Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

Tombstone History Archives

Setting His Sight on Tombstone

An author delves into the detail of the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral

 

Tucson Citizen August 18, 1993

By Peter Pegnam

 

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How did Wyatt Earp and his brothers end up in Tombstone anyway?

 

Who were the secret moneymen behind Wyatt?

 

What really started the deadly affray that came to be called the Gunfight at the OK Corral?

 

When did the voluptuous Josephine Marcus decide to ditch Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan and hitch up with his antagonist, Wyatt Earp?

 

Was Behan, the symbol of law and order, actually behind a fatal stage coach robbery?

 

Who, in the language of a less sensitive era, wore the pants in Wyatt’s household?

 

And why, after more than 110 years, do people still care?

 

A new book answers the first six questions - and more. After reading it, you won’t even ask the last.

 

Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta (Talei Publishers Inc, $29.95, release date early September) collected and edited by Glenn G. Boyer, not only reveals the whys of those turbulent days in the early 1880s, but also puts flesh - warts and all - onto the bones of the characters.

 

“I think the reader will end up knowing Wyatt very well,” said Boyer, 69, who has devoted much of his life to the subject.

 

The core of the book is what Boyer calls the Theodore Ten Eyck papers, an eyewitness account written by a man who knew the real life characters.

 

Ten Eyck is an alias, and Boyer’s decision to follow that course may puzzle some readers.

 

The man he calls Ten Eyck demanded never to have his true name made public, a commitment Boyer said he agreed to when he accepted the papers from Ten Eyck’s son, who died in 1982.

 

Boyer knows that some people may see this as a literary device but states that “the facts presented … are incontrovertible, in that they are confirmed by other sources cited.”

 

“I keep my commitments,” Boyer explained about Ten Eyck during an interview at his ranch house in an isolated area of Cochise County.

 

“I may want people to commit themselves to me in the future. That’ll dry them up and blow their cover. Even if the guy is dead if he asked you not to tell and you did, other peope will hear about it.”

 

Why would Ten Eyck not want to be identified?

 

“If I knew, I might tell you,” he said.

 

“One must consider that it’s entirely probable that Ten Eyck in later years wasn’t proud of the things he’d been involved in at Tombstone, recorded by others than himself, under his true name,” Boyer stated in the book’s forward.

 

Controversy is nothing new to Boyer, who has been researching the Earps and the West since reading at the age of 14 a Chicago Tribune article about Wyatt Earp.

 

Boyer’s first manuscript on the subject in 1964 was met with rejection by skeptical publishers.

 

Beginning in 1943, when he was an Air Force cadet stationed in California, Boyer said, he was introduced to and became friends with Earp relatives, who shared memories, photos and written records. *

 

“Editors refused to credit the possibility that Wyatt had living relatives and suspected I was attempting a hoax,” Boyer noted about his first attempt to sell a manuscript.

 

Now Boyer is the author of nine books and numerous articles, including a 12-part Wyatt Earp biography started in True West magazine in August.

 

Over the years, as the numbers of his books and article grew, Boyer found himself condemned by scholarly critics.

 

Ironically, at the same time, the new information he was divulging was turning up, unaccredited, in other works on Wyatt Earp and becoming accepted as the norm.

 

“The rule is that the less you publish, the greater accord you get as an authority,” Boyer said with more than a hint of sarcasm.

 

Boyer, who is not one to mince words, has no use for the people responsible for “so much bad mouth about me.”

 

He calls them “damn spiteful people who basically are jealous of what I did”

 

“You say ‘Glenn Boyer’ and they say, ‘Oh, yeah, he made all the stuff up.’

 

“I have published extensively. I’ve tried to tell people everything I did. I hoped they’d pick up where I left off and pursue the open leads. I can’t pursue them all.

 

“And all I’ve ever gotten back are brickbats

 

“I think I’ve got a good enough record for turning out history that they ought to have some faith.”

 

Boyer has several file cabinets in his study bulging with private research papers and photographs.

 

While going through folders of photos of Earp relatives and friends (including Ten Eyck), Boyer pulled out a yellowed manuscript typed on old period stationery.

 

This was Josephine Marcus’ attempt at the memoirs of her life with Wyatt Earp. By 1967, Boyer obtained the manuscript and spent several years of research verifying and amplifying it. It was published by the University of Arizona Press in 1976 under the title I Married Wyatt Earp.

 

Some cried fake.

 

And now, “I anticipate the carping over the necessity to maintain the anonymity of informants, especially Ten Eyck.”

 

Over the years other sources - people such as Bill and Estelle Miller, the daugher of Wyatt’s sister , Adelia - also insisted on restraint, Boyer said.

 

“If it got out that we spilled the beans there’d be a lot of family squabbling,” Boyer said the miller would tell him.

 

“Give it 20 years after we both croak,” Boyer said he was told.

 

“It’s been at least that.”

 

The publishers call the book the work of a lifetime and one that reveals what really happened and why.

 

“The book is as close to the truth as you’re ever gong to get, and it’s based on as irrefutable sources as you will ever find,” Boyer said.

 

“You’ve got to consider that this man (Wyatt) is like my grandfather. This is what people don’t concede. Bill Miller was like a son to him. Bill was like a father to me.”

 

*Note: This is in contradiction to what Boyer wrote in Suppressed Murder of Wyatt Earp, when he said he met the Millers in the 1960s, and they knew little about Wyatt Earp’s life and adventures. In addition, in the mid-1950s, Boyer wrote to Stuart Lake trying to locate Earp relatives, which would seem pointless if he already knew them.

CT.

 

Excerpted from True West magazine, July, 1994

 

From: "Tombstone’s Helen of Troy"

Boyer is referring to Josephine Earp.

 

When she was twenty, some sixty-three years earlier, it was a different story. She didn’t give a damn for anything but having her way. Different even, I discovered to my consternation, than I was able to tell in the footnotes I appended to her memoir in an effort to restrain her high-flying whitewashing. I’ve learned a great deal more since. In 1979, three years after the publication of her memoir, I obtained the Ten Eyck papers from the son of a lifelong friend of the Earps who had been at Tombstone with them, a man intimate with them both until the day of Josie’s death; in fact, he had been at Josie’s side when she died. (Unfortunately, it was his emphatic wish never to have the man behind the pseudonym Ten Eyck revealed, to which I had to pledge myself to his son in order to obtain his father’s papers.)

 

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