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Steve Gatto
If you say so . . .
Tue Jul 10, 2018 05:44

As I noted in my post, “to the best of my knowledge Neil Carmony was the one who discovered the Frederick Bechdolt letter in the Houghton Mifflin Company collection somewhere around 2002.” Also, I noted that I received the Bechdolt letter from Neil Carmony in my book Curly Bill (2003). I believe I have always maintain that Neil discovered the letter and I do not recall stating on any of these boards that you discovered the letter. In fact, the following is a post I made three years ago:

“Steve Gatto
About the Earps and Ringo
Sat May 16, 2015 07:52


Here's a good article about the Earps and about Ringo or, well, should I say Ringgo as the article inaccurately spells his name:

The above article, written in a Los Angeles newspaper during March 1882 and prior to John Ringo's death, illustrates Ringo's reputation around Tombstone and Arizona by 1882. It also discusses the Earp parties estimation of Ringo which is support by Frederick Bechdolt's letter to William Breakeridge in 1927 (discovered by Neil Carmony around 2002) where Bechdolt noted that Wyatt Earp "speaks of considerable respect of John Ringo." Another interesting thing about the article is that it states that Ringo is the "best shot in the territory." Regarding Ringo's shooting abilities A. M Franklin would write in a May 1927 newspaper article that Ringo was "admittedly the best pistol shot in the country." The following year Breakenridge wrote that Ringo "was a good a good shot." This article also support some of the traits that the "Tombstone Epitaph" noted in July 1882 after his death and old-timers would later recall. These traits were later used by Walter Noble Burns who popularized them in his book "Tombstone" (1927).”

If, as you say, you found the Bechdolt letter and provided it to Neil Carmony that is fine. I don’t consider the letter to be anything more than another example of Wyatt Earp’s tendency to lie.

About the letters that Neil used for his project on William Breakenridge, I still have some correspondence between Neil and I, and at least one early draft of that project. What I know is that Neil wrote the following: “The editor of this article resolved the question [whether Raine has ghostwritten Breankenridge’s book] to his satisfaction by consulting the Houghton Mifflin Collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Librarians there furnished me a ‘reader’s report’on Breakenridge’s manuscript (prepared by Roger L. Scaife, one of the firms editors), the publishing contract (dated March 21, 1928, a year after the ms. arrived in Boston), 177 letter and telegrams between Breakenridge and Houghton Mifflin spanning the period March 1927 to December 1928, and other letters and miscellaneous items.”

I have no problem whatsoever with you changing your position after seeing the Bechdolt letter. The point of my post was the irony the Dworkin notes,“Some have suggested that where it appeared that Earp made the claim that he had killed Ringo, it was the writer that made up the account, and that Earp himself never made the claim” – which is the argument that you made to me in 1998 and it is the same argument that you made in the Wild West article on Ringo in 2000. Yet, Dworkin comments in his book that you believed “Earp realized that the story was indefensible by facts, and decided to back off it” without apparently realizing the you were one of the people that, in fact, had argued that Earp never claimed to kill Ringo or that I had been making that point for years. For example, here is another somewhat sarcastic classic past post I made on the subject to another Pro-Earp author in 2003 who denied that Wyatt made he claim to have killed Ringo:

“Steve Gatto
Let's see . . .
Thu Oct 30 07:10:05 2003

a newspaper says: Wyatt said he didn't kill Ringo-so that counts as a statement made by Wyatt.

Forrestine Hooker says: Wyatt said that he killed Ringo on his way out of Arizona-but that doesn't count as a statement made by Wyatt.

Frank Lockwood says: Wyatt said that he killed Ringo on his way out of Arizona-but that doesn't count as a statement made by Wyatt.

Frederick Bechdolt says: Wyatt said that he killed Ringo on his way out of Arizona-but that doesn't count as a statement made by Wyatt.

Now let's add the fact that the same bogus story is in the Flood manuscript and Wyatt drew a map of the killing of Ringo.

Sounds to me like "Denial-is a river in New Jersey."

As I stated above, while I agree the Bechdolt letter is another nail in the coffin for Wyatt’s claim that he killed Ringo, I don’t considered it to be some groundbreaking event. In actuality, it didn’t take the Bechdolt Letter to realize that Wyatt made a false claim to have killed Ringo because the same claim was in the Hooker ms., the Flood ms., and stated by Frank Lockwood based on his interview with Wyatt Earp. If the Bechdolt letter was the pivotal moment for your thoughts on the matter, that is great.

Lastly, I have not held any grudges about our debate on the subject in 1998 that you now do not recall. I merely was pointing out in the post about your position in 1998 and 2000 regarding Wyatt’s claim to have killed Ringo. In fact, I had never really put much thought about the issue until you raised it in 1998 and asked me my thoughts on the fact the Wyatt didn’t tell Burns or Lake that he killed Ringo, or that the claim was not in a version of the Flood ms.

Regarding your question about the Paul-Shibbel transcripts, looking back on the board’s posts, I was on a flight bound for Costa Rica for Halloween at the time it was posted and did not get back until five days later. When I got back I do recall seeing your question, but got busy with other things and did not respond to it. Also, I have had the same email address for the past 20 years. I do not recall receiving an email from you at any time and I can search my emails back to at least 1998 for conversations I have had with many people in this field.

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