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Casey Tefertiller
Honest Fred
Fri Aug 4, 2017 16:21


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 believes misinformation, then passes it along. This is not uncommon. Billy Breakenridge does the same thing. One of the funniest issues in Breckenridge is when he tells something that he witnessed, it is usually complimentary to Earp. When he passes along stories he heard from others (Behan?), they usually trash Earp.

Were the issues you mention failures of memory? Believing misinformation of others? We know he was at those events. Did he misremember slightly or do a little twist to make himself look better or better informed? Are the places where it is possible that he was right and the conclusions of later researchers are wrong?
One correction of the above — Dodge said he was to report directly to Valentine, not Thacker. It makes sense to me that Valentine would want to have his own set of ears in a tense location so he could get separate reports.

Anyway, here are indisputable facts about Dodge:

1 He was there: In Tombstone at the time of all the events.

2 He rode on posses and was involved in law-enforcement activities.

3 He was identified by a newspaper as “Wells Fargo’s Fred Dodge” after the Earp/outlaw activity.

4 He was hired by WF as a full-time detective in 1891 and compiled an impressive record that led him to be considered one of their most-trusted employees.

5 He swore in 1900 that he had been working for WF for 20 years (if I recall correctly)

6 When Lake re-connected him with Earp, he was very reluctant to talk to Lake until Earp provided his personal approval. This seems to indicate he was not a loose talker seeking aggrandizement.

7 He wrote letters to Earp and Clum telling them that he had been secretly working for WF while in Tombstone. These came late in life, when Lake re-connected them.

Now, we in this wacky Earp field have witnessed the craziest behavior of modern folks, who have falsely claimed to be everything from undercover CIA operatives to FBI agents. So it is possible that a delusional or dementia-plagued Dodge suddenly lost it and imagined himself to have been the precursor to James Bond. But it is not bloody likely. There is no obvious motive.

I have a great deal of trouble imagining Dodge sitting down and writing to Wyatt Earp and John Clum that he was undercover for WF if it was a complete lie.

And, I agree. With Dodge and most other sources, we need to be careful and verify as much as we can.

  • 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 Fred — Casey Tefertiller, Fri Aug 4 16:21
      • 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
                  • Wells FargoJohn Boessenecker, Wed Aug 9 20:59
                    I agree that Wells Fargo was way more established in California than in Southern Arizona, and the company surely realized how important a mining center Tombstone was becoming in 1879, but it still... more
                    • Reading Valentine's mindCasey Tefertiller, Thu Aug 10 10:30
                      John, That is the key point. How can we read Valentine’s mind? How can we know what he was thinking? Because something is usually done in one certain way does not mean it is always done in that way.... 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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