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The second volume of  Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend -- Tombstone:  The Legend-Making Years  has already been written, author Lee Silva is currently updating it with new material which has recently been uncovered. 


For now, to whet your appetite, here is the beginning of the first chapter of  the Tombstone volume:







The Reality Behind the Myths and Legend






Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp.

    On the one hand, the name sounds so ignoble, innocuous, and unimposing that it begs to go unpronounced and instantly forgotten.  On the other hand, its very uniqueness cries out to be remembered and become legend.

    The name even seems to be a contradiction of both the legend and the man.

    Earp: The last name conjures up visions of the sufferings of childhood teasings, catcalls, and perhaps even schoolyard fisticuffs.

    Wyatt: It is certainly not a first name that is anything powerful, mysterious, or hard, like a twentieth-century "Rock," or "Rambo," or even "Duke" brings to mind.  It was not even a name that was conveniently ignored by replacing it with a nineteenth-century sobriquet such as "Buck," "Butch," "Slim," or "Dead-eye."

    Wyatt Earp:

    Together, they are not even names that sound as if a legend should be permanently attached to them, like the names of Wyatt Earp's friends "Doc" Holliday and "Bat" Masterson, or other legendary gunfighters of the Old West.


     Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp came into the world in Monmouth, Illinois, on March 19th, 1848, with two middle names seemingly as ignoble and unobtrusive as the first and last names.

    Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp.

    Just a plain-vanilla Illinois farmland name.

    But on that day of his birth began the contradictions and the myths and the facts and the stories and the legends of a man who would become the most well-known gunfighter in the history of the American West.

    And when the man finally died, not in a blazing six-gun shootout, but in bed, of old age, the name and the man had become a legend, and the legend would grow to become an even bigger legend.

    To this day, and probably forever past this day, the myth-makers and the fact-finders cannot agree on much of anything about the life and legend of Wyatt Earp, or even whether the legend began before his death or after it.  The contradiction was there from the beginning, and the contradictions about the man and the myths continue to remain and fester long after his death as more and more research is done and more and more contradictions arise, and more and more fables are accepted as fact, and more and more facts are accepted as fables.


    In Volume I, we have seen how the unimposing beginnings of Wyatt Earp's life came to be the imposing and impressionable seeds of legend.

    We have seen that Wyatt Earp was a lawman who fell from grace as constable in Lamar, Missouri, in 1870 and 1871.  But---, contrary to modern anti-Earp myth and legend---, as a policeman in Wichita, Kansas, from 1874 to 1876, and as a policeman and assistant city marshal in Dodge City, Kansas, from 1876 to 1879, he wore a badge with enough strength, determination, and distinction that his name is now ranked among the legendary ones from the glory days of the Texas trail drives and the Kansas cowtowns of the 1870s, along with his lawman pals Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, and Bill Tilghman, and his gambler/gunfighter friends Doc Holliday and Luke Short.

    We have seen that these were men who were good men more than they were bad men, but that they had to be a little of both in order to be survivors in an era when badge-wearers and gamblers often didn't survive.  We have seen that they were often called good men, but that they were also sometimes called bad men, because they were good enough with their guns to outlive others who weren't good enough with their guns.

    In Wyatt's early years, we have seen a proud man who was also a fallible man, but a man who was never a weak man.  We have seen a man whose quiet self confidence made him a master at intimidating other men, who was a gambler as much as he was a lawman, a trained boxer who combined his physical skills and his gunfighter skills with his icy fearlessness to help keep violence in check in an era when men were violent and violence was commonplace instead of out of place.


    In Volume I, we have also seen the differences between the hard facts of reality and the fermentation of the Wyatt Earp legend during Wyatt's cowtown years.  There were no myths yet because there really wasn't any legend yet. 

    In reality, it was after the Earps went to Arizona Territory in 1879 and made their real legends there that the Wyatt Earp myths began to separate from his legend. 

    And in reality, it was mostly after the publication of Stuart Lake's "authorized" 1931 biography Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, and before the roaring success of the 1955 Wyatt Earp TV series The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp that myth first began to separate the pro-Earp historians from the anti-Earp historians.


    So perhaps the most fitting way to begin Volume II of my own study of the Wyatt Earp legend is to give the reader a preview of the diverse and opposing passions that existed between early pro-Earp historians and early anti-Earp historians during that period of historical ignorance, innocence, and naiveté from just before the turn of the twentieth century to the early 1950s, before the Wyatt Earp TV series blew his legend into myth for all time to come.


    The early twentieth century was a unique period of time in the legend of Wyatt Earp, because there were still men around who knew him or had known him or who had first-hand knowledge of him through friends or even old enemies, a period of time when those who sided with him sung high and loyal praises of Wyatt Earp as an honest lawman and gambler, and those who sided against him cried out in anguish and anger about Wyatt Earp the murderer, con man, and crooked gambler.





     In his February, 1907, Human Life magazine article about Wyatt, his life-long friend Bat Masterson wrote,


“I have known Wyatt Earp since early in the seventies, and have seen him tried out under circumstances which made the test of manhood supreme....

He always arrayed himself on the side of law and order, and on a great many occasions, at the risk of his life, rendered valuable service in upholding the majesty of the law in those communities in which he lived....

Much has been written about Wyatt Earp that is the veriest

rot ....

Wyatt Earp, like many more men of his character who lived

in the West in its early days, has excited, by his display of great courage and nerve under trying conditions, the envy and hatred of those small-minded creatures with which the world seems to be abundantly peopled, and whose sole delight in life seems to be in fly-specking the reputations of real men.  I have ... always found him a quiet, unassuming man, not given to brag or bluster, but at all times and under all circumstances a loyal friend and an equally dangerous enemy." [1] 


Chapter One then continues with further comments about Wyatt Earp from the early pro-Earp historians, and also from the early anti-Earp historians.  It covers the beginning of the Wyatt Earp legend, comments about Wyatt Earp in early newspaper articles, and much more.





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