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Boyer: 'Writing about Earp and failing to mention me and my work is something like writing about Catholicism and neglecting to mention the Pope'
The interviews that follow originally appeared in Wild West, October 1998. Glenn Boyer's body of work includes Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp, I Married Wyatt Earp and Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta. Casey Tefertiller's Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend came out in 1997. These books are all sold as nonfiction; however, each author tells a very different story of Earp's life. In his book's bibliography, Tefertiller does not list any of Boyer's books. Tefertiller and others have questioned Boyer's sources. "Writing about Earp and failing to mention me and my work is something like writing about Catholicism and neglecting to mention the Pope," Boyer has said. In separate interviews with Wild West, each author was given the opportunity to present his side of the controversy. The word "side" troubled Boyer. "The issue is supposed to be the truth," he said. "The truth is one side all by itself and there are no others." Tefertiller said: "I hope Western readers will recognize the importance of this problem and why it is a concern to us all. If we do not demand the truth about history in nonfiction books, there is no reason for studying history at all." The first interview is with Tefertiller, a longtime newspaperman who spent three years writing Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.
What prompted your interest in Earp?
You were able to provide quite a bit of new material about Earp's life.
What do you feel is the most significant piece of new information you discovered?
You've called Stuart Lake's biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, "an adoration" and Ed Bartholomew's self-published two-volume work an "attempt to debunk the whole Earp legend." Why have Earp chroniclers pursued private agendas that promote their own point of view rather than exploring the truth of Earp's life?
Some critics have reprimanded you for not referring to the work of Glenn Boyer, but you found flaws in his research.
Boyer says that much of his information comes from the Earp family and was told to him through the years. Do you have any reason to question that?
What problems did this create for you while researching your book?
Now more and more people are questioning Boyer's work.
Boyer says your Earp biography "only muddies the waters" due to "gross errors" on the first page of your book. How do you account for not mentioning Wyatt's sisters, Louisa's whereabouts at the time her husband was murdered and the discrepancy in the travel date?
Boyer claims that you have said everything written about Wyatt Earp or Tombstone since 1976 is untrue. Did you say this, and if so, why?
Any parting comments?
Following is the interview with Glenn Boyer:
When did you first become interested in Wyatt Earp?
While researching Wyatt's life, what was the most significant or surprising information you uncovered?
So what did you find in your research that knocked the Lake supporters off their pedestal?
You have mentioned meeting Josephine Earp. How did this come about?
How old were you went you met her?
Why do you suppose she did not want to talk about Wyatt?
Did Josephine say anything about her life with Wyatt that you can recall?
You wrote the pamphlet "An Illustrated Life of Doc Holliday" in 1966 and recently added an introduction in which you called the whole pamphlet a "hoax." Why create a hoax?
In the introduction you state that you "kept the gag going," and you did for over 20 years. Why keep it up for so long?
What kind of reaction did you get to your advertisement?
How has this hoax affected the credibility of your more serious work on the Earp saga?
In the foreword to your 1993 book Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta, you wrote that it was based on the unpublished manuscript of a Tombstone newspaperman.
So there was no actual newspaperman?
But in the book you actually said that it was a newspaperman who worked for the Nugget.
What exactly do you mean when you say the Ten Eyck papers were a literary device?
Who wrote these manuscripts?
In a review of Tefertiller's book, you wrote that "it only muddies the waters," and on your Web page you called it a "rehash." If it's a rehash, how does it muddy the waters of Wyatt's life?
Some people might say that Ten Eyck has muddied the waters.
Why didn't you mention in any of you publications prior to 1994 that you actually met Josephine Earp?
So it was family members?
Did you ever ask the family members why?
In I Married Wyatt Earp, which was first published in 1976, you wrote that Josephine Earp had worked directly with George Parsons and John Clum on an unpublished manuscript of the Tombstone section; then in your pamphlet, "Trailing an American Myth," published in 1997, you wrote that this manuscript was actually composed by several authors and that it formed "the basis of the Tombstone years in I Married Wyatt Earp" and "the Ten Eyck Papers in Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta." Then in the pamphlet "Who Killed John Ringo?" also published in 1997, you wrote that fiction writers Dashiell Hammett, Wilson Mizner, Rex Beach and Walt Coburn had written Josephine's Tombstone years' manuscript. Is this all the same manuscript?
But if you are using this as being the source…?
So Josephine got mad at Parsons and Clum?
Mad in what way?
Considering your Doc Holliday hoax and the red herrings you "planted in Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp (which you say was at the Millers' insistence), the evolving authorship of the Ten Eyck papers, and inaccuracies such as placing the Earps in Denver at the time they were in Alaska….
With regard to the Ten Eyck papers and other sources that you've put together, are you planning to publish them intact as they were written so that people will get to see these sources?
They were stolen?
So what are your plans for the future? You're working on The Earp Curse?
And when you get done with The Earp Curse?
Did Wyatt Earp write his own autobiography or was it "as told to" somebody else?
Was it ever published?
So you are going back through the autobiography and going to redo it?
This is the kind of common sense you've got to apply to all these things people are accusing me of….Ninety percent of what I've found is pure gold. Five percent of it is inadvertently wrong, because I just didn't know any better at the time, and much of what I have said that people say is contradicting myself is correcting myself, based upon either being at liberty to reveal things now that I wasn't at liberty to reveal or that I've leaned better now. Now, that's no crap. Five percent of it, I'll tell you, since people have started attacking me is pure bull for the purpose of confounding them.
Any parting comments?
Ten years after this interview appeared, Wild West magazine again interviewed Glenn Boyer. Click to read what the controversial writer, now in his eighties, had to say.
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