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Glenn Boyer Answers Six Questions About Wyatt Earp

By Wild West magazine 
Originally published on Published Online: October 01, 2009 
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Glenn Boyer answers some of the oft-asked questions posed by Wyatt Earp fans. This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Wild West magazine.

Why didn't Wyatt "get" Ike Clanton, Peter Spence(r) and Johnny Behan during his 1882 vendetta?
He sure as hell tried. He was after Spencer when he killed Indian Charlie at Spencer's wood camp in the Dragoons. Wyatt told the family that he sicced J.V. Brighton [Brighton was credited with shooting Ike dead off his horse in 1887] on Ike, via Wells Fargo. Local newspapers in Apache County thought Wyatt did the deed at the time of Ike's demise. Johnny Behan more or less escaped Wyatt's wrath because he was protected by his prominence. He put a hurtin' on Behan later on in Globe, Arizona Territory, when he knocked him on his butt.

Why do you think Wyatt killed Cowboys supporter John Ringo?
He said so in his memoir, the Flood manuscript.

Why would Wyatt hide the fact he killed Ringo?
He had no warrant on Ringo. With charges against him for the Frank Stilwell killing on March 22, 1882, he did not need additional problems with the law; and, of course, there is no statute of limitations for murder.

Where did he kill Ringo?
Up Turkey Creek Canyon, a ways from where Ringo's body was placed. Wyatt put Ringo at the base of some oaks close to the old wagon road so he could be found. Wyatt did not want a repeat of Curly Bill's death, which was covered up by the Cowboys.

How many men did Wyatt kill?
We know for sure that he participated with others in the 1878 shooting in Dodge City of George Hoy, whose wound led to amputation of an arm and then to his death. Wyatt killed another man in Indian Territory. He shot Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton [during the famous Tombstone gunfight]. Later, Frank Stilwell bought it at the train station in Tucson. Wyatt told Bill Miller he was quite proud of that killing, as he believed Stilwell was one of Morgan Earp's killers. Wyatt and his posse gunned down Indian Charlie in the Dragoons. Curly Bill took the business end of Wyatt's shotgun at the springs. Ringo got waylaid in the Chiricahuas. Another desperado went down when Wyatt, later on, was guarding for Wells Fargo, according to the son of detective Jim Hume. There could have been considerably more killed in Wyatt's vengeance ride.

An old-timer I talked with in the late 1940s in Great Falls, Mont., told me about his adventures in early Cochise County. He—I wish I could remember the old boy's name—wasn't a Cowboy gang member, but he knew a lot of them. He told me he cleared out of several states when he heard that Earp was in the vicinity. He conjectured that Wyatt and his posse did in any men known to be affiliated with those guys. You can bet that Cochise County has a lot of undiscovered graves.

Is the provocative cover photo on I Married Wyatt Earp really Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp?
I put out a booklet years ago on that picture, with all the possibilities mentioned. Actually the publisher made the decision for the cover. My take? If its not her, it ought to be.

5 Responses to “Glenn Boyer Answers Six Questions About Wyatt Earp”

  1. 1


  2. 2
    Melissa says:

    I think Wyatt "boosted" his numbers. He was his own biggest p.r. man and seemed to perpetuate his myth. The people he took credit for killing weren't around to tell their stories.

    • 2.1
      Darius says:

      Wyatt was not proud of the men he killed! Because of this, i believe we can modestly estimate the actual number of men he killed to be anywhere from 10 on the conservative side, up to 15 or more.

  3. 3
    Michael Denoyer says:

    I read everything I get my hands on about Wyatt Earp. I enjoy Mr. Boyer books. I think Wyatt Earp was a man of his time not always good and not always bad. it was a different times in settling the west but I believe Mr Earp made a difference in a good way.

  4. 4
    Jireh Goldsmith says:

    Thank you! I need this for my 6th grade social studies assignment. It is really hard to find books about this in Montgomery, Alabama. My dad loves this kind of western themes! Thanks again.

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