Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September 25, 2007
Just got back from Brian Label's house in Carefree. He called me yesterday, on the road, and told me he had something that I had to see. He wasn't exaggerating. I can't tell exactly what it is because he wants to keep it under wraps for awhile, but I assured him we would do major coverage in True West when he is ready. I will say it involves Wyatt Earp, James Masterson, Bill Tilghman, among others. And that it has been "lost" for at least a century. And now it has been found, and the history behind it should fill in a few blanks. As soon as Brian says it's okay, I'll post the particulars right here.

Working hard to finish up the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite gunfight. I'm reading Dick's confession and I love the little details, like Jesse James renting a house in Nashville for $8 a month (he really splurged on the Saint Jo house and paid $14 a month), and the details they find important: "He was riding a sorrel, with two white stockings, which I then traded for a mare. . ." Thanks to Ted Yeatman I finally found out what happened to Liddil after the killing of Jesse and the trial of Frank James (Liddil was the chief witness against him, yet Frank was acquitted). Liddil went to Las Vegas, New Mexico with Robert Ford and they opened a the Bank Saloon on Bridge Street. After they quickly went broke, Dick leased out the pool hall of the new Plaza Hotel (it's still there and I've stayed there on a couple occassions), and Robert Ford became a city policeman. Liddil eventually got a job running a string of horses on the racing circuit (he loved horses and in his confession he constantly describes the horses he is on). He died of a heart attack at a race track, in 1901. He was not quite 50.

I think of all those Missouri outlaws, Frank James and Cole Younger are the only ones who reached their seventies.

By the way, the photo I posted of Liddil is probably not him. I found a photo of Dick in The Trial of Frank James For Murder book and he is not quite the same. Close but no cigar. I'm going home for lunch to do a portrait of Little Dick Liddil.

Evidently the new movie on Jesse covers some of this ground and I'm dying to see it, but still. . .

“The movies have their truths, which rarely align with those of history.”
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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