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Ernest Haycox

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Ernest Haycox


Ernest Haycox httpslibraryuoregoneduecexhibitshaycoxgal

October 13, 1950, Portland, Oregon, United States

Jill Marie Chord (m. 1925–1950)

Stagecoach, Apache War Smoke, Apache Trail, Sundown Jim

Martha Burghardt, William James Haycox

Stage to Lordsburg (Fantasy, Bugles in the Afternoon, The Border Trumpet, The Silver Desert, Burnt Creek

Similar People
Dudley Nichols, Thomas Mitchell, Ben Hecht, John Ford, Jack Schaefer

Ernest James Haycox (October 1, 1899 – October 13, 1950) was an American author of Western fiction.


Ernest Haycox httpsoregonencyclopediaorgmediauploadsHayco


Haycox was born in Portland, Oregon, to William James Haycox and the former Martha Burghardt on October 1, 1899. After receiving an education in the local schools of both Washington state and Oregon, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1915 and was stationed along the Mexican border in 1916. During World War I he was in Europe, and after the war he spent one year at Reed College in Portland. In 1923, Haycox graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, where he also started writing under professor W. F. G. Thatcher. In 1925, Haycox married Jill M. Chord, and they would have two children.

He published two dozen novels and about 300 short stories, many of which appeared first in pulp magazines in the early 1920s. During the 1930s and 40s, he was a regular contributor to Collier's Weekly from 1931 and The Saturday Evening Post from 1943. Fans of his work included Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, and the latter once wrote, "I read The Saturday Evening Post whenever it has a serial by Ernest Haycox."

His story "Stage to Lordsburg" (1937) was made into the movie Stagecoach (1939), directed by John Ford and featuring John Wayne in the role that made him a star. The novel Trouble Shooter (1936), originally serialized in Collier's, was the basis for the movie Union Pacific (1939), directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. Haycox wrote the screenplay for Montana (1950), directed by Ray Enright, which stars Alexis Smith and Errol Flynn.

Haycox died in 1950, at the age of 51, in Portland. In 2005 the Western Writers of America voted Haycox one of the 24 best Western authors of the Twentieth Century.

Burnt Creek stories

While living in New York Haycox wrote his first series of interconnected stories set in Burnt Creek, a town in central Oregon.

Stories set during the American Revolution

From 1924 through 1926 Haycox lived in New York city, and he became deeply interested in the American Revolution. Haycox made several trips to battlefields in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts and wrote eight stories and two novelettes set during that era. After publishing one of these stories, Haycox received a letter from a reader stating that Haycox did not describe the uniforms of the soldiers correctly. Haycox promptly purchased a book on the Revolutionary era military uniforms. After his move back to Oregon in 1926, Haycox concentrated on Westerns, and he precisely researched the military uniforms of eras he wrote about.

New Hope stories

Appearing in Collier's between 1933 and 1938, these stories are set in New Hope, a trading town on the Missouri River in the 1880s. Many of these stories are told in the first person, a device Haycox used about a dozen times during his writing career.

Serial and historical novels

Beginning in the mid-1930s, Haycox began to write novels and a few stories which are based on historical events. The first of these was Trouble Shooter (1936), followed by The Border Trumpet (1939), Alder Gulch (1942) and Bugles in the Afternoon (1943). At the same time as these novels were written, Haycox continued to write novels and short stories which had an ambiance and milieu of the west but which were not based on specific events or places. Somewhere in between these two kinds of novels is Trail Town, which is based on Abilene Kansas, and Marshal Tom Smith, but which is nonetheless a work of fiction, where Abilene becomes River Bend and Tom Smith become Dan Mitchell. Haycox did write a story set Abilene with Sheriff Tom Smith as a character called On Texas Street. Haycox's historical novels are the ones which Professors Etulain and Tanner write most about in their essays and books about Haycox, but Luke Short preferred Haycox's non-historical novels: “My favorite Haycox yarns don’t lean on a known time or place…. In these stories, I suspect Haycox made his own geography, named his own towns and mountains and rivers; he peopled them with tough abrasive characters whose only law was their self will.”

Unpublished novel and story

Haycox wrote National Beauty in 1939 about a woman in Oregon who wins beauty contests, and goes to Hollywood, but is not successful in the movie industry. Collier's declined this novel, and the manuscript apparently was destroyed, as it was not included in the preserved Ernest Haycox Papers. Collier's also rejected the story "Boyhood."

Land Rush stories

Starting in 1940 Haycox published five stories in Collier’s about settlers in a town named Ingrid. The stories are "Some Were Brave" (1940) (later retitled "Land Rush"), "Dark Land Waiting" (1940), "The Claim Jumpers" (1940), "Faithfully, Judith" (1942), and "Deep Winter" (1943). A sixth story, “Early Fall” was one of Haycox's rare rejections.

Two novels concurrently serialized

Haycox was one of the most successful writers in the slick magazine market of the 1940s. In 1943 Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post serialized two different Haycox novels at the same time. Collier's serialized The Wild Bunch beginning on August 28, 1943, and continued on September 4, 1943, September 11, 1943, September 18, 1943, September 25, 1943 and concluded on October 2, 1943. The Saturday Evening Post serialized Bugles in the Afternoon beginning on August 21, 1943 and continued August 28, 1943, September 4, 1943, September 11, 1943, September 18, 1943, September 25, 1943, October 2, 1943, and concluded on October 9, 1943.

The Mercy Family stories

At the end of 1948 through the beginning of 1949 Haycox published three stories, one in Collier's and two in The Saturday Evening Post featuring the Mercy family. These stories are Haycox's "tribute to the pioneer mother."


"No sensible man watches his feet hit ground. He looks ahead to see what kind of ground they'll hit next." – Pioneer Loves. Call This Land Home

Selected works

Note: Many of Haycox's novels and stories have been published under more than one title. The list below shows the titles used for the original publications.


  • Union Pacific (1939), based on Trouble Shooter (1936)
  • Stagecoach (1939), based on the short story "Stage to Lordsburg" (1937)
  • Sundown Jim (1942), based on Sundown Jim (1937)
  • Apache Trail (1942), based on the short story "Stage Station" (1939)
  • Abilene Town (1946), based on Trail Town (1941)
  • Canyon Passage (1946), based on Canyon Passage (1945)
  • Man in the Saddle (1952), based on Man in the Saddle (1938)
  • Apache War Smoke (1952), based on the short story "Stage Station" (1939)
  • Bugles in the Afternoon (1952), based on Bugles in the Afternoon (1943)
  • The Far Country (1954), based partially on Alder Gulch (1942)
  • Stagecoach (1966), based on the short story "Stage to Lordsburg" (1937)
  • References

    Ernest Haycox Wikipedia

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