Has an original copy of the official inquest into the O.K. Corral shooting survived? A book by Al Turner purports to include the complete testimonies of the participants, but I also read that the original findings were lost in one of Tombstone’s fires.

ask-the-marshallGlenn Hebert

Albuquerque, New Mexico

I checked with Casey Tefertiller, one of the best experts on the Spicer hearing, and he says the original manuscript was given to a writer named Hal Hayhurst during the Great Depression as part of a WPA project. Hayhurst was assigned to transcribe the document, but he deleted or summarized much of the testimony, adding in notes that were anti-Earp. His edits deleted testimony that is important to understanding what occurred during the hearing. (Incidentally, Hayhurst was a friend of John Behan’s family, which probably explains his bias.) Hayhurst kept the original document in his home, where it was destroyed in a house fire. No official transcript is known to exist.

Wyatt Earp author Stuart Lake later hired a typist to copy the Hayhurst transcription and some errors were made and some sentences left out. This is the version Al Turner uses in his book. A copy of the Hayhurst transcription is in the Goldwater collection at Arizona State University.

Both the Tombstone Nugget and Epitaph covered the hearing. Generally the Nugget coverage is more complete, but occasionally the Epitaph offers information not found elsewhere.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.

If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall

PO Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327

or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@sccmail.maricopa.edu

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