Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

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Letters part 31(Burned up about Burns)

 

- Hart to Flood, May 26, 1927

 

Dear Mr. Flood:

 

Answering your letter of May 25th, I wish to say that were I Mr. Earp and in Mr. Earp’s position at the present time with my life history at stake as well as considerable revenue involved, I would not hesitate one moment before seeking the advice of a first-class attorney.

 

What you suggest regarding offering the manuscript to the Hearst chain of newspapers or of having it printed for copyright purposes, could be done, but how do you know that Doubleday Page & Co. or Mr. Burns have not beaten you to it and already copyrighted theirs. In my opinion the best way to combat the present situation is to try and stop the opposition in any move they take. They are using something which belongs to you, which is your property. You have notified them that they must not use it, therefore I believe it would be a mistake to try and compete with them in any way. I can only tell you what I would do were I in your position or Mr. Earp’s position. I would seek legal advice immediately.

 

If you know of an attorney who is capable or whom you can trust or if Mr. Earp knows of one, I advise you to see him right away. In case you do not know of one, the address of the attorney I have given you - Mr. James G. Scarborough, Sr. is 1225 Washington Bldg., Los Angeles. Mr. Scarborough is a first-class lawyer and a gentleman and I would trust him with my life.

 

It has been my experience that in all litigation two mistakes are usually made. The first is waiting until it is too late before seeking legal advice and the second is getting into the hands of dishonest attorneys when you do seek it.

 

Having the book printed for copyright purpose would cost like the dickens. You would need to have fifty copies made and you can imagine what it would cost to have that much type set up.

 

I would not mention the Billy the Kid Siringo’s story at all, if I were you, except to an attorney, if you decided to engage one. I believe that is a matter that should be held back until you are ready to make your demands. In my opinion it is evidence on its face of unfair methods if not open piracy.

 

Please remember me most kindly to Mr. and Mrs. Earp. I am sorry that I cannot do something in a personal way to help out the situation. I can only repeat if I were in Mr. Earp’s position I would acquaint the attorney with the facts inside of fifteen minutes.

 

With best wishes,

 

Sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 32 (Hart to Earps)

 

(Hart to Earps, September 19, 1927)

 

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wyatt Earp:

 

Under separate cover I am mailing the book you loaned me. It is highly interesting. I read every word of it carefully and I want to thank you very much for allowing me to read it. I never will be satisfied until we see the true history of Wyatt Earp on the bookshelves of the country. That is what we want.

 

Always sincerley yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 33 (Mr. De Voto)

 

(Hart to Earp, December 16, 1927)

 

My dear friend, Wyatt Earp:

 

I am enclosing a Literary Review that usually contains a worthwhile criticism of new books. On Page 426 you will find a review of the Burns book written by Bernard De Voto. I do not know who this gentleman is but I believe that this is the man you should go after to try to get to write your history. If I were you I would write him care of this publication.

 

He seems to be keenly familiar with Western history. He certainly sizes up the Burns’ book in great shape. What he says is the truth. Outside of your characterization (for which Burns was indebted to you personally) the book is quite common-place. It is not in the same class as “Billy the Kid” but in that book he had Charlie Siringo’s book to follow. I certainly believe that the writer of this criticism, whoever he may be, would be the man for you to get hold of.

 

With best wishes for Mrs. Earp and yourself.

 

Always sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 34 (Wilstach/Hart)

 

MOTION PICTURES PRODUCERS &

DISTRIBUTORS OF AMERICA, INC.

469 Fifth Avenue

New York City

 

March 23, 1928

 

Mr. William S. Hart,

Hollywood, California.

 

Dear Mr. Hart:

 

I am very anxious to secure a photograph of Wyatt Earp for my collection. Cannot you prevail on him to let me have one? I hear, by the way, that he is alive in my old town - Oakland.

 

I am right in the middle of “Tombstone” by Walter Noble Burns. That is a considerable book, and a very much better job than my “Wild Bill” illumination. I understand that Wyatt and Burns are in a row over the royalties, - Wyatt claims, as I understand it, that he should be paid for the information furnished.

 

My boy, by the way, as a story writer, and has been doing westerns for “The Argosy.” He tells me that a vast deal of this “Tombstone” is a rewrite of a book, “The Early Days in Arizona,” which he has in his library, the author of which I forget.

 

I will be awfully obliged if you can prevail on Wyatt to let me have a picture. How is his health these days?

 

Cordially yours,

 

Frank J. Wilstach

 

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Letters part 35 (Hart/Wilstach)

 

(March 27, 1928)

 

Dear Frank Wilstach:

 

Wyatt Earp is at his mine that he owns. The address is Vidal, San Bernardino County, California. It is located on the Colorado River about fifty or seventy five miles above Needles. Write him a letter, as per the above address and it will reach him. He may not come back to Los Angeles for several months, or I would be glad to speak to him personally about the photograph.

 

Yes, there was a row over the Burns’ book and there should be one. I think Wyatt Earp is entirely justified in his contention.

 

With best wishes,

 

Sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 36 (Enter Mr. Lake)

 

- May 4, 1928, Earp to Hart:

 

My dear friend Bill Hart:

 

It is a long time since I have received a letter from you, all of which I readily understand since I believe I have not yet answered your kind message of some months ago. Nevertheless, I like to hear from you occasionally even though I am a poor correspondent. I am interested to hear about the new ranch. You and your sister must be very comfortable there; it is the kind of a place that I would like. The thought I have in mind is that your sister’s health has been benefited - the higher altitude, the clearer atmosphere - I have always thought the site for a home was well chosen.

 

Mrs. Earp speaks of a package which, she says, she mailed to your sister about the middle of March. I believe it was directed to the Newhall address; a little uncertain, and she wonders if it were delivered promptly. So much confusion about that time; the St. Francis Dam disaster occured shortly after - what a terrible affair! We have wondered if you were affected in any way.

 

I have not forgotten your fine letter of December sixteenth last, the copy of the Literary Review together with the criticism of Bernard De Voto. This surely is a belated appreciation but I assure you it is real, and I want to thank you. Neither has your suggestion failed of what purpose I had in mind. Rather my continued ill health has inclined me to a condition of lasitude. And early in January, I was in receipt of a letter from a Mr. Stuart N. Lake, 3916 Portola Place, San Diego, asking for my story. He writes in a modest and unassuming manner, and explains that his material has been used by The Saturday Evening Post, The Outlook, and others. Perhaps you are acquainted with him, or know of him. Will you not kindly advise me in this; I already have promised him an interview upon my return to the Coast. I am inclosing his letter for your review.

 

Also, I am inclosing a letter, under date of April 3rd, received from a Mr. Frank J. Wilstach; you, perhaps, are well acquainted with him. I rather expect to send him a portrait of myself, as he requests. Mrs. Earp sent for a few several weeks ago, and they ought to be on the way.

 

Messrs. Doubleday, Page & Co. seem to have disregarded their promise to me - that the serial rights to the story “Tombstone” would not be sold to others for publication - and did enter into contracts with the Hearst Publications and the Boston Post. There may have been others, I do not know; these being the only concerns which were brought to me (sic)attention. My protests, however, brought courteous responses and prompt discontinuence. It is difficult to reconcile such actions of a supposedly reputable firm with such practices.

 

We are pleased to note your return to the screen, which, a press article of a few weeks ago announced for the near future. This news is gratifying to your admirers, and will fill a vacancy that has been felt for a long while. Surely it is proper that I should tell you this. I say it with all modesty for it is but an echo of the expressions I hear - your friends and admirers - everywhere.

 

Presently I shall be back in Los Angeles; the third week in May at the latest. This has been a late season on the desert for me, both in coming and returning. Mrs. Earp wishes to be remembered; please give our regards to your sister; we trust you both are well. I hope you will write me, I would like to know how you are. I am

 

Your friend,

 

Wyatt S. Earp.

 

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Letters part 37 (Hickok’s hair)

Fri Jul 28 00:26:17 2000

 

- Hart to Earp, May 8, 1928

 

My dear friend Wyatt Earp:

 

It is good to hear from you and while I am sorry to know your health has not been of the best I am glad to know that you feel a whole lot better at this time. I am glad to tell you my dear sister Mamie is doing finely up at the ranch. Her illness has been of such long duration that of course it takes time for her to get back to where she was, but she is constantly improving, constantly getting stronger.

 

Regarding the gift Mrs. Earp sent to my sister, I am at the office right now and cannot see her till this evening. However I distinctly remember her telling me that she had received such a gift and how splendidly it was of Mrs. Earp to so remember her and I have a recollection of her asking me to write to Mrs. Earp and to thank her. I was under the impression that I had done so but I must have failed to carry out my sister’s wishes. I am so sorry. But I can tell you now that my sister was delighted with the gift and very, very grateful about being so remembered.

 

The breaking of the dam was, as you say, a terrible disaster. Only those who were in or near it can realize how tragic it all was. The town of Newhall was not harmed in any way but at one time there were seventy-eight bodies in the little shack that had been converted into a morgue. I do not think it will ever be known how many people really lost their lives. A boy in my employ at the ranch lost his father, two elder brothers, two elder sisters, their husbands and their little children and he, although sixteen years of age, is left to support two little girls aged nine and seven and a younger brother, thirteen and only half of his relatives bodies were ever recovered. One family lost eight members. It was all frightful.

 

I do not know Mr. Lake or have I ever heard of him but he certainly writes a very fair letter and it certainly can do no harm for you to grant him an interview when you return to the coast. If the magazines are accepting his stuff they would simply go crazy over your autobiography. There could be no possible question as to its success. Wilstach is an old newspaper man and press agent that I have known for many years. I remember him criticizing me for showing Hickok in Dodge City. He told me that Hickok was never there. I told him he was mistaken - that if Hickok was never in Dodge City that it was the only town in the country that he ever missed being in, and, that I talked with both you and Mr. Masterson and that you always spoke as tho Hickok was at one time in Dodge City.

 

Those historians gather so much material on hearsay, then suddenly they commence to state it all as fact. I remember Wilstach saying something about Mr. Masterson never having been in Deadwood. I can swear that Mr. Masterson told me that he was in the city of Deadwood at the time of the Custer fight. Of course Wilstach is all right. He means well. He gave me a few hairs that he says positively came from Hickok’s head. I hope they did but I am not making any affidavit that they did.

 

When you return please do let me know. I want Mrs. Earp and yourself up to my place. I will be so glad to see you both.

 

Always sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 38

Sun Jul 30 22:43:31 2000

 

(Earp to Hart, July 4, 1928)

 

My dear friend Bill Hart:

 

Here I am back in the city again; I really am back twice as I arrived in Los Angeles early last month and then I made another trip to the desert. Now I am to go again tomorrow but only for a short period. I have several men working on my property and I want to see that the work is all completed; the summer is getting too far along for comfort out at camp.

 

When I return to the city again I would like to make you a visit; this will be a nice way to answer your fine letter of May the eighth. I enjoyed hearing from you immensely; your letters do me good. The letter from your young friend, which you inclosed, is very interesting. The young people of today, with all their opportunities and advantages, and with the proper guidance and fellowship, develop into splendid grown-ups. It is good to have such fine friends. I am returning the letter here, and I want to thank you for the privilege of reading it.

 

I also want to thank you for your appraisal of Wilstach; I could not place him in my mind. He asked very earnestly for one of my portraits, and I shall see that he gets it. Of course you were correct about Bat Masterson being in Deadwood. He was there, as you say, about the time of Custer’s battle on the Little Big Horn.

 

Mr. Lake came up from San Diego early in June; shortly after my return to the city, and we had a very enjoyable visit - a nice, modest young fellow. Somehow, when he went away, there was a felling (sic) of assurance that he left with me; I like him very much. He is anxious to write the story; wants to begin right away. I shall talk the matter over with him again after I return from the desert.

 

I believe the chord in your letter which struck me most spiritedly is the good news about your sister’s health; such a noted improvement in a comparatively short period - it is most remarkable. Mrs. Earp and I both are so pleased to hear this. We rejoice with you and our thoughts will be holden of better reports - a little time works wonders. Will you please say this to your sister for us, and with our kind regards. We say the same to you and wish that this will be a big year for you - health, and happiness, and success; a lot of it.

 

Write me and come and see us.

 

Your friend,

/S/ Wyatt S. Earp

 

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Letters part 39 (Hart/Earp)

Mon Jul 31 22:45:27 2000

 

- Hart to Earp, July 6, 1928

 

My dear friend Wyatt Earp:

 

I am sorry the boy’s letter was enclosed in the last letter I sent to you. While of course it could do no harm, at the same time, it must have been sort of a puzzling to you as to why I sent it. It evidently was enclosed thru some mistake of my secretary.

 

I am glad Mr. Lake and you got together. I hope he turns out to be the man for the job as the work must be done in the near future.

 

I am glad to tell you my sister is putting up a great fight to get well again and she certainly will too. Just at present she is having a setback. It is a temporary attack and will surely pass; here (sic) general condition is stronger.

 

We will both indeed be mighty glad to see you and Mrs. Earp when you return. Do not fail to let us know when you get back.

 

Always your friend,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 40 (Earp/Hart)

Tue Aug 1 23:32:42 2000

 

- Earp to Hart, November 13, 1928

 

My dear friend Bill Hart:

 

Here we are packing our things again (rather Mrs. Earp is doing the packing and I am looking on) for our annual trip to the desert. As usual, I am becoming a little restive - just so long in the city, then back to the hills again.

 

This is just a little friendly chat before we leave. I have not heard from you in a long while, and I guess I have not written you in a longer one. How are you and what are you doing - and how is sister? I believe she was not so well when you last wrote me; perhaps just a little reaction in the normal course of building back to health again. I trust that is it and nothing more. Mrs. Earp and I both will be pleased to hear that she is on the road upward again.

 

Mr. Lake is making progress with the story. He says there are hopes that it will be finished soon; perhaps before the first of the year. Perhaps early Spring will be nearer correct; that is the best that I am hoping for. Surely he is making a complete and thorough job of it; he has written every one whom I ever have known (and many whom I have not), all of which amuses me and fusses Mrs. Earp. But he knows his business, and I am sanguine that the story will be a winner.

 

I regret to hear of the passing of your friend Charlie Seringo - one of the great scouts in the advance of civilization and the subduing of the frontier. Isn’t it sad that, during this great era of prosperity, life was so ungenerous to him. What a tragedy! Just one more riddle in the great mystery of life - and, for the rest of us, we must carry on.

 

Here is something that will make you laugh: I picked Smith for the winner of the election; just in my mind, you know, so it did not cost me anything - no new hats to buy, nor any peanuts to roll along the thoroughfare with a toothpick, nor anything else to make me wish I hadn’t. It just furnishes my friends a lot of fun by guying me. Hoover will make an excellent President, and the Nation will have no regrets at having chosen him.

 

I shall be glad to have you drop me a line before we leave, which we expect will be on Saturday of this week. We send our kindest regards to you both; particularly do we inquire for your sister’s health. We trust that her condition is such as to make you both rejoice. A message like this will make us glad.

 

Your friend,

 

Wyatt S. Earp

 

P.S. - There was something on my mind, I knew, which almost escaped me: You know, for the past month or so, I have been heckled to death by a reporter of “The…

 

(Ed. note: Unfortunately, the letter I have cuts off here.)

 

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Letters part 41

Thu Aug 3 00:25:19 2000

 

- Hart to Earp, November 16, 1928

 

My dear friend Wyatt Earp:

 

You say you are leaving for the desert on Saturday. This will be posted this afternoon and I sincerely hope it reaches you in the morning before you go away. I can readily understand why both Mrs. Earp and yourself long for the desert. It is the same old pioneer spirit that will never drown while life remains.

 

I am sorry to know that the work is going so slowly on your story because by golly now is the time for it to be launched and if I were you I would urge Mr. Lake to make haste a little. I planted my autobiography while I was east. It will be out in the spring and is to be published by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston. I had a devil of a time to get it accepted as they objected to a great deal of the motion picture material wherein I told the truth. I took out some forty-five thousand words but I believe I am getting over my story at that.

 

Yes, my friend, dear old Charlie Siringo has crossed the Divide. He was a fine man. Just one more old plainsman has gone.

 

Regarding your postscript concerning my taking place in writing a short article for the Evening Express. I might even take a stab at substituting for President Coolidge at a cabinet meeting, but I will be damned if I’d ever have the nerve to substitute for Wyatt Earp in talking of the frontier. No, my friend, I would not attempt it for a million dollars. That is said with all gratefulness that you do so honor me. Let them wait my friend until your book comes out and then let them read it. Let them be on the anxious seat to hear what you have to tell. That will help your story.

 

I am so glad to tell you that my dear sister is getting along fine. She is unmistakably gaining strength right along. I look for this winter to put her right back where she was before this terrible stretch of illness. I feel sure it will do so.

 

I have just returned from New York. I was back there for a month. Everything has piled up during my absence so I am buckling in to get things straightened out.

 

I cannot tell you how glad I am to be considered your friend.

 

With all good wishes for the welfare of Mrs. Earp and yourself, believe me to be,

 

Always sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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Letters part 42 “the bane of my life”

Thu Aug 3 22:48:37 2000

 

- Earp to Hart, December 20, 1928

 

My dear friend Bill Hart:

 

Mrs. Earp and I will have to send you the Holiday Greetings from right here at home. And that does not suit me at all - I mean the home part of it. Because I had planned all sorts of things, right out on the desert. I surely do miss the sun; that would do me a lot of good, but that idea has all gone to smash, for the present, anyhow, and Mrs. Earp has unpacked her trunks. So here I am, flat on my back, and mad enough to say things that oughtn’t to be written on a typewriter; which will not improve my disposition any, so I shall have to be patient and see the thing through.

 

Since writing you last month, the representative of the Evening Express has not returned, so my letter to you must have had its effect after all. And I do not blame you for not wanting to give him a story; that sort of thing is the bane of my life, and I just had to find a way out. Perhaps my health will be back to normal again when this story business is all done with. In fact, I know it will; I never have been so annoyed and upset. I did not want to do it in the first place, but I am in now and I will have to swim out. Mr. Lake has declared repeatedly that the story would be completed in January, and I am hoping that it will. With peace and quiet once more - What a New Year that will be! I do not know what is more to be desired and hoped for than happiness and health. This is the year that the thought has occured to me so many times, and Mrs. Earp and I are going to pass it on - it is the Christmas wish that we are sending to your sister and yourself, and it is magnified many times, and may the New Year add its blessings. Mrs. Earp and I, earnestly, wish you this, both - and our regards. I shall write you from the desert.

 

Always your friend,

/S/ Wyatt S. Earp.

 

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Letters part 43

Sun Aug 6 22:43:16 2000

 

- Hart to Earp, December 28, 1928

 

My dear friend - Wyatt Earp:

 

It is indeed good to hear from you although I am so sorry to know that you did not get to make your usual trip to the desert. I know how disappointed you must be. I also know exactly how you feel about the book. When I tell you that I have cut in the neighborhood of forty thousand words out of my auto-biography that is to be published in April by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston, you will realize how deeply I can feel for you. It is simply murder to go thru it from every angle. Would you care to consider giving Houghton Mifflin first crack at you (sic) book when it is ready? If so will you let me know and I will take up the matter with their West Coast representative immediately. He is located at San Francisco. I have already explained to him about it and he would be mighty glad to read it or forward it on to his firm.

 

It is so sweet of Mrs. Earp and yourself to think of my sister and me at Xmas time. I know that you both wish us well and you may be sure, my friend, that we both wish you all well. It is distressing to me that you are ill. Just as soon as I can get anywhere near straightened out I am going to come and see you. In the meantime, do drop me a line and let me know how you are progressing.

 

With the kindest thoughts of Mrs. Earp and yourself in my heart, I am,

 

Always sincerely yours,

 

William S. Hart.

 

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Letters part 44 “the ten years that are ahead”

Mon Aug 7 23:20:52 2000

 

- Earp to Hart, January 7, 1929

 

My dear friend Bill Hart:

 

This morning’s newspapers announce the passing of Tex Richard(sic). Poor Tex - it seems sad that he should be cut down, or his years cut short, just at the time when life was at its full tide; such is the fate that happens [to] many men when they are going strong. He surely made a success as a fight promoter; one of the best in history. Jack Dempsey has lost his best friend; no one will take the interest in him that Rickard did. His chances now, perhaps, are not so good for the world fight title. All of which reminds us that the world moves on, and age must make way for bouyant, bubbling youth.

 

Only to move back ten years! That would be worth a world fortune. But it can’t be done now; I will have to be satisfied for the ten years that are ahead - and that’s a mighty lot. And I can’t plan anymore to climb the hills and hit the drill. Just now it would seem great to be drowsing out in the sun instead of being right here on my back where I left off writing you last. I enjoy having messages from here, there and all around; your letters cheer me a lot. What is that you said about coming to see me - I have a heavy black underscore to that, and I expect you to make good. So you see, I do more than glance through your letters.

 

Surely if I can do anything towards turning the story to Houghton Mifflin, you shall have that opportunity; I already have sent an inquiry to Mr. Lake in that direction. He, no doubt, has taken some action towards publication, but whether he has made any definite commitments, I have not heard. I shall say more about this to you after he writes me.

 

Mingled with the Holiday cheer, came the sad message that my brother Newton had died. That was just a week before Christmas; he was buried on the Twentieth at Sacramento. Ninety-one years - that is a wonderful age.

 

Forty thousand words! Golly, that must have hurt. Houghton Mifflin must be your friends - they couldn’t have left much but the cover - sounds more like a sketch than an auto-biography. Of course, I expect an autographed copy from the author as soon as the book is off the press.

 

Mrs. Earp wishes to thank your sister for the nice card at Christmas. Indeed we are delighted to know that she has recovered her health. It must have been a glad Christmas for you. And we are wishing that the New Year will be even more full of magic for you both; we add our kindest regards. And you have promised to come and see me.

 

Your friend,

/S/ Wyatt S. Earp

 

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Letters part 45

Tue Aug 8 22:53:09 2000

 

- Hart to Earp, January 8, 1929

 

My dear friend Wyatt Earp:

 

First I want to say that I sincerely hope your health is improving and that everything is going finely with Mrs. Earp and yourself.

 

I wrote to Mr. Leussler, the representative of Houghton Mifflin Company at San Francisco and I am enclosing his reply. By it you will note that they are very anxious to get a crack at you(sic) book. I believe this would be an excellent publishing company to handle it, and this letter shows that they are very much interested. You may keep the letter and turn it over to your co-worker.

 

With all good wishes to you, my friend, believe me to be,

 

Always yours,

 

William S. Hart

 

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- Josie/Hart, undated

 

My dear Mr. Hart -

 

Am enclosing a letter from Mr. Lake, which I was rather surprised Mr. Leussler told him he had spoken with me. If you will recall, it was not agreed that he was not to tell Mr. Lake we had met. I cannot understand that and so am presuming upon your good nature for your valuable advice in this matter. Will you kindly return the enclosed letter to me?

 

I tried to get in touch with Mr. Leussler three times, but was informed he was South and would not be back until the end of the week. I would like to get in touch with him as I cannot get any information from Mr. Lake.

 

Mr. Hart for all your wonderful kindness to Mr. Earp and myself, and it shall be my great pleasure to follow Mr. Earp’s wishes in having his book dedicated to you - a real friend.

 

Trusting you and your dear sister are in good health, I am, with kindest regards,

 

Most sincerely yours,

/S/ Josephine Earp

 

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