(September 12, 1853 - August 21, 1878)
George Hoy(t) was one of the many cowboys who drove the herds from Texas through Dodge City, Kansas. His name was elevated when Wyatt Earp claimed he killed George Hoy.
The story begins on July 28, 1878 when a number of these cowboys were entertaining themselves at the saloons getting drunk. In the early morning hours, Hoy and another cowboy started hurrahing the town shooting indiscriminately in the air and at the buildings around town. One bullet crashed through a window, entered a wall and sent the patrons to floor in defense.
Wyatt and Jim Masterson entered the street and one of the cowboys fired in their general direction. The two lawmen returned fire as the rowdies galloped out of town. A citizen joined the volley. After crossing the bridge, Hoy fell from his horse wounded. The wound was fatal and on August 21 Hoy died.
In a San Francisco Examiner article from August 16, 1896 and probably to his biographer Stuart Lake, Earp blurs the truth by claiming Hoy was an assassin hired to kill him and tells the story as if he was the only person targeting the fleeing cowboys. From Allen Barra's book Inventing Wyatt Earp:
That Wyatt, too, was shaken by the killing of Hoy is evident from the elaborate conspiracy theories he later concocted. Fifty years later Wyatt told Stuart Lake that Hoy was part of a plot to assassinate him, that a $1,000 bounty had been put on his head by cattle bosses--the inference was that this was a result of Earp's arrest of Bob Rachal. Earp told Lake that Hoy had confessed the plot before he died and that the Globe "verified and later published Hoyt's story."
No such story was ever printed and if such a conspiracy existed it has never been uncovered. That Wyatt did believe Hoy had been paid to kill him, though, is likely; he tried to question the young Texan about his motives right after the shooting, but Hoy was delirious. What Wyatt probably would have asked him is why, if Hoy was simply hurrahing the town, did he shoot in the direction of a marshal? No one has ever satisfactorily answered that question.
Whether Earp questioned Hoy is not known. We only have Wyatt's statement of the interrogation and based on his wild interpretation of the incident, how can one rely on Earp's revelation? As Hoy and the others were shooting up the town, the Dodge City Times Times stated, "Policeman Earp and Masterson made a raid on the shootist". If you are going to surprise a drunken cowboy hurrahing the town via words or bullets, the chance of him turning and firing without thinking is high. There is no sane reason for paranoia and it is a method in helping re-establish Wyatt's credibility after demonstrating flaws in Earp's fabricated version.
Earp would later claim he killed Hoy, but with three people shooting at the riders it is impossible to know whose bullet did the damage. Hoy did not die from the bullet, but rather weeks later from the effects of the wound.
Bat Masterson and Stuart Lake would repeat Wyatt's version of the incident. This is how legends are built.
This marker is in the "Boothill Cemetery" in Dodge City, Kansas. A visitor to this page demonstrated that George Hoy was not buried in the Boothill Cemetery. Just prior to George Hoy's death, the city stopped burials in the Boothill Cemetery and Hoy was buried in the cemetery "north of town". I am told this cemetery was the Prairie Grove Cemetery. I have not yet to locate this cemetery.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm