Losing Something in the Translation

Researchers suspect that Glenn Boyer made up much of what appears in Josephine Earp's memoir I Married Wyatt Earp. Boyer contends he lost a controversial manuscript he says he drew from to recount Josephine's years in Tombstone.

For Josephine's life after she left Tombstone, Boyer relied on a manuscript he does have, a document Josephine prepared herself in the 1930s with the help of her cousins Mabel Earp Cason and Vinnolia Earp Ackerman.

The so-called Cason manuscript was seen by few collectors until 1994, and a side-by-side comparison of the manuscript and Boyer's edited version has never been published. The example below suggests Boyer used a heavy hand in his editing, almost completely disregarding Josephine's own words in some sections.

In the Cason manuscript, Josephine details her misgivings about Wyatt Earp's role in refereeing the famous 1896 Bob Fitzsimmons-Tom Sharkey world heavyweight championship fight in San Francisco. She not only reveals her own fears, but describes a worried, regretful Wyatt Earp. Boyer's version eliminates these rare glimpses of the Earps as complex people. Boyer's Josephine reports less about her private life and instead opines about the public battle over her husband's actions.

--Tony Ortega

Josephine's account from the Cason manuscript:
In December of 1896 the great event in sports was the fight between Tom Sharkey and Bob Fitzsimmons. There was a ten-thousand dollar purse and interest ran high among men of all classes.

For some time prior to the fight its promoters had been attempting to decide on a referee acceptable to Martin Julien, manager, as well as brother-in-law, of Bob Fitzsimmons. Wyatt's name had been mentioned in that connection once or twice and he had spoken of it to me. He was not anxious to undertake the job for he knew that Julien was hard to please and had shown suspicion of everyone suggested thus far. . . .

I spent an anxious evening wondering how the fight was going. I knew that feeling over the outcome was intense and that betting was high. I phoned to a newspaper office once or twice to hear the progress of the fight and when it was over, to my nephew, who had been in attendance, to learn the details. I knew that, in any event, it would be late before Wyatt would be free to come home.

My nephew told me that Sharkey had been given the decision on a foul and that there had been trouble over it. He told me none of the details but said that Wyatt, in giving the decision to Sharkey, had aroused a great deal of animosity. He assured me, however, that from his point of view it was the only one fair under the circumstances, even tho it had meant to him the loss of his own wager.

"There was some other trouble, too," he added. "But he'll tell you about that when he comes home."

When at last Wyatt arrived I knew at once that something was seriously wrong. He seemed tired and depressed.

"Sharkey won by a foul," he replied in answer to my look of inquiry. And then he told all the details of the evening.

He had been wearing a revolver every day when he went to the tracks at Ingleside. All the other racing men had been carrying weapons too for there was a gang of thugs who frequented the saloons near the track. Sluggings and robberies had been numerous and the men sometimes went out there before daylight, returning after dark. Most of them at one time or another carried large sums of money so they considered it wise to go armed against possible attack.

Wyatt had gone straight from the tracks to Goodfellow's Grotto, he had phoned me, and from there to the Mechanic's Pavilion where the fight was about to begin.

He entered the ring with no thought of the revolver on his hip, made a short speech informing the more than twenty thousand fans assembled there of his reluctance to undertake the job and assuring them that, in spite of the suspicion and distrust felt by many, he intended to give a fair and impartial decision, as it should appear to him.

Then he pulled off his coat and vest exposing to the gaze of the multitude the revolver in its holder at his hip! It was immediately called to his attention by a thousand clamoring voices. Embarrassed beyond measure, he handed it to the Captain of Police. While it would be obvious to anyone who would think soberly for a moment that, had he intended any use of the gun, he would certainly not have worn it thus prominently displayed, still he knew that many would misinterpret the fortuitous circumstances.

"O, why didn't you remember to take your gun off before you went in there?" I asked in the unreasoning way we have in the face of worrying occurrence.

"I am certainly sorry I didn't," he replied, "but I was so excited about having to referee the fight that I forgot it was there. Wearing it all day I don't feel the weight of it and am no more conscious of its being there than of my coat or my vest. I wouldn't have had it happen for anything. Even though it was an accident it will be hard to convince some people that it was, in view of the way the decision went."

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