November 27, 2009
Time to catch up on some William H. Bonney clarifications. Last week, on the Kid's alleged birthday, I launched off on a series of statements that caught the eye of a certain scholar in Chalfont Saint Giles, England. Here are his corrections and the subsequent exchange:
"Actually Our Billy told the 1880 census taker (or the census taker, deciding discretion was the better part of valor, skipped that particular house and wrote down the first thing that came into his head) he was born in Missouri, Bob, not New Orleans, and that he was 22, not 24 or 25. Did he lie or did the census taker?
"His brother(?)/half-brother(?) Joe, told at least two census-takers he (Joe) was born in New York. Even more interestingly, he told one of them his father was a New Yorker and his mother was born in England, (so much for the "jolly Irish lady") then thirty years later told another census-taker they were both born in New York. Mind you, by then Joe had probably worked his way through more than a few barrels of nirvana juice, so no telling what condition his brain was in.
"And one more thing: although I was indeed a child prodigy and wrote short stories that drove Hemingway mad with jealousy, I sure as hell never located the Tunstall papers when I was nineteen. But hey, you go ahead f--- up the legend as much as you like, everyone else does.
Love to Kathy,
I sent Fred an email telling him I knew he would correct my gaffs, and he sent me back this missive:
If I had known you were relying on me to correct you I'd have let you wallow in it, but because I'm such a sweetheart, I'll let it ride. I just hope you realize what priceless pearls of wisdom I send you.
I do realize how priceless the gems are that you send me and I'll never forget how you corrected—via fax machine!— my entire BTK book in 1996. That was true friendship. You didn't have to do that and I will never forget it. Thanks again.
You are welcome. As for the discovery of the Tunstall documents (1956, Bob, 1956) , here's the typically-modest intro I wrote for the new edition of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JHT which has just been published by Sunstone Press (plug, plug!!!).
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JOHN HENRY TUNSTALL
Revised Edition with a New Foreword by the Author and an Addendum with Corrections
By Frederick Nolan
The letters and diaries of John Henry Tunstall, a young rancher-Englishman murdered in 1878 during New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War.
Order from Sunstone: (800) 243-5644
or BUY FROM AMAZON
In 1956, Frederick Nolan, then 25, located in the archives of the British Foreign Office a substantial file of original correspondence between the British and American governments, the family of John Tunstall, and many of the participants in the New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War. Soon after this he was given unconditional access to Tunstall’s letters and diaries, and three and a half years later—although he had never set foot in the United States—completed a biography based upon the sympathetically-edited letters and diaries of the young English rancher whose brutal murder in February, 1878, triggered the bitter and unrelenting violence that followed.
His widely-acclaimed debut is recognized today as a breakthrough work which completely revolutionized historical understanding of the personalities and events of New Mexico’s Lincoln County War and in the process changed forever the way the subject would be written about. The first book ever to link those events to the shadowy cabal known as the Santa Fe Ring, the first book ever to place Billy the Kid in the true context of his time, the first book ever to make available the letters of such men as Alexander McSween, Huston Chapman, and the hitherto unknown Robert Widenmann, it set new standards for both research and writing in this field and in the process became a classic. It is augmented in this edition with a new foreword and a supplement of corrections to the first edition which incorporates the author’s more recent historical and biographical research.
Frederick Nolan is widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the history of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War and both he and his work on the subject have been garlanded with honors. He has received the Border Regional Library Association of Texas’ Award for Literary Excellence, the first France V. Scholes Prize from the Historical Society of New Mexico, and the first J. Evetts Haley Fellowship from the Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas. The Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association has presented him with its highest honor, the Glenn Shirley Award, for his lifetime contribution to outlaw-lawman history and The Westerners Foundation has named his The West of Billy the Kid one of the 100 most important 20th-century historical works on the American West. In 2007 the National Outlaw-Lawman Association awarded him its prestigious William D. Reynolds Award in recognition of his outstanding research and writing in Western history and in 2008 True West magazine named him “Best Living Non-Fiction Writer.” Among his other books about the West are an annotated edition of Pat Garrett’s Authentic Life of Billy the Kid; Bad Blood: the Life and Times of the Horrell Brothers; The West of Billy the Kid; and The Lincoln County War, the latter from Sunstone Press in a new edition. He lives in England.
7 X 10
548 pp., $45.00
Meanwhile, another Billy the Kid author (hint: the one who calls Paul Hutton a "shape shifting cuckoo bird") wrote this gem of a paragraph about a certain birth:
“Her daydreaming resumed. November 23, 1859. It was Billy’s birth. All she remembered was the bliss. In a New York tenement, a woman splayed wide her legs into a weightless crouch as, abandoned to passion, her perspiration-wet hair snaked out on the bed and her eyes rolled up in ecstasy. “Is there no shame in this woman?” the midwife thought. Distractedly, she was kneading milk-distended breasts, frustrated by their covering smock, as sliding boy parts and stiff cord pressed her, and brilliant light glory filled her skull. Away he slipped into stranger’s hands. Behind spasmed orgasmic thighs.”
—Gale Cooper, Joy of The Birds
"Mama, don't let your babies with sliding boy parts grow up to be cowboys/and/or/outlaws."
—Bob B.B. Boberson
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