Why do you think George Coe said Billy the Kid attended John Tunstall’s funeral and was a pallbearer, when it’s documented that the Kid and Fred Waite were in jail at the time?

Why do you think George Coe said Billy the Kid attended John Tunstall’s funeral and was a pallbearer, when it’s documented that the Kid and Fred Waite were in jail at the time?

Lucas Spear
London, England

George Coe was likely afflicted with “old-timers disease.” I believe two things are at play: First, when George was remembering, it was about 40 years after the fact. If we try to remember things that happened a long time ago, we tend to telescope memories and then they harden into “facts.” (Over the last four decades, my batting average on the Ash Fork High School baseball team has risen some 40 points.) Second, George was simply telling a good story (in the tradition of that part of the country). He didn’t dream researchers and avid buffs would be digging into every nook and cranny.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu