Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

Tombstone History Archives

Glenn Boyer’s Response to Vendetta as Published in NOLA

 

Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History (NOLA)

Vol. XIX, No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 1995, pp. 24A, 24B, 24D

 

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Editor’s Note: In the October-December, 1994, issue of the NOLA Quarterly, an article, “The Curious Vendetta of Glenn G. Boyer,” by Jeffrey J. Morey, was printed and which discussed the research of Mr. Boyer. Mr. Boyer asked for an opportunity to respond and he was invited to make a point-by-point response. The following is what was received by the Editor from Mr. Boyer for publication in the Quarterly.

 

You are authorized to publish the enclosed notarized statement from Jeanne Cason Laing, of which there was a copy in the Erwin/Chafin file I sent you, since it responds to what I consider the most important matter: the authenticity, or not, of I Married Wyatt Earp. Jeff mentioned that Larry Tritten, a magazine writer, had written an article in which he quoted an alleged Earp relative, Mrs. Susan T. Caulfield, as having said that the book I Married Wyatt Earp was not Josie Earp’s memoir and was “bunk.” Jeff had previously seen the following Laing statement many times, but apparently doesn’t think it is conclusive. (Regarding that alleged relative, I wrote to her, as Tritten should have before he published her allegation, and never received a reply. Others may wish to try, her address is 22 Aberdeen Ave., Cambridge, Mass.; if you get anything out of her, let me know. In addition, Tritten didn’t phone Jeanne Cason Laing, as I asked him to - maybe for fear of getting his butt chewed).

 

    [From an affidavit dated September 21, 1983, sworn to by Jeanne Cason Laing]:

 

“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to verify that the manuscript on the life of Wyatt Earp, consisting of 434 pages and signed by me on the first and last page, is one version of a manuscript written by my mother, Mabel Earp Cason, and my Aunt Vinnolia Earp Ackerman before their deaths.

 

“In 1967, after reading the objective account of Wyatt Earp by Glenn Boyer, entitled ‘The Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp,’ and at his request, I sent him this manuscript, along with other versions and various letters, etc., amount [sic] to a stack of papers almost a foot high for his use in publication of the Earp story. This is a satisfactory XEROX expression of this material and has numerous notes in my mother’s handwriting. Much of this manuscript is used verbatim in Mr. Boyer’s book entitled, I Married Wyatt Earp.

 

“My mother and Aunt were aware of the earlier 'Clum' manuscript covering the Tombstone years and, for that reason were willing to burn that portion of their manuscript at Mrs. Earp’s request. My Aunt had written that portion.

 

“I believe the book edited by Mr. Boyer is bonafide in its entirety and is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of Mrs. Earp’s character and personality. I knew Mrs. Earp quite intimately in her older years. She stayed in our home for long periods of time and we were very fond of her, though she could be trying at times (I was the young girl mentioned in the restaurant incident in the introduction).

 

“I understand this letter is for the purpose of accompanying the material for inclusion in the Special Collection of the University of Arizona Library and authenticating my mother’s manuscript accompanying it.”

 

Jeanne reinforced that OLD affidavit with a second one to the editor of American Cowboy, which was the periodical that printed Tritten’s article in which the allegation appeared that Josie Earp’s memoir was bogus and bunk. I offer the second statement of Jeanne Laing as much for its interest as history as to reinforce the first, which I don’t think needs reinforcement.

 

[From a letter dated June 19, 1994, sworn to on June 27, 1994, by Jeanne Cason Laing]:

 

“Dear Glenn, Thank you for sending me copies of the Larry Tritten articles from the Chicago Tribune dated July 19, 1992 and from the Premier Edition of the American Cowboy Magazine.

 

“He makes the statement that ’someone’ who ‘claimed’ her great uncle had married Josie Earp’s neice had insisted ‘they were not her memoirs and a lot of it was bunk.’ I find that statement most interesting, since I heard from Josie Earp herself a great deal of what was in the book.

 

“I was in my last years of high school and early college when I knew her best. She stayed with us many times and made her home with my aunt and uncle for a period of time. This was during the years that my mother, Mable Earp Cason and my Aunt Vinnolia Earp Ackerman, both professional writers were, at her request, writing her memoirs.

 

“I, along with my sister Rae Cason Lindsay and brothers Walt and Leonard Cason, were all at home a good deal. I was in high school and college, my sister in medical school and the boys both in high school and college. We liked to start her reminiscing. I, who was probably there most of those years, remember quite a lot of her stories. I have heard her tell the one about the bonnet more than once. I was allowed to ’sit in’ on many of the formal interviews. I loved listening to her and I love history.

 

“My family and I have appreciated your handling of the material we sent you after the two Earp sisters had died.

 

“It angers me to see someone who obviously hasn’t much regard for authenticity try to play games with history. My mother, Aunt Vinnolia and Josie were all attempting to portray life in the old west as it really was from a woman’s point of view.

 

“I guess with the new movie coming out we will be hearing from more nut cases whose wild imaginings will completely obliterate the simple truth. Eventually, no one will really know about the charming and aggravating little girl who ran away from a good home and into ‘the wild west’ to find the love of her life, but who never forgot that she was Josephine Marcus of San Francisco. As she grew older, she felt she should clear the record, both for herself and her loved one. This was not easy for her to do, but it is her story told as she saw and lived it. She told it to my family and me straight from her mouth to our ears.”

 

The actions of myself and Jean [sic] elicited the following response, published in American Cowboy.

 

[From a letter to the editor of American Cowboy Magazine by Larry Tritten, published in the September/October 1994 edition, pp. 10 and 12, in response to a letter to the editor from Mr. Boyer]:

 

“Glenn Boyer says of my essay on Wyatt Earp that ‘Tritten dismissed the book I Married Wyatt Earp as bunk, echoing a letter he uncritically accepted, along with a dark hint that the memoir was spurious.’ Actually, I merely said that I have a letter from a woman who says that Josephine’s niece married her great-uncle, who ‘insisted that they were not her memoirs and it was a lot of bunk.’ The purported dismissal of the book should be credited to that great-uncle, not me, since I freely admit to having quoted him with a purely skeptical attitude, which is to say a suspension of any personal belief in the matter due to insufficient knowledge or evidence. I do think that pinning down the truth about history, recent no less than remote, is about as easy as putting a party hat on a bobcat. But having talked to Glenn, who also sent me a copy of his book, which is impressively detailed, makes me think that the memoirs are authentic and the product of hard and conscientious research, that the great-uncle may well have been one of those cracker barrel codgers full of wind and blather. How much Josie painted the lily is anybody’s guess, Glenn’s as well as mine. My advice to Earpophiles is to get the book, forget about Hugh O’Brian and the like, and watch out for those great-uncles. But to keep an open mind all the way around.”

 

I consider it fairly typical of the type of harassment that is encountered in Earp research that Tritten, apparently stung by having to modify his buncombe, repeated the same “bunk” allegation later in an article in American Legion magazine, making no reference to his “taking down” by me and Jeanne in American Cowboy, but instead saying that I’d merely “hotly denied” the charge. I presume he wanted to indicate to the public, as a form of petty spite for having his wrist slapped, that the best I could do in response to his fearless investigative reporting was blow my cork. On the contrary, the editor of American Cowboy was provided a reasoned response, which led to Tritten’s having to recant. I later advised the editor of American Cowboy that the retraction was fine, but added my opinion that the whole thing was reflective of the unethical, irresponsible, slipshod appeals to inflammatory allegations of the now-it-can-be-told variety that have generally soured the public on the press.

 

That was not the end of that, however. Tritten’s second article to American Legion elicited the following response from Jeanne Laing’s brother, Doctor Walter Cason, as follows:

 

[From a purported copy of an unsigned letter dated September 29, 1994, from Walter D. Cason, M.D., to American Legion Magazine, concerning an apparent article on Wyatt Earp in its October 1994 issue]:

 

“As a distant relative of Wyatt I feel I must respond to the statement that was quoted in this article regarding the book I Married Wyatt Earp to the effect that this was not her memoirs, and that it was a lot of bunk.

 

“My mother was an Earp, her father and Wyatt being second cousins. Wyatt died when I was too young to remember, but Josie lived with us off and on from 1936 to the early forties. As a teenager I used to drive her around southern California. She was an elegant, charming, and interesting old lady who could also be most agravating [sic] at times. She was totally dedicated to the memory of Wyatt, usually referring to him as ‘my husband.’

 

“My mother wrote one of the two manuscripts that the book I Married Wyatt Earp was based on. Mother’s manuscript covered the years after Tombstone, came directly from the mouth of Josie Earp and were corroborated by independent research. Mother eventually shelved the project and after her death my father gave the manuscript to Glenn G. Boyer who we believe is a careful researcher and historian.

 

“I have no first hand knowledge of the other manuscript the book was based on, although I remember the man who wrote it as a very close friend of Josie’s.

 

“Regarding their marriage, Josie told Mother they were married on Lucky Baldwin’s yacht off the Southern California coast. Mother could not substantiate this and doubted they were ever legally married. After weathering some early stormy times they lived together 47 years, apparently very dedicated to each other.

 

“I am amazed at the continuing interest in the Earp story after all these years, and how polarized peoples [sic] opinions still are.”

 

If NOLA is genuinely interested in historical information, as contrasted to innuendo, naked speculation and allegations, I will provide you more, of a fascinating nature, from time to time.

 

The significant, but easily overlooked, points to note from the above letters, with respect to Morey’s reflections on the authenticity of I Married Wyatt Earp, are:

 

1. That both Jeanne and Walt knew, from Josie Earp’s relations with their family in the 1930’s, of her earlier work with which I supported the editing of the book, I Married Wyatt Earp. As I recall Morey mentioned the lack of such earlier work as the “questionable” part of the “Jewel in my Crown.” There was no lack of such earlier work. It can be presented upon need. I simply had learned not to trust other Earp researchers before I foolishly gave away copies of that as I had almost everything else.

 

2. Walt’s letter also opens a new line of speculation for all of us. He refers to the earlier ms. done by Josie with “a close friend,” rather than referring to Clum or Parsons, as his sister did.

 

There is new mystery here that bears added investigation which I am pursuing. Josephine, typically, had different relations with every person she knew, due to an enigmatic, secretive personality, and such was the case with Josie’s relations with the Cason family, and that of Mrs. Cason’s sister, Vinolia [sic] Ackerman, who worked on I Married Wyatt Earp with Josie and her sister, for a number of years.

 

The question in my mind now is: did the man I introduced in Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta, heavily disguised[1] as Ted Ten Eyck, provide the guiding hand in both his and Josie’s earlier Ms., since their wording is almost identical in places? Further, Jeanne Laing recalled seeing the man whom Josie never identified or introduced, who drove her around Los Angeles, and the man her aunt Vinolia [sic] referred to as “an old timer” that Josie spent so much time with when Vinolia [sic] and her husband carried Josie to Tombstone for research in the 1930’s. Were those one and the same? Was the man Ted Ten Eyck? Was he as secretive as Josie, not wishing her friends to know who he was? It should be apparent by now that this man is still a great mystery to all of us, in some respects.

 

This is as much an explanation as I choose to offer just now, for my choice of a device to bring what I knew of and from him to the public in a non-fiction novel. What was available was too precise to be called a historical novel, though I now see that the liberties I had to take would have been entirely unquestionable if I had simply said the thing was a historical novel, and as close to the truth as we’ll ever come, in my opinion.

 

Accordingly, confronted with NOLA’s printing of an unprecedented attack on my effort to inform, the attack itself being what is actually an inadequately informed and misguided piece, as I feel the public will agree when the facts are all in, my first reaction was: “Who needs this? This is the height of ingratitude. Why don’t I finally admit I’ll never set and keep the picture straight while under the restraints imposed on me, and get some peace by simply carting this whole mess out and burning it, assuring thus that I never change my mind? I can at least make some money by making a video tape of the blaze and selling it.”

 

What would have gone up in smoke? About 30 linear feet of letters, many holographic; clippings and scrapbooks; documents; audio tapes made by me with significant, fascinating people, mostly now dead; a few hundred photos, both published and unpublished; even pressed flowers in old books and diaries; some knitting, would you believe (?); the ribbon Josie wore in her hair when she ran away from home on that dismal rainy, long-ago day in San Francisco - scare [sic] out of her wits; Wyatt’s fair attempts at both drawing and watercolors, among other similar, startling things not generally known to the public or even my past associates.

 

I assure you I simply don’t give a damn anymore. If people are genuinely interested in lawman history, I suggest they refrain from further actions liable to kill the goose that lays the Golden Eggs. They are far from all laid yet. And we are talking here about the pre-imminent lawmen of them all as far as reputation goes.

 

For the rest, at this time, I will explain only one example of Morey’s erroneous reasoning: He conjectures that my letter to Stuart Lake proves that I didn’t know the Earps yet at that time, unable to conceive the actual fact, which is that the letter was written with and at the suggestion of the Earps, to smoke out Stuart Lake. (It must sound convincing enough to smoke out anyone.)

 

At my leisure, since I am working on other things, I may reveal added pertinent information that similarly opens vistas to many other logical explanations of what Morey has placed his own interpretations on, and much more. I may not, too. It is my position that I am not compelled to reply to any part of NOLA’s article now or ever. It happens to suit my purpose at this time. Nonetheless, every once in awhile I toy with the idea of torching the whole mess and getting some rest. That includes melting down the guns with a cutting torch, which would probably net us both a visit from irate collectors. I plan to beg for mercy in that event and say it was all your fault and Morey’s.

 

Footnote

 

[1] So heavily disguised, that I portrayed him as a newsman, which he wasn’t - but what he said, nonetheless is not changed by that, however, some of Morey’s finest detective work goes up the flu as a result, doesn’t it?

 

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