I'd forgotten about Emerson. His byline, "Willis George Emerson, Grand Encampment, Wyo, Aug. 6, 1898," is barely readable on a splotchy, microfilm copy of his August 7, 1898, Denver Times article, "Jeff Dunbar, Outlaw," which the Denver Public Library gave me back in the late 1980s, and which I filed away and forgot about. I wonder if Emerson wrote the 1897 "Great Robber Gang" article, or did he just build on it?
I poke around a bit re Emerson -- you probably already know this -- what a story. Novelist, fantast, screenwriter, national political operative, developer, promoter, and swindler.
He was entangled, though never indicted, in a mining fraud in Encampment, where he lived in the 1890s, and in 1917 he was been indicted in a stock fraud case in New York. $1.5 million in stock (about $30 million today) had been sold in the Emerson Motor Company, yes, named after now Colonel Willis George Emerson, which promised to turn out better and cheaper cars than Ford. Having no intention of actually making cars, Emerson never built an assembly plant. Instead it hastily constructed for promotional purposes nine prototypes, which turned out to be thinly disguised Fords, powered by Ford engines with serial numbers and markings removed.
Emerson was dropped from the indictment after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. His confederates were convicted in June 1918. He died in December.
One of his books, The Smoky God, or, A Voyage to the Inner World (1909) purports to be the true account of a Norwegian, Olaf Jansen, who sailed his sloop through a hole in the earth's crust near the North Pole. Jansen lived deep in the earth among 12-foot men for a couple years before returning to the surface.
By comparison, the Jeff Dunbar "high chief" of the Rocky Mountain outlaw universe tale was small potatoes.
Jerry & Dan, The Jeff Dunbar articles were probably all penned by Willis George Emerson, who was known for sensationalizing. Iíve heard a lot of stories about Jeff Dunbar, none were positive. As far... more
August 1897 George R. Caldwell correspondent of the Denver News wrote Bandits of the Border. Similar versions same article, November 1897 The Idaho Daily Statesman, Organized Highwaymen Terrorize... more
Thanks, Jack. Helpful information. Willis George Emerson rewriting George R. Caldwell sounds like Baron von Munchausen borrowing from Marco Polo. By the way, I ran Emerson's name thru a two more... more