Friday, May 03, 2024

Doc Holliday In Prescott Begets Some Serious Gallivanting

 May 3, 2024

   Thanks to recent research by Brad Courtney and D. Sue Kissel in Prescott, we now know the actual location of the boarding house where Doc Holliday stayed during his second tenure in the Mile High City.

Daily Whip Outs: "Doc On The Brain"
(just a smattering of Triple B whip outs)

   John Henry "Doc" Holliday spent two separate sojourns in Prescott, Arizona Territory, the first in November of 1879 when he arrived with the Earp wagon train from Kansas. Holliday and his wife Kate, travelled with Wyatt, James Earp and their families from Las Vegas, New Mexico, down to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, then out across the Zuni country, into Arizona Territory and across to Prescott.

   Wyatt, his wife Mattie, along with Virgil and his wife Allie (who were living in Prescott at an abandoned saw mill) went on to the new mining boomtown of Tombstone, arriving there in December. The trek, which is quite a hike from northern Arizona down out of the Bradshaw Mountains thru Tip Top and Gillette (where New River is today) and on to the small village of Phoenix. Then on to Tucson and another trek out across the Pantano Flats, shadowing the new Southern Pacific Railroad to Benson and then south along the banks of the San Pedro River, and on to Tombstone. This is a 283 mile run over some very rough territory. 

   From Kate's recollections, she says, "a short time later" Doc received a letter from Wyatt urging Doc to come to Tombstone. According to Kate, they left Prescott together and traveled as far as Gillette where Kate gave Doc an ultimatum (she really disliked the Earp boys) and left Doc to go on to Globe. She claimed Doc went on to Tombstone, but historians now believe Doc went back to Prescott, and then traveled back to Las Vegas, New Mexico to settle up affairs there. Once again, this is a very long trip. It is 536 miles, one way! And he apparently traveled the entire way by stage, not on a train.
   Hold the Post button! This just in from Mark Lee Gardner, who is writing a book on Doc and Wyatt. He found this amazing ad touting a stage ride from Santa Fe to Prescott for $70 and it appears to take 86.5 hours? Is this how you read this ad?

From the Santa Fe New Mexican
 November 12, 1880

Some believe this is a photo of Doc Holliday, on the right, during the time he went back to Las Vegas to support his friend J.J. Webb, in leg irons, at left.
Doc Holliday apparently returned from New Mexico to Prescott sometime in May of 1880 and he shows up in the June Census for Yavapai County, his name written as "J.H. Holladay" age 29. His occupation is listed as "dentist."

The Census Record Showing Doc, Elliott and Gosper in the census records.
It's interesting that the record keeper misspelled Doc's name.

And this is when he is rooming with John J. Gosper (later the acting governor of Arizona) at the Elliott boarding house on Montezuma. And while there he has his famous photo taken by Daniel Francis Mitchell in his studio on Cortez St.

The location of the Elliott Boarding House
just off the Courthouse Plaza in Prescott

A photo by Mitchell of Montezuma Street from my Doc book (above, right) looking at the west side of the street. So Doc's boarding house would have been across the street, to the right.

   Then, finally, Doc goes on to Tombstone, solo, in August of 1880, stopping in Tucson before moving on to Tombstone in September.

   Doc Holliday registered to vote in Pima County, District 17 (the village of Tombstone). This is the first documented presence of Doc Holliday in Tombstone on September 18, 1880.
   The Earps have been in Tombstone almost a year. And in 13 months from Doc's arrival, we get a certain altercation behind a certain corral.
   Yes, it is safe to say, any way you slice it, this is some serious gallivanting.

"You're a daisy if you do."
—Doc Holliday to Frank McLaury on October 26, 1881

1 comment:

  1. This a great example of why this blog is as fascinating as the magazine. All True West fans should be following this blog, because those that don't are missing out.


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