Longform

How the West Was Spun

Page 9 of 11

"I am absolutely certain that what this says right here [the Harry Jones conversation] is close to what was said by the person that said it."

And that was based on something the Millers told Boyer?
"It was based on something somebody said," he says with a shrug. "I'm not saying that goddamn thing was sitting in Josephine Earp's manuscript in that form."

It's Boyer, then, who explains the bogus newspaper story, not Josephine Earp?

"Of course!" Boyer shouts, and he sneers when it's suggested that passing off one's words as the memoirs of another seems like questionable work for a historian.

"I have never promoted myself as a historian," he replies.
Is I Married Wyatt Earp the first-person account of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp?

"Hell no. I already made it apparent that I had to stabilize the system of language in the whole thing," he answers, referring to the book's explanation that Boyer was forced to make Josephine's manuscripts consistent with each other.

Doesn't the University of Arizona Press think the book is a first-person account?

"Not necessarily," he answers.
New Times asked the University of Arizona Press to comment on I Married Wyatt Earp, but acting director Christine Szuter didn't respond.

Boyer has changed his story about how and when he lost the missing manuscript, which appears to lend credence to the charge that he never had it to begin with.

In a 1985 letter to researcher Truman Fisher, Boyer said that he'd lost the manuscript by 1972, when he moved from Hawaii to Arizona, four years before the publication of I Married Wyatt Earp.

"Fortunately, I had a first draft done," Boyer wrote.
Boyer says now that he lied in his 1985 letter to Fisher and that he lost the manuscript in 1972 but regained it before the publication of I Married Wyatt Earp, only to lose the manuscript again.

In 1995, to the utter astonishment of Earp researchers, Boyer wrote a letter to a history association saying that his copy of the missing manuscript was "alive and well."

Asked about his 1995 claim, Boyer points at his scalp.
"It is alive and well," he says. "In my head."
Repeatedly, Boyer has announced on the Internet that he can prove to any visitor to his ranch that his documents collection backs up all of his writings.

Boyer offered to show New Times his collection. After setting up a video camera to record the event, Boyer brings out a pile of folders filled with yellowing documents and aging photographs. With a flourish, he presents the materials as proof that his critics are lying about him.

The largest pile of documents is the Cason manuscript, a stack of manila envelopes with brittle sheets of paper inside that are the basis for Josephine's post-Tombstone years. Another pile contains Boyer's research of Big Nose Kate, the prostitute who was Doc Holliday's steady companion.

When asked why people should believe the controversial Clum manuscript ever existed, Boyer shows the same two letters he's relied on in the past to satsify his fans. One is a letter from a man who claimed to have seen "all the evidence" supporting I Married Wyatt Earp. That witness, Al Turner, died in 1987 and never mentions the Clum manuscript specifically in his letter.

The other is an affidavit, signed by Jeanne Cason Laing, which states that Laing heard her mother and aunt talking about the now-missing Clum manuscript. Boyer discouraged New Times from calling her, saying she was ill.

But the 78-year-old Laing, reached at her home in northern California where she's recovering from a series of mild strokes, says her affidavit is misleading. She says her mother and aunt told her they never saw any material resembling the Clum manuscript and suspected that Josephine had lied to them about earlier attempts at a book.

Boyer emphasizes that what's really important is the Cason manuscript. He can plop it down on a table any time, proud of the historical significance of what he calls "enough material to keep two or three Ph.D.'s busy for a few weeks."

He's reminded that no one doubts either the validity of the Cason or his ownership of it. It's the Clum that's in question.

"I told you, it has been stolen or otherwise eroded in many, many cases. You don't seem very sympathetic to what's happened to me. I have been fucked over and over and fucking over, and you're trying to hold me responsible for a minor detail that I can't deal with because I don't have the resources anymore," he says.

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Tony Ortega
Contact: Tony Ortega