First of all, it is good to see you around. As we all age, you wonder what happened to folks. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life in a beautiful part of the country.
A few weeks ago, you accused me of being biased in my evaluations. All I can say is that my goal from start to finish was to avoid bias. I attempted to write a fair and accurate analysis of everything. I tried to approach the subject as an old-school journalist, letting the evidence dictate the conclusions. Almost three decades later, I still think I succeeded in doing that.
If I did have a bias at the beginning, it was probably against Earp. My grandfather had been a cowboy in the early 20th century, and he had heard old bunkhouse stories about how Earp was really the bad guy. He passed these on to me, when I was a child.
As you know, with the help of several researchers, I dug out an enormous amount of information that had not been seen for more than a century. I also learned that some of the most revered sources in the field with false. It was an exercise in separating fact from fiction. It has been disappointing that several more recent writers have quoted falsehoods from fictionalists.
One of the standing beliefs when I started working on the Earp book was that the cowboy problem had been greatly exaggerated, first by Clum in the Epitaph, then by Lake in Frontier Marshal. Bartholomew made this claim, then it was repeated with regularity. I located previously unknown government records that demonstrated that not only were the claims not exaggerated, they were underplayed. The outlaw depredations were worse than either Clum or Lake indicated. Even Steve Gatto came to accept that.
One of the most important parts of LBL is the Spicer Hearing. Before LBL, no one had put the hearing together and showed the ebb and flow of what happened. When this is done, it becomes clear the hearing was not fixed and the district attorney, Price, was not an Earp patsy. In fact, it was Ike Clanton’s hired attorney that ran the prosecution.
What I came to realize was that the case against Earp falls apart under scrutiny. This is not to say that Earp was a gem of a person. Yes, he worked in brothels before Tombstone and probably leased rooms to prostitutes in Alaska. The 1911 bunko stinks, and so do some of his other activities. He broke out of jail. He drank way too much for a couple of decades after being a teetotaler in Tombstone.
My effort was to get the facts straight. For the most part, I believe that I did that.
There were only a few books on Earp readily available in bookstores way back when, The Earp Brothers of Tombstone by Waters, And Die in the West, and I married Wyatt Earp. There were some to be had by... more
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