Not your fault if you thought it was, though; books and magazine articles abound using this picture to depict Wyatt Earp's friend John Henry Holliday. (Even the
Time-Life series of books on the Old West
shows this as Doc.) I'll grant it's how we want John Henry to look, but it isn't so. Never was. Think about it. This is a man in his thirties. Doc Holliday died of tuberculosis when he was 36, and Wyatt Earp described him as being "frail and emaciated"when they were palling around in Tombstone a few years before. No, this guy is way too healthy looking.
It's John Escapule, a French Basque who came to Tombstone in 1877. He may not have been as colorful or as fast a gun as Doc, but he lived a good life. He had mines, and a ranch, hauled lumber for Ed Schieffelin, and ran an assay office near the OK Corral for awhile. He married a good looking Tombstone girl named Emma, and they created a family and a legacy to be proud of. His great-grandson is mayor of Tombstone today. One of his great-nephews is a pal of mine.
John and Emma are buried side by side in the Tombstone Cemetery.
This is one of only three pictures of Doc with any
provenance. One of the three is a baby picture, and the other was taken while John Henry was in dental school in Philadelphia. This one was taken in Prescott in 1879 expressly for this carte de visite. Doc passed out the little cards to all and sundry during his time in Tombstone.
What I'd like to know is how all the John Escapule confusion (and nonsense) got started in the first place...