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Casey Tefertiller
A dissenting view on Fred Dodge
Wed Aug 2, 2017 08:31

First, John Boessenecker is one of the great Western historians of our time. His contributions are massive, and I have the utmost respect for him. That does not mean he is always right.

After Bob Chandler and others started questioning Dodge, I began re-examining what he said. Recall that the way he frames his role was that he had spoken to Thacker, and was to report to him exclusively. That would make his role that of an informant, who would report his findings to Thacker. So he would not be on a WF salary, rather receiving occasional payments for piecework, probably from Thacker’s personal discretionary account. Dodge seemed to take his role very seriously, probably well beyond Thacker’s expectations.

I suspect that Thacker saw Dodge as an informant, and Dodge saw himself in a more vital role. With outlawry escalating in Cachise County, Dodge took it on himself to get involved in all that was going on. Recall, there was no text messaging where Thacker could send specific instructions. Dodge and Thacker were a thousand miles apart, and even using telegrams would be too risky for much of the information.

There is a newspaper article (which I have someplace in my files) from 1884, if I recall correctly, identifying Dodge as “Wells Fargo’s Fred Dodge.” No further information. Dodge remained in Tombstone and served as constable and in other roles long after the Earps left. He became a roving WF detective in 1891. It seems pretty likely to me that he would have had to have had some serious connection to WF in order to land that position after being a small-town constable. He would become one of WF’s top and most trusted employees.

In addition, there is the item that Peter Brand discovered, where Dodge swears that he has been employed by WF for years that would stretch back to 1881. It seems unlikely this means he was an occasional posse rider. If, indeed, he was more an informant than an assigned agent, then he was making decisions on the fly as to how best help WF’s interests.

In my opinion, Dodge may have been a little self important and viewed his role as being greater than it really was. Many folks tend to do that.

This being said, I think the case is much stronger that he was somehow in the employ of WF and working for their interests. In order to believe he was not, all of the following must be true.

1 Fred Dodge, later one of WF’s most trusted employees, completely fabricated his connection to WF in the early years, for no apparent reason. In doing so, he would put himself in jeopardy of being called out by his former employer, possibly even publicly humiliated.

2 Dodge lied not only to Stuart Lake, but also to his friends, Wyatt Earp and John Clum in letters that he wrote to them when Lake reconnected them. Frankly, it seems unfathomable to me that he would do something this stupid. Recall this was before there was any discussion of a book.

3 In 1900, he had the foresight to lie on the form that Peter located so researchers a hundred years later would find something to discuss.

In my opinion, the case is stronger that Dodge was involved with WF during the Tombstone years. Obviously, it would be nice to know with certainty, but based on what we have, that is my conclusion.

    • another possibilityButch Badon, Fri Sep 22 12:35
      is that his unvarnished recollections were completely fabricated.
    • Hey Casey..B.J., Thu Aug 3 17:01
      Years ago when I first read the Fred Dodge book. I seem to remember him saying that he had no pictures of himself to publish but he also said he looked a lot like Morgan Earp? Which picture of Morgan ... more
      • Hey, BJCasey Tefertiller, Fri Aug 4 16:23
        BJ, Not sure I have a great answer. I believe that Dodge said he looked like Morgan Earp because he looked like Morgan Earp, and they were sometimes confused for each other. As to the pictures, my... more
        • Lake's source..Jeff Morey, Sat Aug 5 15:22
          B.J. and Casey, It is true that Noah Rose had a fairly large collection of gunfighter photos many of which had been crudely retouched. Rose's Morgan Earp photo was one of those heavily retouched... more
          • Re: Lake's source..Bob Cash, Sun Aug 6 21:09
            Thank you, Jeff. Good to see your expert opinion on this board.
    • 26,000bfrey, Thu Aug 3 11:16
      So why is this figure being put out there, if it was physically impossible for such a large shipment transported? It seems there is some math, calculating problems with what was reported to be going... more
      • Not physically impossible to transport.K.t.K., Thu Aug 3 11:50
        I'm talking about stuffing over a half ton inside the treasure box, where other valuables are placed as well. Incidentally, in June 1879 when the bullion had to be carried all the way from Tombstone... more
    • Fred DodgeJohn Boessenecker, Wed Aug 2 17:31
      Casey and I have discussed this issue many times during the past 20 plus years. I would love to be proven wrong. The problem for me is that Dodge makes so many false statements in his narrative --... more
      • Re: Fred DodgeDaniel Buck, Sun Aug 6 11:56
        For what it's worth, Pinkerton Detective James McParland's opinion of Fred Dodge, from my 2016 post (below) at Old West Rogues. Dan ============================================= Wells Fargo detective ... more
      • Honest FredCasey Tefertiller, Fri Aug 4 16:21
        John, A problem I found with Dodge is one that is common with many folks. Dodge often repeats stories he was told and gives them far more credence than they merit. In other words, he sometimes... more
        • Honest Fred Dodge??John Boessenecker, Fri Aug 4 22:37
          There is no question that Dodge was a well known figure in Tombstone and friend of the Earp boys, etc. But by the time writers started contacting him in the 1920s he had a young son from his second... more
          • Interesting conceptCasey Tefertiller, Tue Aug 8 11:19
            John, Interesting concept. So, the theory is that Dodge was trying to cover up his entirely legal activities by telling a big whopper to Wyatt Earp, John Clum and Stuart Lake? That would not be good... more
            • Fred Dodge in TombstoneJohn Boessenecker, Tue Aug 8 21:05
              Fred Dodge was clearly in Tombstone as a gambler and was a friend of the Earps and lived through all those exciting events. There is no doubt about that. I just find it totally unbelievable that he... more
              • undercoverbfrey, Thu Aug 10 08:24
                The police use undercover people all the time, they are paid by the department for their info, so technically they could say they are employed by a specific agency. I think when Dodge began doing... more
              • The WF station is a comin', comin' Casey Tefertiller, Wed Aug 9 17:53
                John, Not sure why it would matter that the WF office had not yet opened. Wouldn’t you think that WF would want eyes in Cochise County before they would establish their office? That way they would... more
                • Wells FargoJohn Boessenecker, Wed Aug 9 18:23
                  But there were way more stage robberies in California's Mother Lode country in 1879-1882 than ever took place in Southern Arizona during those years. And no one ever suggested that Wells Fargo... more
                  • Thinking like ValentineCasey Tefertiller, Wed Aug 9 20:38
                    John, WF had “friends” and friendly law officers throughout the Motherlode. I read in this great book that Bob Paul was involved with WF long before his move to Arizona. By 1880, WF knew the area,... more
          • Re: Honest Fred Dodge??Bob cash, Sat Aug 5 13:21
            That's an excellent surmise as to why Dodge might have wanted to appear as an undercover man for WF to his wife and son rather than a gambler. I find the same kind of thing in my research on Texas... more
            • Re: Honest Fred Dodge??Bob Cash, Sat Aug 5 13:32
              On further reflection, while I believe John Bossenecker's supposition that Fred Dodge, in the 1920's may have wanted his new wife and their son to believe he was a secreyt agent for WF in Tombstone... more
              • Fred Dodge Ranger applicationJohn Boessenecker, Sat Aug 5 14:06
                In Fred Dodge's Special Ranger application dated 1900, he states his experience as "20 years, Special Officer Wells Fargo & Co." This is technically true because of his posse duty for Wells Fargo in... more
      • Dodge's assertionsbfrey, Thu Aug 3 11:00
        Fred Dodge in his recollections has connected the dots to some of the Earp story in Tombstone, if his statements are truthful. The statements he makes does nothing to prop him up to be more important ... more
      • Re: Fred DodgeJim Dunham, Thu Aug 3 05:54
        Casey & John, Consider the possibility of a WWHA Roundup talk at Springfield, MO next July on "Fred Dodge: Wells Fargo or Not?" I would love to hear it. (Maybe we can even find some "Fake" Fred Dodge ... more
        • Fred DodgeRonald F. Woggon, Sun Aug 6 09:07
          Casey & John, I agree with Jim Dunham. The WWHA Roundup next year in Springfield, MO, would be a great place for you guys to share your thoughts on "WF Agent" Fred Dodge. Also, why not share your... more
        • Be careful what you wish forCasey Tefertiller, Fri Aug 4 16:28
          Jim, Be careful what you wish for. I think you have been around when John and I went on for hours. There was a time when John and I would visit Jack Burrows, and it would go on and on. I can envision ... more
          • Springfield RoundupRoy B Young, Thu Aug 10 14:32
            One or both of you fellows, send me a written (e-mail) proposal for Springfield and we'll give it every consideration for an evening session. Roy
          • Jack BurrowsJohn Boessenecker, Fri Aug 4 22:28
            And when Jack was 80 he could drink us both under the table!!
        • Thanks, Jimpaul j, Thu Aug 3 06:36
          I hope Casey and John seriously consider taking on a debate about Fred Dodge. I have questions about his Tombstone narrative that I would look forward to posing to either or both of these experts!
          • AgeeBob Paul, Thu Aug 3 09:20
            Paul j., good idea. I would also like some Jeffrey Burton perspective.
            • Burton's bookLarry Dean, Sat Aug 5 14:58
              As I recall Burton pretty well destroyed Dodge and proved that he was a prevaricator in his book, didn't he Bob Paul?
              • A little overstated, IMHO.Bob Paul, Sat Aug 5 17:22
                I don't think would have made such judgment. While I do have "a dog in this fight" through family history research---much of it original entries---I have concentrated more on period law enforcement... more
            • Understanding Kenny.....B.J., Thu Aug 3 16:51
              Hey y'all, I wouldn't take Kenny too seriously. He is actually a pretty good guy in person. At least I have never heard him insult others in person. Possibly there is a clinical rationale for that?... more
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