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A historical actor teaches education

5/23/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Marc Ferguson spent his 60th birthday Thursday night doing what he enjoys: sharing Old West history as a living historian.

Ferguson, the curator of Dalton Gang Hideout Museum in Meade, was in Hays sharing the life and times of Doc Holliday. Dressed in period garb, Ferguson regaled the Hays City Corral of the Westerners -- an Old West history organization -- with tales of the famous dentist and gambler who was friends with Wyatt Earp and was at the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz..

"I like educating people about the true Old West," Ferguson said.

Ferguson wasn't interested in history when he was young, but he did enjoy watching Westerns on television. After watching a living historian portray Calamity Jane, Ferguson became interested in it himself.

First, Ferguson portrayed buffalo hunter Billy Dixon. When a friend who owned a bed and breakfast asked him to entertain her guests, she suggested Holliday.

Now, he portrays Holliday, Dixon and U.S. Deputy Marshall Bill Tilghman of Dodge City.

Ferguson has been portraying Holliday for approximately 12 years. He does approximately 40 presentations a year.

"I'm portraying a man that at this time period would be about 31 years old," Ferguson said. "When do you have to quit? I've decided I can keep doing this ... until I find myself making mistakes. When I don't have fun doing it anymore, I won't do it anymore."

From his performance Thursday, when he had the audience laughing and engaged, that might not be any time soon.

"It's a matter of developing a character and finding what works with your audience, what doesn't," Ferguson said. "But still keep the story entertaining."