Endicott Peabody, Wyatt Earp & Faith


This was published via the old format on November 17, 2009.  It is a mess, but worth the read. There is no way I can clean it up, so I’m just leaving it.


On November 17, 2007, The Very Reverend Kirk Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona put Endicott Peabody on the road to Episcopalian sainthood.

There are some fascinating forums online dealing with the Wild West.  I think the best one is moderated by a friend, James Wright.  Awhile back James emailed that there was a heated discussion about one of my books, A Church for Helldorado, Endicott Peabody’s 1882 Earp Era Tombstone Diary.  I am including my entire rebuttal, and additional comments.

I learned something recently today.  I don’t think we truly know how to forgive until we have experienced Christian forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a very important thing.  In the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught, “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) AS WE forgive others.  That in itself is a frightening thought.  If we cannot forgive, then we, in turn may not be forgiven?  I don’t know.  I’m not that bright.  I just know we are told to forgive.

For those of you who don’t know about the “Earp Wars”,  since 1932 people have (almost violently) debated Wyatt Earp’s character.  You are either pro-Earp or anti-Earp, but no one sits on the fence.  When I first started reading about the life of Wyatt Earp, my introduction was Stuart Lake’s classic Frontier Marshal.  My next experience was the vile prevarication created by Frank Waters, The Earp Brothers of Tombstone. In order to ascertain just what manner of man Wyatt Earp was, I realized I had to make a list of those individuals who knew him and admired him and those who either knew (or know of) him and detested him.  I quickly realized that Earp’s detractors were men of very questionable character.  I also quickly discovered that his admirer’s were men of remarkable character, Endicott Peabody being the prime example.

My next step was discovering the original version of Waters’ The Earp Brothers of Tombstone.  The story of that discovery and my quest to completely debunk Waters is part of my book TRAVESTY:  Frank Waters’ Earp Agenda Exposed.  Earp detractors have built their house of cards on Frank Waters.  Unfortunately Waters’ book is nothing but lies, abject lies, as I have documented in something like 525 pages and nearly 2100 footnotes.

In order for the Earp detractors to destroy Wyatt Earp’s character, they must denigrate Endicott Peabody.  Unfortunately, that is not a simple mission, thank goodness.  Endicott Peabody is one of this nation’s greatest religious leaders.  Consequently, in order for the Earp detractors to completely denigrate Wyatt Earp, they must basically denigrate all Christian leaders and now the Episcopal church in general.  To steal and change a line from Tombstone, “Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

Unfortunately, in order to destroy Wyatt Earp, his detractors must destroy Endicott Peabody.  Peabody’s life is based on his love of Christ.  In order to destroy Endicott Peabody they must basically destroy the entire Episcopal Church.

When James emailed about the thread concerning Endicott Peabody, I don’t think he realized what I would say.  I’ve held my tongue for quite awhile about things, but I’m not going to allow petty arguments about Wyatt Earp’s character to denigrate one of the great men of Christ.  In order to understand Endicott Peabody, one must have an understanding of Christ.  One must also be a bit familiar with the Episcopal Church.  We Episcopalians are a little different.  We long to be accepted by the Catholic church but are basically nothing more than an illegitimate child to them.  Consequently we have (as a group) developed a healthy sense of humor about ourselves.  We know how to laugh at our faith.  We also have a healthy respect for a good martini (I like mine with gin and filthy).  An Episcopalian is tolerant of human failure and frailty because we all fall short of that in the eyes of God.  We do not require perfection, rather constantly seeking forgiveness for our sins of omission and commission.  Through that there is forgiveness, peace, and salvation.   If you cannot comprehend this, you cannot comprehend Endicott Peabody and his life-long admiration of Wyatt Earp.

I find the nature of the Peabody thread rather interesting, and in many ways extremely insulting to the memory of one of the most remarkable individuals this nation has ever produced.  I don’t want to step on toes or insult anyone, but, I am a devout Christian.  I am also an Episcopalian.  To Episcopalians Endicott Peabody is the American version of C. S. Lewis sans paper trail.  (He scribbled everything he wrote, did not have a secretary – or did, but did not let her do her job – and then tossed his speeches, homilies, and talks the moment he completed them).  All we have, today, are scant copies and notes his students would take during his daily talks at Groton School.  If you truly want to know the nature of Endicott Peabody, check out his legacy, Groton School.

Frankly, I’m not quite sure what Joyce considers to be a proper clergyman.  In my mind Endicott Peabody embodied the very traits thereof.  In the preface to his biography of Peabody, Frank Asburn wrote,

“…One may take issue with Peabody.  One may use words like aristocratic, old-fashioned, and Victorian.  He believed in old fashioned things; quality, smallness, personal integrity, the family, the League of Nations, goodness resting on strength.  One may belittle the diamond, saying quite rightly, that it is hard and expensive (the rare and precious stone, tougher than steel, of enduring and deep-seated beauty), but diamonds have a way of lasting and they are still rare and desirable, even in wartime, when they are put to uses requiring the characteristics that diamonds have…” (Peabody of Groton, p. xiv).

To compare Peabody to today’s television evangelists is a vilely gross insult.  That was not his way.  His was a quiet Christianity, very tolerant of the individual and more interested in a person’s soul and relationship with Christ than their past.  Indeed, anyone who is familiar with the history of Christianity (and I want to say there is a considerable lack of that familiarity with the thread on Peabody) knows that the Christian faith is one of repentance and redemption.  Once one has committed themselves to Christ and asked forgiveness for past sins, those deeds are forgotten and forgiven.  To bring up Wyatt’s past relationships of youth and indiscretion are petty and completely lacking in the understanding of the nature of Salvation.

In 1932, when Stuart Lake’s Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, was published, Stuart Lake went to Endicott Peabody and basically asked for op-eds and character references as to Wyatt’s character.  Endicott Peabody GLADLY obliged.  In fact, he and George Parsons were quite concerned that individuals would come forward to unjustly blacken Earp’s character.  One must remember this is 50 years after the events in Tombstone.  During that time Peabody’s admiration of Earp did not wan, but grew.  There had to be a reason.  (I am trying to confirm the fact that Peabody and Wyatt Earp visited at least twice when Wyatt traveled ‘back East’).  There are stories to this effect (Peabody family stories) but I cannot pin down the dates.  You need to understand this is a man who was close, personal friends with Theodore Roosevelt.  He performed the marriage ceremony between FDR and Eleanor.  He taught J. P. Morgan.  Yet – through the years, he retained an admiration of Wyatt Earp.

I know how the anti-Earp faction works.  In order to insure that Wyatt is the fount of all that is evil in the world, they must destroy anyone who admired him.  The problem is you cannot destroy the character of Endicott Peabody.

Ashburn wrote something that I find rather remarkable about Peabody’s character:

“…The Rector (Peabody) was intolerant; the Rector did have many rich boys in his school; the Rector may not have been profound; the Rector was often brutally outspoken and severe.  But if the Rector was intolerant, he was so in an age, after the war (World War I), when it was fashionable ‘to tolerate anything but intolerance’. He was notably intolerant man…of the Harding administration and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the Coolidge bull market and the days of flaming youth and boogie-woogie and the Aimee McPherson and Father Divine and Al Capone and Huey Long and the rise of Adolf Hitler. If he lacked the subtlety and resilience of a willow, he had the uncompromising strength of an oak…”
(pp. 250-251).


“…The greatest joy in life is to give oneself utterly to Christ, who is everything that is good and true and beautiful.  It is necessary to give.  It is not enough to wait.  One can prepare his mind for giving by studying, reading, and thinking and his spirit by prayer and thanksgiving.  We all need help for life.  No matter how strong and sure and safe we are the time always comes when our strength is not enough.  The wonderful thing about having Christ to turn to is that He is so charming and so alive with vivid personality.  And when we turn to Him, we concentrate not only ourselves, but others since we turn partly for their sakes.  Baptism takes us into the Church, but that is usually done for us by others, they consecrate themselves for us.  The glorious thing about Confirmation is that it is our own decision, made carefully and publicly when all the evidence is in, to take our stand by the side of a Master who is brave and wise and holy.  By His example He showed us all the way, the truth, and the light.  Being a man He repented and having repented, He was forgiven.  Being forgiven He was strengthened.  “Make me a clean heart, O! God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

A life without the power of Christ and God in it, is only a man’s little life.  To join our life with God’s of course means renunciation.  Nothing worth while is ever gained without giving up something….A Christian gives up the world, the flesh, and the devil.  The devil is a personal spirit of evil, as Christ is the personal spirit of good.  The devil is subtle and poisonous.  He plays on pride and vanity and lying and envy.  A man can only disarm him only be becoming as a little child and saying “My Father.”…”
(pp. 253).

Another time he taught:

“…He increased in stature.  I am glad to lay emphasis upon that fact.  Too often, in medieval art, which was affected by the spirit of asceticism which despises the body, Jesus is represented as a poor, delicate, rather effeminate person who has no appear for red-blooded men except the appeal of pity.  He was not that at all.  He was a strong man physically, muscular, sinewy, enduring.  He drove the plane and wielded the hammer and carried the timbers, and did the heavy work of a carpenter.  He walked great distances.  He was a commanding figure of a man.  He drove out of the temple with a small whip a great multitude of men who were overawed by His impressive personality.  He was growing strong, with exercise and outdoor life, all those early years.

Then He increased in favor with God.  How could He do that?  God had sent His Son, the son of his love, on the first Christmas day.  How could He love Him more:  It was perhaps not greater love, but a deeper satisfaction year by year, an every growing delight in His development, at times of great crises in His life, at His baptism at His transfiguration, declaring, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”…”
(p. 260)

There are those among you who may not consider Endicott Peabody an exemplary man of God – because he admired Wyatt Earp.  I don’t think there is an answer or an argument for such abject foolishness.

Endicott Peabody’s legacy is Groton School and the educational tradition it created.  Peabody pioneered a system where the “whole child” was considered – body, mind & soul.  In order to understand Peabody, you must understand his legacy.  Once you look at this list – the mover and shakers of modern American political and financial history, maybe you an comprehend how much Endicott Peabody admired Wyatt Earp.  Peabody literally could walk with kings.  He was the White House Chaplin during FDR’s Presidency.  Yet, over all of those years, he held Wyatt Earp up as an example of what a man should be.

On the flip side, he considered John Behan, Milt Joyce, and their associates to be the most corrupt individuals he had ever encountered.  He never changed his mind about them or about the Cowboys.  All in all, I think Peabody’s opinion of Behan, Joyce, and the Cowboys is extremely damning.

Peabody’s admiration of Wyatt Earp and his opinions of the ‘county officials’ there in Cochise were not created out of bias, but blatant observation.  He is, to date, the most unbiased first person observation we have.  I think the anti-Earp tendency to destroy anyone who admires the Earps cannot stand under the logic of this argument.


Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under President Truman, presidential advisor to Johnson
Joseph Alsop, important and famous political journalist after World War II
Ayi Kwei Armah, Ghanaian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, considered one of Africa’s most important writers
James C. Auchincloss, United States Representative from New Jersey
Louis Auchincloss, author, winner of the National Medal of Arts
Tracy Barnes, CIA officer, one of the planners of the Bay of Pigs
Donald Beer, 1956 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Francis Biddle, Attorney General under Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941-1945), Chief American Justice of the Nuremberg Trials
George Biddle, artist
Hiram Bingham IV, American Vice Consul in Marseilles, France during World War II
Jonathan Brewster Bingham, United States Representative from New York
Richard Bissell, CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Bay of Pigs planner, father of U-2; formed the basis for Matt Damon’s character in the The Good Shepherd
Andrés Velasco Brañes, Finance Minister of Chile
Carter Brown, late art historian
McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
William Bundy, McGeorge Bundy’s brother, foreign affairs advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
Emory Clark, 1964 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Jim Cooper, United States Representative from Tennessee
Erastus Corning II, mayor of Albany, New York
Sy Cromwell, 1964 Olympic silver medalist in rowing
Laurence Curtis, United States Representative from Massachusetts
Bronson M. Cutting, United States Senator from New Mexico
F. Trubee Davison, Director of Personnel for the Central Intelligence Agency
C. Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury, Under Secretary of State, Ambassador to France
Ralph O. Esmerian, gem dealer and collector, owner of Fred Leighton, and trustee emeritus of the American Folk Art Museum
Adrian S. Fisher, Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Ned Freed, co-author of the MIME email standard (RFCs 2045-2049)
Peter Gammons, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, baseball writer and commentator
Ward Goodenough, Anthropologist known for his studies in the southern Pacific islands.
Gerrit Graham, actor
Marshall Green, Ambassador to Indonesia, Assistant Secretary of State for Far East
Robert Greenhill, CEO Greenhill & Company Investment Bank
Joseph Grew, Ambassador to Japan before WWII, Under Secretary of State
Charlie Grimes, 1956 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Fred Gwynne, actor
Gordon Gund, formerly the principal owner of the NBA franchise, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the co-owner of the NHL franchise, San Jose Sharks
E. Roland Harriman, financier and philanthropist
W. Averell Harriman, Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Governor of New York
Mark Hedin, Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Stephen Hill, Executive Vice President at Black Entertainment Television and trustee of Groton School
Christopher Isham, Chief of Investigative Projects, ABC News
Francis Keppel, Commissioner of Education under President Kennedy
Howard Kingsbury, 1924 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
James Lawrence, 1928 Olympic gold medallist in men’s coxed fours, rowing
Hunter Lewis, author
Peter Magowan, managing general partner, San Francisco Giants
Harry Mathews, poet
Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations
Joseph Medill McCormick, United States Senator from Illinois
Fred Morgan, teacher at Sage Hill School, philanthropist
Newbold Morris, President of the New York City Council under Mayor Fiorello La Guardia
Henry Nuzum, Olympic rower in men’s double sculls, 8th place finish in 2000, 5th place finish in 2004
John Parker, fourth place finish at the 1988 Olympics in men’s eights, rowing
Ted Patton, 1988 Olympic bronze medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Alexandra Paul, actress, star of Baywatch
Endicott Peabody, former Governor of Massachusetts
Fuller Potter, abstract-expressionist artist
Stanley Rogers Resor, Secretary of the Army, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., career CIA officer, soldier, scholar, linguist, and grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States
James Roosevelt, United States Representative from California, Brigadier General in the United States Marine Corps
Kermit Roosevelt, successful businessman, service in both World Wars, son of Theodore Roosevelt,
Quentin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s brother and son of President T. Roosevelt, fought and died in World War I
Quentin Roosevelt II, Theodore Roosevelt’s grandson and nephew of Q. Roosevelt, above, killed in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances in China in 1948
Tadd Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s nephew, who was slightly older than his uncle, and attended Groton at the same time.
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of President Teddy Roosevelt, Led the D-day assault on Utah Beach
Eugene Rostow, Under-Secretary of State under President Johnson, head of Arms Control Agency
Tom Rush, singer/songwriter
Robert C. Scott, United States Representative from Virginia
Ellery Sedgwick, editor
Frederick Sheffield, 1924 Olympic gold medallist in men’s eights, rowing
Hardwick Simmons, former CEO Prudential Securities and NASDAQ
James H. Smith, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air and Director of the International Cooperation Administration
Lawrence Terry, coach of the 1936 Olympic gold medal-winning men’s coxed four in rowing
John Train, investment adviser and author
George Herbert Walker III, former ambassador to Hungary and board member of the New York Stock Exchange
Bradford Washburn, photographer, director of the Boston Museum of Science from 1939-1980 and has been its Honorary Director (a lifetime appointment) since 1985
Elisabeth Waterston, actress, The Prince and Me
James Waterston, actor, Dead Poets Society
Sam Waterston, actor, notably Law & Order’s Jack McCoy
Harry Payne Whitney, businessman and thoroughbred horsebreeder
John Hay Whitney, Ambassador to Britain, newspaper publisher
Richard Whitney, President of the New York Stock Exchange
William Payne Whitney, philanthropist and businessman