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Wild West - April 2010 - Letters from Readers

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: February 05, 2010 
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'I was rather shocked to read the interview with Boyer and not see a single mention of the fact that the University of Arizona Press dropped I Married Wyatt Earp from publication'

Walker Look-Alike
If you shaved off the beard, cut the hair and trimmed the eyebrows, Western trailblazer/explorer Joseph Rutherford Walker would pass for a dead ringer of the late movie legend Jimmy Stewart. I really did a double take when I looked at Alfred Jacob Miller's 1837 portrait of Walker on P. 45 of Kate Ruland-Thorne's "Westering Walker" article in the August 2009 issue of Wild West. Compare that Walker picture with a photo of Stewart and see if you don't agree with me and my wife. What a coincidence.

Ken McCracken
Chatham, Ontario, Canada

Walker's Middle Name
I found Kate Ruland-Thorne's article about Joseph Walker very interesting. I had always thought his middle name was Reddeford, and this was the first time I'd heard otherwise. I'm wondering now, is it Joseph Reddeford Walker or Joseph Rutherford Walker? Don Thrapp's Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography lists it as "Reddeford," and a separate entry tells of Joseph Rutherford Walker, a nephew who accompanied his uncle on the prospecting expedition through Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Milt Williams
Boise, Idaho

The editor responds: Although "Reddeford" is found in many references, "Rutherford" seems to be correct. The middle name Rutherford was likely given to the great explorer in honor of a Scottish ancestor, the Rev. Samuel Rutherford. An 1876 obituary used the misspelling Reddeford, and that apparently was the way "Rutherford" sounded when spoken in early Tennessee.

Boyer Basher
I was appalled to pick up the October Wild West and find that Glenn Boyer has once again been allowed a chance to resuscitate his dead reputation. The introduction to your interview with him says that he "has been accused of muddying the Earp research field" and that he is "controversial." Neither word is true. Boyer is not "accused," he is a proven fraud, a word I used in describing him for both The Washington Post and American Heritage. He is not "controversial," he is disgraced.

Your interviewer claims that "detractors question his sources," implying that only those who have had a personal clash deny the legitimacy of his sources. In point of fact, every legitimate writer in this subdivision of Western history has questioned Boyer's sources and found they were correct in their questioning.

I am proud to say that I am one of them. Glenn Boyer's book I Married Wyatt Earp, first published in 1976 by the University of Arizona Press, claimed to be "The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp." The book was and is a hoax—I used that word in describing it in The New York Times, for which Boyer threatened a lawsuit against both the newspaper and myself, one that never materialized. I still stand by the word hoax and invite Boyer to sue.

I Married Wyatt Earp was most emphatically not the recollections of Mrs. Earp but a splicing of the so-called Cason manuscript and plain unadulterated fiction that Boyer successfully passed off as fact for nearly two decades. (The "Clum manuscript," which Boyer claimed for years was his other main source for I Married Wyatt Earp, turns out never to have been seen by any living soul, including the editors of the University of Arizona Press.) I am proud to say that I am one of those who was instrumental in bringing this fraud to light, working with Tony Ortega, a reporter in the 1990s for the Phoenix New Times (now editor in chief of The Village Voice in New York, where he may be contacted for verification).

The depth and detail of Ortega's investigative reporting and how he showed, step by step, how Boyer foisted his lies on the University of Arizona Press can be seen by reading his March 4, 1999, story here. Anyone interested in further research on this subject can contact the University of Arizona school newspaper, The Wildcat, which did an in-depth three-part investigation into Boyer's chicanery.

I was rather shocked to read the interview with Boyer and not see a single mention of the fact that the University of Arizona Press dropped I Married Wyatt Earp from publication, a story that subsequently was reported by numerous publications, including Library Journal, Salon.com and Publisher's Weekly.

I also fail to see any mention of the fact that Boyer's work has since been regarded as bogus by subsequent Earp historians such as Casey Tefertiller (author of Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend), Gary Roberts (Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend), Steven Lubet (Murder in Tombstone) and myself (Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends). In the postscript of the latest edition of my book from the University of Nebraska Press, I offer a detailed description of how Boyer pulled off his scam.

In addition, Paula Mitchell Marks, author of And Die in the West: The Story of the O.K. Corral Gunfight, has re-edited her 1989 book to remove all material based on Boyer's books.

I'm sorry to see that none of these writers—and several more, including Jeff Morey, a much respected researcher whom all of the authors I mention have relied on—were consulted or mentioned in your piece. Instead, for legitimacy, only Boyer's friends Ben Traywick and Lee Silva, writers who have used Boyer's research without question and whose reputations are dependent on Boyer, were cited.

I'm also rather dismayed to see Wild West allow Boyer to slip off the hook by using his usual double talk about why he refuses to reveal his sources. I refer to such double talk as "I had a moral obligation to protect the relatives from intrusions by Earp nuts and writers," thus hiding his own deceit behind a phony cloak of "moral obligation."

Allen Barra
South Orange, N.J.

The editor responds: Asked if he wanted to respond to Allen Barra's letter, Glenn Boyer said he would do so in one word: "Baloney!" Lee Silva, a Wild West special contributor, adds: "I am appalled that a man who is a talented writer would stoop to gloating that he is 'proud' to have attempted to destroy the reputation of a major historian. It seems apparent that Barra's drum-beating about his 'pride' is ample evidence that his real motive for his usual anti-Boyer rhetoric is free publicity more than it is an attempt to set the record straight, especially since Barra has conveniently failed to mention Boyer's book The Earp Curse, which more than adequately debunked Barra's anti-Boyer claims and contrived controversies years ago."

Boyer Supporter
The interview with Glenn Boyer in your October 2009 issue was great. In my opinion, Glenn Boyer is the ultimate authority on Wyatt Earp, with Ben Traywick and Lee Silva following very closely. I know all three of the gentlemen personally, and I value their friendship greatly. They are aces in my book, and it would take four of a kind to whip them. Glenn has been attacked in the past by debunkers and pretenders who question his knowledge and integrity. To these polecats—and you know who you are—I have one thing to say: "See you out in the street at high noon. Come packing."

Marlin "Winchester" Wertman
Muncy, Pa.

The editor responds: Perhaps folks entrenched on either side of the Boyer corral should just pack sandwiches (roast beef preferable to ham or baloney) for a Tombstone picnic some fine day.

Clay Allison Facts
Leo W. Banks' "Wild and Woolly War of Words" in the October 2009 issue includes utter nonsense about Robert Clay Allison published as fact! Clay was not the son of a preacher; row-crop farmer Jeremiah Scotland Allison was his father, not the Rev. John Allison. Clay Allison was not crazy, if Banks intended to imply Allison was insane. He suffered from epilepsy, as diagnosed by a military doctor in Allison's first year serving the Confederacy (Clay was medically discharged). Banks' ditty implies Allison killed John "Chunk" Colbert in cold blood; he did not. The shooting was a case of kill or be killed. Colbert, a northeastern New Mexico badman with seven deaths to his "credit," previously announced Allison was to be his eighth killing. During the meal, Colbert saw a chance to shoot Allison, jerked his revolver, hit the edge of the dinner table, and Clay shot the silly man in the head. I doubt that meal was "enjoyable."

Sharon Cunningham
Samburg, Reelfoot Lake, Tenn.

Author Leo W. Banks responds: I'm kicking myself over this. It particularly troubles me that the preacher reference is nowhere in my notes. But somehow it got into my head. I've done lengthy, complicated stories on the Kid, on Geronimo and others and spent much time making sure I had things right. I pride myself on that. No excuse.

Doc Quote
I am a Doc Holliday portrayalist and researcher, and I suggest another option for Leo Banks' Doc quote on P. 42 of his article "Wild and Woolly War of Words": Doc's Denver lawyer, Colonel John T. Deweese, asked Holliday in 1885 whether his conscience ever troubled him. Doc coughed and replied, "No, I coughed that up with my lungs long ago."

R.W. Boyle
New Castle, Colo.

Kit Carson on DVD
In our August 2009 issue we said that George Seitz's Kit Carson (1940) was unavailable on VHS or DVD. Reader Ondry Smith points out that the film is available on DVD ($10 plus $4 processing) from Golden Age Cinemas, 254 Clark Road, Monticello, FL 32344.

Send letters to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176, or e-mail us at WildWest@weiderhistorygroup.com. Include name, city and phone number.



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