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The publications and research of Catherine Holder Spude.
Iron Springs Accounts
These are the charts I made for myself in comparing the several accounts of the shooting of Curly Bill Brocius. It is a study device for helping me understand the descripancies between each account, and how each author MAY have built off the previous one.


Author

Date

Distance from author to first hand account

Wyatt Earp[i]

1893, 1896

First hand account, 11-14 years after the event

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

Ca. 1918

Hooker was the daughter-in-law of H.C. Hooker, who provided shelter to the Earp posse before and after the Brocius killing.[vi] Hooker would have heard the account from the time she married into family until she interviewed Earp in the ‘teens. As a family friend, Earp would have been forthcoming with Hooker, and ready to share details (?). The two differed on other aspects of the manuscript, but not this part.

John Flood[iii]

1926

Flood was a mining engineer and Earp’s personal secretary beginning as early as 1906. They shared a working and friendship relationship that lasted for more than 20 years, during which time Flood enjoyed many evening sharing cigars, listening to the old stories and taking notes. The fact that he can’t write a good story that he hears shouldn’t be held against him when he can note landscape features and take down measurements as an engineer .[vii]

Walter Burns[iv]

1927

Burns was a Chicago journalist who approached Earp about writing his biography. Earp turned him down because Flood was doing it. But Earp agreed to help with a biography of Doc Holliday. He wrote Burns a 14-page letter. The Doc Holliday biography turned into TOMBSTONE: AN ILIAD.[viii]

Stuart Lake[v]

1931

Starting in 1928, Lake met with Earp maybe 6 times; exchanged letters for 6 months; got from Earp “the barest facts” (Lake’s words), pulling information by question and answer. He said he would research things ahead of time in other documents, ask questions and answers in person and through letters, then check and recheck in other documents.[ix]



Author

Familiarity of author with setting/site

Wyatt Earp[i]

Earp is the primary source of information for all authors.

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

Hooker spent the early years of her marriage on the Sierra Bonita Ranch[x] with her husband and had every reason to be familiar with the landscape in the vicinity of the Ranch. Her descriptions of the site may come from her father-in-law, her personal experience of visiting the site, based on where Henry Hooker said the fight took place, and/or later collaboration with Earp.

John Flood[iii]

This indeed is the critical question. Did Flood ever go to the Whetstones and attempt to find Iron Springs at a time when people were still living who might have known which spring was which?

Walter Burns[iv]

Burns spent some (how much?) time researching in Tombstone, talking to old-timers, scouring the records there, etc. for his book. He would have perhaps had more opportunity to go off with someone who thought they knew where Iron Springs was and see what it looked like. I am struck by the first mention of cottonwoods in any of the descriptions. Did that come from Burns visiting Cottonwood Springs, or from a letter from Earp?

Stuart Lake[v]

We don’t know if Stuart Lake ever saw any location that he might have been led to believe was Iron Springs.








Author

Spring location

Other landscape details

Vegetation around the spring

Appearance of spring

 

Wyatt Earp[i]

In a hollow, behind a bank

 

willows

 

 

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

In a gully in flat country. A steep trail leads to the spring.

 

brush

 

 

John Flood[iii]

In the bed of a wash, a “well worn channel out by the torrents just showing above the boundless gray; a patch of glistening sand, fifty feet in all.” There is a 15 foot drop from the top of the bank into the wash; Brocius pitches forward onto sand.

¼ mile to the right are the scraggly foothills of the Mustang Mts. 200 yds behind is a 100 ft. hill with a lonely tree growing in rocks.

Willows, mesquite, bunch grass, buck bush and sage

“Shallow pool where the brook trickled forth.”

Walter Burns[iv]

 

 

Shady trees, tall cottonwoods, willows, good grass

“pool of water as smooth as a piece of glass and glistening white in the sun”

 

Stuart Lake[v]

 

Trail rounds rocky shoulder 100 yds from the spring, then cuts across a flat shelf of deep sand; spring is below a 15 ft high bank. Beyond the hollow is the grove of cottonwoods. Between the grove and waterhole is the shack.

cottonwoods

 

 





Author

Place where Earp stops because he thinks something is wrong

Distance from Earp to Brocius

Buckshot in each barrel

Outlaws resting in

Wyatt Earp[i]

Where he dismounted, 15 yds from Brocius.

15 yds.

21

No mention of a shelter

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

100 feet from the spring.

50 feet

 

tent

John Flood[iii]

50 feet from brink of wash.

50 feet (including the 15 vertical feet)

 

tent

Walter Burns[iv]

 

30 feet: left eye squinted shut; black eye and deep wrinkles

9

No mention of a shelter

Stuart Lake[v]

50 feet away from edge of embankment.

10 yards: left eye squinted shut

9

shack






Author

Where Earp mounted his horse

How Earp joined his posse

Where Earp joined the posse

Wyatt Earp[i]

100 yards from where he killed Brocius

Walked his horse

½ mile from where he mounted his horse

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

 

 

500 yards from where Vermillion fell.

John Flood[iii]

75 yards from where he killed Brocius

Walked his horse

200 yards from where he mounted his horse and Vermillion fell.

Walter Burns[iv]

100 yards from where he killed Brocius

Tries to break a speed record

 

Stuart Lake[v]

50 yards (halfway to rocky shoulder) from where he killed Brocius

Wheeled his horse and made for cover

100 yds from where he killed Brocius







Author

Earp’s condition

   Boot heel

 Earp’s hat

Wyatt Earp[i]

Skirt of overcoat shot to pieces

 

 

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

Overcoat blown away by buckshot

Bullet sliced off his heel

 

John Flood[iii]

Portion of the frock and tail of his coat shot away

Imprint of a bullet on the heel; foot is numb

 

Walter Burns[iv]

Bottom of coat torn into strings and shreds; rents up and down legs of pants

 

2 in crown; 3 in brim

Stuart Lake[v]

Coat hung in shreds; 3 holes through the legs of his trousers

Numb left leg; bullet in the heel

5 holes in the crown; 3 in the brim



Author

Saddle horn

horse

Upon leaving

Wyatt Earp[i]

Shot off the saddle

 

 

Forrestine Hooker[ii]

Cut from the saddle; hand numb

 

Rode down the gully in search of water; went to Mexican wood camp.

John Flood[iii]

Severed from saddle, comes off in Earp’s hand

 

Horses need water and they all leave

Walter Burns[iv]

Pommel is shot away

 

 

Stuart Lake[v]

Creased the leather  point on the pommel; saddle horn had been splintered

Nicked in 3 spots

Leave because horses haven’t had water all day




 Footnotes: 

 

[i] The Denver Republican May 14, 1893, as reprinted in John Richard Stephens, Wyatt Earp Speaks! My Side of the O.K. Corral Shootout, Plus Interviews with Doc Holliday (1998: Cambria Pines by the Sea, CA, Fern Canyon), pp. 150-152; Denver Field and Farm, June 17, 1893, p. 17; The San Francisco Examiner,  August 2, 1896, “How Wyatt Earp Routed a Gang of Arizona Outlaws,” and August 9, 1896, “Wyatt Earp Tells Tales of the Shotgun Messenger Service.” (Reprinted in Neil B. Carmony (editor), How I Routed a Gang of Arizona Outlaws and Other Stories by Wyatt Earp, Trail to Yesterday Books, Tucson, AZ, 1995), pp. 14, 18-19.

 

ii Forrestine C. Hooker, “An Arizona Vendetta (The Truth about Wyatt Earp and Some Others): Facts Stated to the Writer by Wyatt S. Earp,” MS.1059, Braun Research Library, Southwest Museum, Los Angeles: about 1918.

 

iii John Henry Flood, Wyatt Earp. Unpublished manuscript written 1926. (Earl Chafin, Riverside, California: 1988).

iv Walter Noble Burns, Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest (Grosset and Dunlap, New York: 1927), pp. 246-250.

v Stuart Lake, Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1931), pp. 339-343.

 

vi Casey Tefertiller, Wyatt Earp: The Life behind the Legend (John Wiley and Sons, New York: 1997), p. 317.

 

vii Ibid. p. 320.

 

viii Ibid., p. 322.

 

xi Ibid., p. 326.

 

x Ibid., p. 317.

 

 

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