Tombstone History Archives

 Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

Quiet Wyatt

by Woody Campbell




Brief epilogue: Wyatt Earp was described in 1933 by a Mr. E.L. Stevenson as being a windjammer. Woody Campbell disputes this using quotes from those who knew Wyatt Earp. Here is Mr. Campbell’s response:


Yes, in older slang, a “windjammer” was a long-winded person, or a great talker. However, according to everyone who knew Wyatt Earp, he was anything but a “long-winded” person. So, it seemed likely to me that this Stevenson person, whoever he was, must be referring to Wyatt as being some sort of a sailor man. In any case, Stevenson clearly never knew Wyatt Earp.


Pink Simms letter to Jay J. Kalez, September 30, 1934


… he [Wyatt Earp] was rather a quiet sort of person with many likeable qualities.


W.B. Masterson Famous Gun Fighters of the Western Frontier, 1907


I have known him [Wyatt Earp] since the early seventies and have always found him a quiet, unassuming man, not given to brag or bluster…


John Clum It All Happened in Tombstone, October 1929


Wyatt’s manner, though friendly, suggested a quiet reserve… Frequently it has happened that men who have served as peace officers on the frontier have craved notoriety in connection with their dealings with the outlaw element of their time. Wyatt Earp deprecated such notoriety, and during his last illnesss he told me that for many years he had hoped the public would weary of the narratives — distorted with fantastic and fictitious embellishments — that were published from time to time concerning him, and that his last years might be passed in undisturbed obscurity.


Dodge City Times July 1877


He [Wyatt Earp] had a quiet way of taking the most desperate characters into custody which invariably gave one the impression that the city was able to enforce her mandates and preserve her dignity.


William Hunsaker 1931


His [Wyatt Earp] conduct as a peace officer was above reproach. He was quiet, but absolutely fearless in the discharge of his duties.


Judd Riley July 1930


Earp was a fine-looking man, with drooping mustaches that curled up at the ends. He was quiet in manner and never created a bit of trouble.


Arthur M. King


Earp was a very quiet fellow — a fine man, one of the coolest I’ve ever seen.


Fred Dodge October 1928


Through all the trying times I never knew Wyatt Earp to be other than quiet, cool, and courageous.


C.H. Baily September 1924


Earp helped a lot to make this great Western empire the place it is. You wouldn’t think so, though, to hear him talk, because it’s like pulling teeth to get any personal information out of him.


Stuart N. Lake 1941 letter to Burton Rascoe


He [Wyatt Earp] and I got on beautifully. He talked freely to me, that is answered my questions fully and freely, but it just wasn’t in the nature of the man to speak at any length. He was delightfully laconic or exasperatingly so.


Raoul Walsh 1915


I tried to draw both [Jack London & Wyatt Earp] men out about their own doings. Neither wanted to talk about himself…


James Cairns 1929


He [Wyatt Earp] was the most dependable man I ever knew; a quiet, unassuming chap who never drank and in all respects a clean young fellow.


Billy Dixon


Wyatt was a shy young man with few intimates. With casual acquaintances he seldom spoke unless spoken to.


Josephine Earp Cason manuscript


It was beginning to dawn on me that I had married a man of more than ordinary attainments and character, but years were to pass and I was to live many decades in daily contact with this quiet, unassuming person; I was to hear many repetitions of the great deeds of his career both here and at Tombstone, before a full realization of his greatness was to come to me. I had, during those years in reading of him and listening to stories of him, to learn to distinguish between the true and the false, for a tradition had begun to grow up about his name even here at Dodge in the early days, when writers from the cities of the East came to the town for news of the frontier’s thrilling life. There were fiction writers too who wrote stories around his name which were to become myth and legend almost indistinguishable from the equally thrilling fact stories. It was easy enough for me to sort out the fact from the fiction for, upon hearing one of these tales, I would ask him to tell it to me from his standpoint. Were it myth, he would dismiss it with, “No such thing ever happened, it’s a faked story.” Were it true he dismissed my awe of his courage lightly, “Nothing to it,” he would say, “I was just doing my duty. Any officer would do the same.”


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