Scott Dyke, a former Wall Street broker, banker, businessman and investigator who retired to southern Arizona, has had an up close and personal look at the Glenn Boyer collection relating to Wyatt Earp, his family and his contemporaries. Wild West asked Dyke for details. This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Wild West magazine.See "Not Married to Wyatt Earp" on HistoryNet for a recent interview with Boyer.
What exactly are you doing with Boyer’s collection?
I guess collation would be the proper response. I read all his files and put the material in proper places and order. The files are then scanned and categorized on disc.
How long have you been at this?
I have been hard at it going on four years. It has consumed hundreds, if not a thousand, hours of my time, but I have enjoyed it immensely. I also have logged many additional hours of conversation and e-mails with Glenn.
How did this all get started?
This is a classic Boyer story. I sat down with Tombstone historian Ben Traywick many times in my gathering of research on Earp and Tombstone. Ben would mention Boyer’s name often, and I eventually got Boyer’s phone number from him. Ben cautioned that Boyer could be difficult, but he gave me “passwords” of sorts. When I called Boyer, he was not very receptive about meeting me. In desperation, I told him that Traywick wanted me to deliver a message. Boyer growled, “What the hell did that ridge-runner say?” I answered, “Ben told me to tell you that you are full of $#%@!” He laughed pretty hard. That was the beginning.
You knew of the controversy regarding Boyer and his writings?
Oh, very much so. I have read all the attacks and counterattacks. That was part of the motivation for me to seek him out—so I could see his work myself.
Have you reached any conclusions about the collection?
First, let me underline the fact that I continually retained a “show me” mentality. I entered this undertaking with no preconceived notions about Boyer, his files or his critics. I wanted to determine what the truth was, wherever that may have led me. That said, the collection of files, pictures and tapes, both audio and visual, is staggering in volume. Glenn keeps everything. He was, and still is, an excellent and relentless researcher.
There is this history of steady contact with Earp relatives and Earp genealogists dating back 60 or more years—also families of other notables of the Earp saga. Several people of note that fall into this category would be the Mabel Carson family, Mrs. Beeson of Dodge (her father-in-law was Chalk Beeson, good friend of Wyatt’s and owner of the Long Branch Saloon), and Mrs. Esther Colyn (nee Irvine), supreme Earp genealogist. She gave Glenn a mass of papers before she died. The Miller family contributed much in the way of Wyatt recollections, not to mention a lot of Wyatt’s personal effects. Estelle Miller was the daughter of Adelia Earp, Wyatt’s sister. Estelle’s husband, Bill, was a constant companion of Wyatt during his later years roving the California desert. They had much to tell. Boyer’s files show he had an extremely close relationship with the Millers.
Also of note is information from, just to name a few, the Haroney family (Big Nose Kate), the Hollidays, Clantons and McLaurys, and the families of Wyatt’s first two wives. Boyer’s files also reveal the sales and donations of much Earp stuff, including Earp’s bio (the Flood manuscript) and Josie’s original story (the Cason manuscript). I saw both in Dodge City. Glenn gave permission for me to examine them, as they are sequestered by the Ford County Historical Society. There is no doubt of their originality, as far as I’m concerned. That is also the opinion of the president of this noted historical society.
What of critics who accuse Boyer of being a faker and a fraud?
I really don’t care to enter into any judgmental discussion. They have their beliefs and, I assume, their own body of work. I can only comment on what I have seen of Boyer’s collection. What I’ve seen so far has been quite impressive. Of course, I would be delighted to see anyone else’s work in the Earp field.
Can you share any new revelations?
I must honor Boyer’s mandate concerning some of what I’ve seen. However, there is one new item I can tell you about. The original Cason manuscript has been claimed to be owned by several in the field and has been much debated through the years. Upon rummaging through Boyer’s boxes, I discovered original typewritten notes by the two women who were writing Josie’s biography. These notes can be easily recognized as original because of their age and some individualistic characteristics. The telling point was the comments penciled in the margins by the women, and by Josie herself. Obviously, they were included with the manuscript when Glenn got it from the family.
Any other comments on Boyer and the Earp field?
I think your readers should know that much of what is known about Wyatt Earp emanated from Boyer’s research and writings. Some of the so-called common knowledge on people like Big Nose Kate, Mattie (Wyatt’s second, common-law wife), Louisa Houston (Morgan Earp’s wife) and Sheriff Johnny Behan (Wyatt’s nemesis in the Tombstone story) would probably not have come to the fore without Boyer’s digging and writing.
Glenn has always maintained that some of his collection “grew legs and took a hike.” I can easily believe that happened. He has also taken some heat from his writing style. His responses about protecting Earp family sources make sense to me. The closeness of his relationship with them is well documented in his files. There is a lot of oral history that got passed to Glenn by relatives who had firsthand contact with Wyatt on a regular basis. This, too, has been criticized by other writers and historians. But why shouldn’t oral history count? Most of our accepted take on famous people and events have morphed from oral history.
Do you plan on writing about Earp yourself?
No plans on any Earp book. Maybe I ought to write a Boyer book—he is more interesting than Wyatt.
How long will it take you to finish collating Boyer’s files?
I don’t know how long I will be. Several years ago, I contacted a prominent purchaser of stuff from Boyer. He was familiar with the volume of boxes, etc. When I told him what I was doing, he asked me how old I was. Upon reflection, I now know what he was trying to tell me.