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11/13/2004

I Call Ya...

A Canadian Film crew was in Ellsworth today. They were shooting a pilot for a serial about characters of the Old West. They started out with Wyatt Earp and because Earp claimed to have been a marshal of Ellsworth for a day in 1873 they wanted to find out about our history.  
 
They had a bit of a surprise coming when they found out that I don’t believe Wyatt Earp’s story. Earp is such a huge figure in the Old West that is seems somehow a sacrilege to question his integrity. Well, here I am! Don’t reckon it will be the first time a Cowboy had his own point of view! 
 
The event is figured as a very important part of Earp’s history as he claimed it was his first law job. It was August 15, 1873. Perhaps the most dangerous man in all of Western history had the town backed down. Ben Thompson stood at the corner of the Grand Central Hotel and challenged anyone to try to take his shotgun from him.  
 
It was at that time that Wyatt says the Mayor of Ellsworth pinned the marshal’s badge on young Wyatt Earp and told him to arrest Ben Thompson. He marched the 125 yards across the plaza staring Ben down and demanding “…throw down your gun or make your fight.” To that Wyatt claimed Ben replied, “You win” and threw his gun into the street.  
 
Sounds good, but it never happened! To all the Earp fanatics out there. We have plenty of proof in Ellsworth to show that Wyatt Earp didn’t do what he said he did. Most contemptible of all is the absolute fact that he took the credit for something that a 63 year-old man did. It was our Mayor, James Miller, that confronted Ben Thompson and got him to hand over his weapons.  
 
We’ve got the whole story in the Jan/Feb Kansas Cowboy. Check out the link for the C.O.W.B.O.Y. Society at the side of the page to subscribe. As for the film crew… they loved the controversy! We walked the streets where it all happened and probably stirred up a few ghosts. Wyatt’s spirit may have even kept an eye on us as I called his bluff and set the record straight on Ellsworth’s historic streets. I know the old-timers would have approved.  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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