atm-logoWhen a famous gunfighter came to town, would most folks have recognized him?

Tom Smith,
Mitchellville, Iowa

He probably would have gotten a look that would turn sweet milk to clabber. Guys like John Wesley Hardin were well known. When Hardin hit a town, especially in his home state of Texas, he encountered a lot of staring, whispering and pointing. Most folks wouldn’t dare bother the deadly gunfighter for fear of ending up a notch on his pistol.

Gunfighters were their own best press agents. Many—like Doc Holliday—encouraged gossip, hearsay, storytelling or published articles, especially when they wanted to intimidate locals without having
to shoot. Having a reputation as a “man not to be reckoned with”
made the job easier.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian.
His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.

If you have a question, write:
Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008,
Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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