The Garner Story, Reported Origin of 42

Comments by Dennis Roberson, author of Winning 42

The Garner story is clearly the most credible story to date, by a wide margin, and always has been. I came across the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story myself in the 1980s, which documented it as well as anything I have seen. I followed up with my own research, and never came across anything concrete that suggested differently. Thus everything I could find regarding the Garner origination was included in my book. Your own research has produced additional historic references to the Garner story. If I felt there was any meaningful controversy or dispute over the game's origin, I certainly would have treated the subject differently in the book. Any other origin theories or rumors one may come across carry significantly less weight because they have so much less documentation and/or details, if any. For example: I can disprove the occasional suggestion that the origin occurred in “East Texas” by showing that in 1880, the Garner area and D/FW were included in the region marked “East Texas” on some Texas maps. Thus, they are the same story, not competing ones.

It certainly wouldn't hurt if there had been some published third-party corroboration for Garner's William Thomas and Walter Earl story for further proof. For me, however, the continued lack of any other person or claim documented to the extent that Thomas’ has been provides significant weight to Thomas and Earl as the originators. In other words, there isn’t an equally popular and documented claim by anyone or anyplace for a different origin to the game somewhere else in Texas. And there has been no factual evidence produced that contradicts any details of the Garner story. The story has been out there for nearly 100 years, and that's ample opportunity for someone to come forward to dispute it or disprove it in print with their own evidence, but I have never seen anything.

So if someone suggests other origins to the game, they cannot fairly be given equal weight to the Garner story, because they have not garnered (no pun intended) anywhere near the breadth of documentation and mentions throughout history in various publications. I would always defer to the story that has accumulated the greatest weight and published documentation over time.

Posted with permission from the author, 26 Sep 2007

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