Would you have liked to be present at the shootout in Tombstone? or the capture of a famous outlaw? or perhaps the discovery of gold somewhere? or a stagecoach or train robbery? What intrigues you the most and why?
Well, didn't think I'd get so many responses so quickly. Seems like the shootout in Tombstone is the most popular so far. With so many different versions of what might have taken place and who shot first, it is no wonder. Have to admit that I would like to have witnessed it as well to know the truth. But maybe part of what makes it so intriguing is the fact that there are so many versions of what happened that it plays to our curiosity, keeps us wanting just a little more info, and maybe we can solve it ourselves, though knowing that it will never happen, unless, as one response said, we can get our Delorean up to 88 mph. One of the great things about looking back at history....with a little digging we might just find what we are looking for, so we will keep on trying.
I think, among many others that have been mentioned, I would like to see and know the truth about the stage coach robbery where Bud Philpott was killed .. was Doc Holliday there ?? did he take part ?? was he involved with Leonard, Head and Crane as has been claimed ??
Suppposedly he was and admitted as much to Kate, who when she told about it was dismissed as a drunk and/or a liar, in as much as she was put up to telling he had told her he was involved .. !!
Not a spectacular event maybe, but a very telling one as, like the killing of Johnny Ringo, already mentioned, they can and probably would alter our perception of prior and subsequent events around that whole period if they proved to be true.
Somewhat more mundane maybe but still interesting ...
... how about being along on a cattle drive to see what it was really like .. or ..
... observing the Army/Cavalry, see what life was really like
... observe a wagon train on its journey west...
In their own way I feel everyday life and events are as much a part of the history of the west as the many major, and minor, ones that go to make that history so fascinating.
Allen, I think being on an early cattle drive would have been quite something. Hard as hell, but definitely something to be a part of. Perhaps when the Goodnoght-Loving Trail or the Chisholm Trail were established. Or even along with Edward Piper on the first recorded drive in 1846.
I think if I had to limit myself to one drive, it would be the Nelson Story one .. they rode into, and out of, an Indian war .. arriving as they did at Fort Phil Kearney on the Bozeman Trail during 'Red Clouds War' .
Col Henry Carrington forbade them to continue, but Story ignored the order and left with the herd and managing to avoid any confrontation with the indians, finally arrived safely at their destination.
I would love to go back and "shadow" Doc Holliday and get first-hand sense of his personality and demeanor. BTW, can anybody tell me the most authoritative and historically accurate Holliday biography?
I only have one 'The Frontier World of Doc Holliday' by Pat Jahns, my copy is an old paperback dated 1957 .. informative it definitely is with 12 pages of chapter notes containing all sorts of references and about 5 pages of bibliography notes ... as for authoratitive, that is open to the individuals viewpoint.
I have a lot of time for early printed books of all kinds, people then relied on in depth research and I feel a lot of those early books contain more true facts than subsequently researched ones ... my personal viewpoint you understand, sometimes we can have too much information which can ultimately cloud the main issue and story.
I agree that some of the earlier less-academic stuff has some nuggets of truth. Although Stuart Lake's Frontier Marshal is mostly fiction I think there are some good and true things in there. There is a tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater (you can use that if you want. Ha).
If you are looking for a book on Wyatt that addresses Frontier Marshal and others that contributed to either the Earp legend or the Earp debunkers with fair look at each side, I suggest "Inventing Wyatt Earp - His Life and Many Legends" by Allen Barra.
Steve - I am not an historian or researcher but I am looking for good straight forward material like you. Below is my opinion of a book and maybe those who do this for more than just personal reasons can add their thoughts on the book for both of us.
I just completed "Doc Holliday - The Life and Legend" by Gary L. Roberts (c) 2006. This seems to be a well researched book with a lot of references to source material including accounts of Holliday relatives. If Roberts makes a conclusion not totally based on fact he lets the reader know it is only an opinion and relates how he came to it but leaves the room for you to make your own conclusions.