes. Burton Rascoe, the biographer of Belle Starr, who openly admired Lake’s book as “the best written, most credible, and most thoroughly absorbing of all the existent books about famous peace officers and notorious bandits,” wrote Lake about his suspicions. Lake replied that Earp had been inarticulate,” that “in speech, he was at best monosyllabic.” As a result of his labors, Lake admitted, he felt ‘journalistically justified in inventing the Earp manuscript.” Rascoe added, “This book may be faked from beginning to end, but I don’t believe it is, and if it is, it is a magnificent job of fakery–a creative work of first-rate ingenuity, in fact.” 21
One of the young writers who was outraged by Lake’s book was Frank Waters. He met Alvira Sullivan Earp, the widow of Virgil Earp in 1932, and began a collaboration with her to publish her story. He also spent six months in Arizona, talking with old-timers and poring over the files of the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society. He returned home convinced that Wyatt Earp was a liar and a scoundrel. Allie’s story now had another purpose–to set the record straight about the Earps. He blended her reminiscences with the results of his research. The problem was that she had said, proportionately to the rest of her story, very little about Tombstone. Her story shifted into the background as he built his case. When he submitted his manuscript, “Tombstone Travesty” to “Aunt Allie,” she was outraged at its flagrantly anti-Earp tone and swore that it was all a “pack of lies.” So, he shipped the manuscript off to the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society where it was filed away and largely forgotten. 22
Waters resurrected the story of Miss Allie in 1946 with publication of The Colorado. There, he denounced Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal as ‘the most assiduously concocted piece of blood-and-thunder fiction ever written.” 23 As it turned out, The Colorado was a portent of the future. In the 1950’s interest in Wyatt Earp was revived by The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, a weekly television series on ABC Network, and Lake’s view prevailed in the works of that decade. Still, the rash of television “westerns” almost guaranteed a reaction critical of the gunfighter.
In 1955, Edwin V. Burkholder, an old-time writer who specialized in stories about the West, published an article in Argosy Magazine, which not only denounced Wyatt Earp as a coward and a murderer but manufactured evidence to prove it. Here was fakery in its most blatant form, designed to be as outrageous as possible. Writing under the pseudonyms “George Carleton Mays” and “J. S. Qualey,” Burkholder also filled the pages of the new popular Western magazine, Real West with sensational claims about Wyatt Earp’s villainy, and even manufactured fake letters to the editor from supposed “old-timers.”24
A more responsible attack on Wyatt Earp appeared in 1956 when William MacLeod Raine revived his criticism of Earp in an article called “Wyatt Earp. Man Versus Myth.” There, Raine concluded: “I think that as the infirmities of the years overtook Earp his ego resented the thought of slippers by the fire. His mind dwelt on the past and his turbulent role on the young lawless frontier. As he reconstructed those days, imagination embellished facts and the Wyatt Earp who emerged was much taller in the saddle than the real Wyatt Earp.” 25 Before decade’s end Wyatt Earp, along with his friend Bat Masterson and others had been denounced as ‘fighting pimps” in Time Magazine, and prestigious American Heritage had published Peter Lyon’s frontal assault on “The Wild, Wild West.”26
The time was auspicious, then, for a major new work on Wyatt Earp, and taking advantage of the trend, Frank Waters recovered his manuscript, “Tombstone Travesty,” from the Arizona Pioneers Historical Society and set about transforming it into a book he originally entitled “The Earp Gang of Tombstone.” He supplemented his earlier work with new research gleaned from his friend John D. Gilchriese, a collector and student of the Earp story. But he could not resist the temptation of altering Allie’s story. When The Earp Brothers of Tombstone was published in 1960, it appeared to be a revelation from an insider, the widow of Virgil Earp. Combined with a mountain of old-timer commentary critical of Earp and charges about Earp’s abandonment of his second wife, Mattie, and her subsequent suicide, the effects of the book were devastating to the image of Wyatt Earp. Waters’ view seemed overpowering in the face of Aunt Allie’s indictment. Ramon F. Adams then the acknowledged expert on gunfighter literature, declared, “At last we have a book which dares to tell the truth about the Earps, refuting many highly romantic and imaginative tales told by Burns and Lake.”27
Hard on the heels of The Earp Brothers of Tombstone, Ed Bartholomew published two books on Wyatt, Wyatt Earp: The Untold Story and Wyatt Earp: Man and Myth. Bartholomew’s books were openly anti-Earp and written with the intent of destroying the image of Wyatt Earp as hero. The case was made, not by reasoned argument, but by the accumulation of anti-Earp facts, rumors, gossip, and innuendo piled on top of one another until the effect was somewhat overwhelming, not to mention tedious to follow. But, Bartholomew’s work confirmed the trend toward “debunkery,” and soon the academic community was jumping on the bandwagon of the “fighting pimp” image of Wyatt Earp. 28
Almost overlooked in the process was a small book published in 1967 by a subsidized press in Texas. Its title, The Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp, was an unfortunate mistake, but for the few Earp students who found it and read it, Glenn G. Boyer’s voice seemed to offer a balanced alternative to hero-worship and debunking. He presented documents about Mattie Earp’s suicide that supported Waters’ view that Wyatt had abandoned her, and, at the same time, he offered a positive view of Wyatt Earp’s career which made sense and did not succumb to hero worship. Over the years, Boyer persisted in a series of articles in which he made his case and appeared to be a refreshing voice of reason making the case for responsible stewardship of the historical record.29
The publication of books by Waters and Bartholomew combined with Nyle H. Miller and Joseph W. Snell’s Why the West Was Wild (which presented newspaper and documentary evidence of Wyatt Earp’s Kansas years that suggested that his exploits had been exaggerated or made up), convinced many that all that could be said about Wyatt Earp had been said, at least until John D. Gilchriese, the acknowledged Earp authority whose massive collection of Earp materials, included John Flood’s notes, the Virgil Earp diary, and a mountain of other materials, finished his book for Alfred A. Knopf. The imposing collection of Gilchriese thoroughly intimidated the field.30
It was Boyer who broke the deadlock with a blockbuster book. I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, published in 1976 by the University of Arizona Press, shook the field of gunfighter history. Here was yet another view by an insider that appeared to reveal vital new insights into the Earp-Clanton troubles. Boyer’s work was crafted in such a way that, as editor, he criticized, corrected, and disagreed with the “author,” Josie Earp. It appeared to have balance, and sported all the academic accoutrements - endnotes, bibliography, and a review of the Earp controversy which seemed to put the whole story into perspective and suggested that here at last was a serious work of history.
Boyer “exposed” both Lake and Waters for tampering with the memories of Wyatt Earp and Allie Earp respectively and chastised both authors for manufacturing quoted material out of whole cloth. It was a formidable performance, and soon I Married Wyatt Earp was being required as supplemental reading in U. S. history classes at universities and colleges. Lake and Waters now seemed so extreme that it was difficult to imagine how either of them had been so readily accepted by previous generations.
Boyer followed his book with a series of articles, most of them including new “revelations” of Mrs. Earp about the controversial events in Wyatt’s life, explaining that these matters had been deleted from the original book for editorial reasons.31 In the process, he was widely recognized as the leading authority on Wyatt Earp. Subsequent writers, including Paula Mitchell Marks and Richard Maxwell Brown, both academics, accepted much that Boyer wrote without question.32 In 1993, Boyer published Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta, presented as a “nonfiction novel,” based on the account of a newspaperman identified as Theodore Ten Eyck, and followed this with a fourteen-part series in True West Magazine entitled ‘Wyatt Earp, Legendary American” which also identified Ten Eyck as a source in a straight biographical format.33
These works proved to be Boyer’s undoing. Several scholars in the field were skeptical of Boyer’s work, but not until 1994 was he openly challenged. Jeff Morey published a critique of Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta in the NOLA Journal in which he suggested that Ten Eyck was not a real person. Boyer’s response to Morey provided few answers and raised more questions that eventually challenged the authenticity not only of Vendetta but also of I Married Wyatt Earp.34
Eventually, Boyer would admit that most of the charges of his critics were true and in a moment of pique declared that because of his connection to the Earp family, he “had a license to say any darned thing I please for the purpose of protecting the reputation of the Earp Boys, which I committed myself to do. I can lie, cheat, and steal, and figuratively ambush, antagonize, poison wells, and all of the others [sic] things that go with a first class Vendetta, even a figurative one.”35 In short, the memoirs of Josie Earp, like those of Allie Earp and Wyatt Earp, were not the first-hand recollections they appeared to be.
And so over time, each of the three “watershed” works of what students of the field describe as ‘Earpiana” were eventually discredited, and essentially for the same reason. Lake, Waters, and Boyer each had access to a principal figure in the Earp story, the first two through direct contact and interview, the last by way of a manuscript of recollections which came into his possession from members of the Earp family. All three writers did significant research and had access to important information. All three were disappointed in what they received from the participants, and all filled in the gaps by puffing words in the participants’ mouths.
Stuart Lake found Wyatt Earp reluctant to talk and suffered the disappointment of Earp’s death before the project was completed. Frank Waters was first charmed by Allie Earp’s story, then, when he realized who she was, disappointed that she did not talk more about what happened in Tombstone. Glenn Boyer found himself with a manuscript that barely touched Tombstone at all and had limited interest and sales potential because of it.
Of the three, Stuart Lake was perhaps the least culpable. He was not a historian. His work contained no footnotes, not even a bibliography. He wrote at a time when the Western gunfighter was “Clio’s bastard,” a subject seemingly unworthy of treatment as “real history.” Moreover, he had to build the Earp story largely from scratch. There was no significant body of literature on which to draw. No doubt, he was enamored of his subject. He was frustrated over Earp’s untimely demise, and he was burdened with the presence of Sadie who zealously guarded Wyatt’s reputation and still criticized the result.
Yet, in Frontier Marshal, Lake bluntly criticized the “mythmakers,” singling out Burns and Breakenridge among others. He even quoted Wyatt as saying that the 1896 Examiner articles “appeared in print with a lot of things added that never existed outside the reporter’s imagination.”36 Lake presented himself as a revisionist setting the record straight in contrast to the fictioneers of the past. He created argument against the inaccuracies of the past that even impressed some of the toughest critics of Western historical writing. Lake admitted later to Rascoe that his intent was to find “a method that would stamp mine [his book] as authentic. Possibly it was a form of ‘cheating.’ But, when I came to the task I decided to [employ] the direct quotation form sufficiently often to achieve my purpose. I’ve often wondered if I did not overdo in this respect.”37 So when Lake put his conclusions, opinions, and imagination into Wyatt’s mouth to give them far more impact than if Lake had said them himself, it was a conscious act of duplicity.
Frank Waters had the problem of the true believer. His was a quest to destroy the “killer” in the American soul, to expose the Great American Myth which justified the economic and political exploitation of the American land and people and the “streak of violence imbedded in our nature as a people.” To him, Stuart Lake’s book perpetuated that myth and was an affront to the real pioneer spirit. Exposing Wyatt Earp as “a blackleg, a gambler, and a coward” took on a greater purpose. Based upon his research, he no doubt believed that he had found the truth, but Allie would not confirm it and in fact adamantly refused to lend her name to his conclusions. After he and John Gilchriese found the inquest records on the suicide of Mattie Earp in 1959, Waters returned to Los Angeles and, according to his own late statement, ‘told Aunt Allie of our findings and she finally revealed the skeleton in the Earp family closet…. Aunt Allie then told me of more happenings in Tombstone.” Actually, Aunt Allie had died in 1947, twelve years before Waters discovered the Mattie Earp documents! “Tombstone Travesty” was rewritten for publication in 1959, and all of the things that Allie had refused to talk about all those years before now flowed from her mouth - posthumously.38
The most remarkable thing about Waters’ decision to add to what Allie had said was that he knew what Lake had done. He wrote that “while Lake’s book largely comprised allegedly verbatim quotations from Wyatt, Lake in his letter to my publishers affirmed that Wyatt never dictated a word to him. . . . Thus Lake admitted sole responsibility for the biography’s fictitious contents.” 39 And still Waters pursued the same course, mindful that his indictment of Earp would be stronger from the mouth of Earp’s sister-in-law and certain that the end justified the means in the advancement of his cause. Hildreth Halliwell, the relative with whom Allie lived in her last years was blunt about it: “I get so mad every time I think of what Frank Waters wrote after spending hours with Aunt Allie getting the true facts that I guess I go berserk.”
Glenn Boyer began his work on the recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp with full knowledge of what Lake and Waters had done. In 1975, a year before I Married Wyatt Earp was published, Boyer wrote concerning Frontier Marshal: “We cannot tell how much of this book is Lake and how much is Wyatt, in common with the failing of Waters’s book, which is that we don’t know how much was Aunt Allie and how much the author.” He enlarged on this theme in the epilogue of his book, and extended his observations yet further in an article in Arizona and the West published the same year. 41
The Cason manuscript and other related materials had come into his hands through the cooperation of the Cason family, but the manuscript was disappointing. Mrs. Earp said almost nothing about Tombstone–and for good reason. She had little first-hand knowledge about the goings-on in Tombstone. She was not the confidante of the principals. She was, like Allie, a nineteenth century woman, and the things she chose to emphasize were not unlike the things Allie told. Like Allie, she was loyal to her husband and brooked nothing that would compromise his reputation, including her own connection to him at Tombstone. What Boyer had was an important document for Earp researchers, but it was not the sort of thing that would have broad appeal to those who were looking for more details about the 0.K. Corral fight, the Vendetta ride, and the other goings-on at Tombstone. He claimed in the epilogue of I Married Wyatt Earp to have had yet another manuscript, identified as the “Clum manuscript” which, he said, included the Tombstone material, but the truth was that Mrs. Earp resisted talking about Tombstone. Indeed, she told Frank Waters’ sister that she intended to write a book about her life with Wyatt Earp “starting with their marriage in San Francisco and up to Alaska etc. and fixing as much as she can Wyatt’s reputation for good.”
As it turned out later, under the scrutiny of his questioners, Boyer admitted that the Clum manuscript which he also called the “Colyn manuscript” was actually a collection of notes, comments, and his own research into primary and secondary sources. In other words, the whole Tombstone section was his opinion of what happened at Tombstone put into Josephine Earp’s mouth. He has sought to justify his course by claiming, after the fact, that I Married Wyatt Earp was a novel, but it was not published as such. It was published by a university press as part of it history list, not its fiction list. In his introduction to the limited edition of the Flood manuscript that he published in 1981, Boyer again addressed Lake’s liberties with the truth, adding, “These comments about Lake are not intended reprovingly. He did what was necessary then, and now, to sell.”43 And so, apparently, did Boyer.
This is the real “Tombstone travesty.” Fakers are nothing new to the history of the American West. The Arizona Bills, Wayne Montgomerys, and Edwin Burkholders are easily dismissed because of their transparent falsehood, but the cases of Lake, Waters, and Boyer were different. All three were men of obvious ability who uncovered important materials and had a chance to make important contributions to an area of history sadly in need of works of real historical credibility. All three were given credit for having made exactly that kind of contribution by reviewers at the time their books were published.
Ultimately, though, instead of maintaining the integrity of their sources, all deliberately changed the voices of their informants. Their motivations, whether journalistic, altruistic, or materialistic, are not the primary issues here. What is important is that the three most important books on the subject of Wyatt Earp, the three books that have had the greatest impact upon the interpretation of what happened at Tombstone, all suffer from the same kind of abuse of the historical record.44
1. Wyatt S. Earp, ‘How Wyatt Earp Routed a Gang of Arizona Outlaws,” San Francisco Examiner, Aug 7, 1896. This was the first of three articles in the series.
2. William B. Masterson, “Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp,” Human Life (Feb, 1907): 9-10, 22.
3. James H. McClintock, Arizona: Prehistoric-Aboriginal-Pioneer-Modern 3 volumes (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1916). See also William Henry Bishop, “Across Arizona,” Harper’s Monthly, LXVI (March, 1883): 493-502, and the same author’s Old Mexico and Her Lost Provinces: A Journey in Mexico, Southern California and Arizona by Way of Cuba (New York Harper & Brothers, 1883).
4. See the accounts of Alfred Henry Lewis, San Francisco Call, Dec 12, 1896 (reprinted from the New York Journal). and Charles H. Hopkins, San Francisco Call, Dec 15, 1896. See also Charles Michelson, “Mankillers at Close Range,” Munsey’s Magazine, 1901, reprinted as a pamphlet by Frontier Book Co., 1958.
5. Frederick R. Bechdolt, When the West Was Young (New York: The Century Company, 1922).
6. Forrestine Hooker, “An Arizona Vendetta: The Truth About Wyatt Earp and Some Others,” Manuscript in the Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California, written circa 1922.
7. John M. Scanland, ‘Lurid Trails Are Left By Olden Day Bandits,” Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1922; “Mr. & Mrs. Earp” to William S. Hart, March 24. 1922, and Wyatt Earp to Hart, Nov 18. 1927, William S. Hart Papers. Seave Center, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
8. For a full discussion of this effort, see Casey Tefertiller, Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend (New York: John Wiley and Co., 1997): 319-324. There are apparently four versions of the Flood Ms in the John D. Gilchriese Collection (Gilchriese acquired most of Flood’s materials). Interestingly, in light of what would later happen, Glenn G. Boyer in the epilogue of Glenn G. Boyer, editor, I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976): 247-252, reviews the Flood-Earp-Lake connection well. Boyer also published one version of the Flood ms as Wyatt S. Earp, Wyatt Earp’s Autobiography (Sierra Vista. Arizona: Loma V. Bissette, 1981). Copies of at least one version of the Flood are in several private collections. See also L. Burr Belden, “Close Friend of Wyatt Earp Tells of Latter’s Life,” San Bernardino Sun-Telegram , April 23, 1956, for comments by Flood.
9. Mrs. Wyatt Earp to Burns, Nov 8 1926, John H. Flood, Jr. to Burns, March 28, 1927; Wyatt Earp to Burns, May 24, 1927, all in the Walter Noble Burns Collection, University of Arizona Library, Tucson.
10. Earp to Burns, March 15, 1927, Burns Collection
11. William M. Breakenridge, Helldorado: Bringing Law to the Mesquite (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1928). Raine had published his Famous Sheriffs and Western Outlaws (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1927) the previous year. It, too, took an anti-Earp approach.
12. Tefertiller, Life Behind the Legend, pp. 325-332. For a full understanding of what transpired, researchers should consult the Lake Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino., California.
13. Florence Finch Kelly, “Wyatt Earp Who Died Sociable,” The New York Times Book Review, Jan 10, 1932.
14. Frank C. Lockwood, Pioneer Days in Arizona: From the Spanish Occupation to Statehood (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1932).
15. W. H. Hutchinson, A Bar Cross Man Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956):319.
16. Floyd Benjamin Streeter, Prairie Trails and Cowtowns (Boston: Chapman and Grimes, 1936); Eugene Cunningham, Triggernometry: A Gallery of Gunfighters New York: Press of the Pioneers, 1934).
17. Rhodes to Raine, Dec 28, 1931, A Bar Cross Man, p.323.
18. Hancock began his crusade against the pro-Earp view following the publication of Bums’ Tombstone (see his comments on Burns in the Hancock Collection, Arizona Historical Society). After the publication of Lake’s book he was quoted widely in the Arizona press. See, for example, articles in the Tucson Citizen, Jan 30, Feb 1-12, 1932. Mazzanovich critiqued Lake’s book in the Brewery Gulch Gazette. See especially issues for Nov 13, 1931, Feb18, March 11, April 15, April 29, 1932.
19. See the Simms letter to Kalez, Sept 30, 1934, in Jay J. Kalez, “Texan Tamer,” Frontier Times, 42 (April-May, 1968): 65; see also Thomas Masterson to Merritt L. Beeson, Nov 23, 1935, Author’s Collection; and Arch O’Bryant, ‘Brother Tells of Colorful Life of Bat Masterson,” Wichita Eagle, July 24, 1928., where Tom criticizes Lake and praises Wyatt.
20. Don Russell, for many years the editor of the Chicago Westerners Brand Book, was noted for his hard-nosed critical analysis of works on Western history. See his review in the Brand Book, VI (Nov 1949): 74.
21. Burton Rascoe, Belle Starr: The Bandit Queen (New York: Random House, 1941): 334-335. Lake’s letter to Rascoe, Jan 9, 1941, is in the Lake Collection, Huntington Library, and is quoted in Tefertiller, Life Behind the Legend, p.333.
22. Frank Waters, The Colorado (New York: Rinehart and Company, 1946). The clearest exposition of the fate of “Tombstone Travesty” is found in the Frank Waters Papers, Center for Southwest Research, which includes correspondence between Waters and the Arizona Historical Society.
23. Waters, The Colorado, p.224.
24. Edwin V. Burkholder, “The Truth About Wyatt Earp,” Argosv (July, 1955): 21-23, 64-70; and George Carleton Mays, ‘What Really Happened at the OK Corral,” Real West, I (Jan 1958): 14-17, 50-51, are representative of Burkholder’s
style. 25. William MacLeod Raine, “Wyatt Earp: Man Versus Myth,” Riders West (New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1956).
26. ‘The Six-Gun Galahad,” Time, LXMII (1959): 57; Peter Lyon, ‘The Wild, Wild West,” American Heritage, XI (Aug 1960): 3248.
27. Ramon F. Adams, Six Guns and Saddle Leather Gorman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969): 670.
28. Ed Bartholomew, Wyatt Earp: The Untold Story (Toyahvale: Frontier Book Co., 1963); Ed Bartholomew, Wyatt Earp: Man and Myth (Toyahvale: Frontier Book Co., 1964); Eugene Hollon, Frontier Violence: Another Look New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), provides one example. Lyon’s “Wild, Wild West,” is still recommended as supplementary reading in some standard U. S. history textbooks.
29. Glenn G. Boyer, The Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp (San Antonio: The Naylor Company, 1967); “The Pen Outdraws the Gun,” Western Writers of America Roundup (April, 1968): 6-8; “The Earp Legend,” Tombstone Epitaph, National Edition (March, 1975): 1, 3.
30. Nyle H Miller and Joseph W. Snell, Why the West Was Wild (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1963); John D. Gilchriese, “The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp,” Cochise Quarterly, I (March, 1971): 3-6; “The Odyssey of Virgil Earp, Tombstone Epitaph, National Edition (Fail, 1968); correspondence in the Robert N. Mullin Collection, Nita Stewart Haley Center, Midlands, Texas; and Gilchriese’s review of Bartholomew’s books in Arizona and the West, 7 (Spring. 1965): 67-68, in which he enumerated some of the items in his collection.
31. Mrs. Wyatt Earp via Glenn G. Boyer, “Did Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday Kill Johnny Ringo,” Tombstone Epitaph, Journal Edition, 2 (1975): 4-6: Glenn G. Boyer, “Those Marryin’ Earp Men,” True West, 23 (April 1976): 14-21; “‘Curly Bill Has Been Killed at Last”‘ Real West, 27 (June, 1984): 32-49, are representative samples.
32. Paula Mitchell Marks, And Die in the West: The Story of the 0. K Corral Gunfight (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1989); Richard Maxwell Brown, No Duty to Retreat Violence and Values in American Society and History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
33. Glenn G. Boyer, Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta; “Wyatt Earp Legendary American,” True West, 40-41 (Oct 1993-Sept 1994).
34. Jeffrey J. Morey, “The Curious Vendetta of Glenn G. Boyer,” Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, XVIII (1994): 22-28; Glenn G. Boyer, “Response from Glenn G. Boyer”, Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History. X[X (1995): 24A; Glenn G. Boyer, “The Boyer Response NOLA Wouldn’t Let You See,” Newsletter of the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association, IV (Spring, 1995): 5-7; Jack Burrows to the editor, True West, 42 (March, 1995): 4;Bob Candland, “Boyer: ‘I Am Not An Historian,” Tombstone Tumbleweed, XI (Oct16, 1997): ; Gary L. Roberts, “Trailing an American Mythmaker: History and Glenn G. Boyer’s Tombstone Vendetta,” The WOLA Journal, VI (Spring, 1998): 8-22, 49-53; Tony Ortega, ‘How the West Was Spun,” Phoenix New Times, 29 (Dec 24-30, 1998): 10-16, 19-20, 22, 24, 26-28; and “I Varied Wyatt Earp,” Phoenix New Times, 30(March4-10, 1999): 10-11. and Jefferson Decker, “Tombstone Blues,” Lingua Franca, 9 (July/Aug 1999).
35. “Ask the Expert on Wyatt Earp,”Historical Research Associates, http://www.his.res.com. 7/22/99.
36. Lake, Frontier Marshal, p.193.
37. Lake to Rascoe, quoted in Tefertiller, Life Behind the Legend, p.333.
38. Frank Waters, “Roots and Literary Influences,” Old Southwest, New Southwest: Essays on a Region and the Literature. Edited by Judy Nolte Lensink (Tucson: The Tucson Public Library, 1987): 14.
39. Waters, Earp Brothers, p.9.
40. Hildreth Halliwell to Mr. Sullivan, Feb 21, 1967;Halliwell to Boyer: Nov27, 1967. copies in the author’s collection. See also Hildreth Halliwell’s recorded interview, Sept 21, 1971, University of Arizona Library, Tucson.
41. Boyer, “The Earp Legend,” p.3; and Glenn G. Boyer, ‘Postscripts to Historical Fiction about Wyatt Earp in Tombstone,” Arizona and the West, 18 (Autumn, 1976): 217-236.
42. Naomi Waters to Frank Waters, Friday (Sept 9, 1938?), Waters Papers. Also informative is the correspondence between Mabel Earp Cason and Eleanor B. Sloan of tbe Arizona Pioneers Historical Society, found in the Mabel Earp Cason Collection, Arizona Historical Society, Tucson. The manuscript, by Mrs. Cason and Vinnolia Earp Ackerman was entitled “She Married Wyatt Earp.” It touches on Tombstone only briefly, and that portion has little to do with the Earps.
43.Boyer, “Introduction,” Wyatt S. Earp, pp. iv-v
44. Shillingberg, William, Tombstone, A.T: A History of Early Mining; Miling, and Mayhem (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1999); Allen Barra, Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998); Donald Chaput, Virgil Earp: Western Peace Officer (Encampment: Affiliated Writers of America, Inc., 1994); Steve Gatto, Wyatt Earp: A Biography of a Western Legend (Tucson: San Simon Publishing, 1997); and Roy B. Young, Cochise County Cowboy War: A Cast of Characters (Apache, OK: Young & Sons Enterprises, 1999).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Glenn Boyer has written that he has in his collection of Earp documents the true memories of Allie Earp. He says that Mrs. Earp dictated this account, Aunt Allie Remembers, to Mrs. Charles Lavonne Miller) Griffin. Griffin was the daughter of Bill and Estelle (Edwards) Miller. Mrs. Miller was the daughter of Bill and Adelia (Earp) Edwards. Mrs. Edwards was the Earl brother’s sister and a dear friend of Allie Earp.
Maybe some day these adventures will be published. It would be interesting to see what Aunt Allie told her other biographer.