May 18, 2010

John H. Morris alias "Fatty"

See May 22

(Click image to enlarge)

"I'd rather be found wrong and learn the truth
than think I'm right and never know." -Jeff Smith

I am so proud of that saying I made up, but there are times I wish I didn't have to use it. This is one of those instances, although it is just a case of simple omission.

It was brought to my attention that there is an incomplete citation for a quote on page 86 of Alias Soapy Smith regarding the death of John H. Morris alias "Fatty Gray" and "Fatty". The quote reads

Fatty was killed in a saloon in Murray, Utah, but the date is unknown.

The footnoted source (#3) reads, Denver Post 11/15/1914, p. 10. Item 163, author’s col. This is an interview with Henry "Yank Fewclothes" Edwards. The problem is that one of the two sources meant to be published was mistakenly left out. Henry Edwards reported that Morris "died with his boots on in Utah country." The remaining information that he had been killed in a saloon in Murray, Utah is from a different source. This should be a rather small correction but there is a snag. I can't locate the source. I know for certain that the information is somewhere in my vast files. I spent half-a-day in storage going through cabinets and boxes of stored files and am frustrated that I have not successfully located the provenance as of yet. I hope that there will be some patience in letting me find this piece of the puzzle, after all, many of my files and notes are not years, but decades old. Rest assured that I do have the information and that sooner or later I will come across it and I will post that source here.

In the mean time, on a history forum one of the members, Paul Cool, posted an excerpt from Simon Schama, "Dead Certainties [Unwarranted Speculations]" p. 320, and I'd like to repeat it here.

"... historians are forever chasing shadows, painfully aware of their inability ever to reconstruct a dead world in its completeness, however thorough or revealing their documentation. Of course they make do with other work: the business of formulating problems, of supplying explanations about cause and effect. But the certainty of such answers always remains contingent on their unavoidable remoteness from their subjects. We are doomed to be forever hailing someone who has just gone around the corner and out of earshot."


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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith