The Long Riders' Guild

The Hopkins Hoax

Timeline of Deceit

1910 Government Census reveals Frank T. Hopkins, his Canadian wife and two sons living in New Jersey.  Hopkins states he was born in Texas, and the place of birth of his parents is "unknown."
1920 Government Census shows Frank Hopkins, his Canadian wife, the same two sons plus one more son and two daughters, still living in New Jersey.  Now Hopkins states he was born in Wyoming, and claims both his parents were born there, too.
1926 Article in the Philadelphia Public Ledger in which Hopkins claims he was the inspiration for Zane Grey's novels, that he did some fancy roping and riding for Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, and that parts of his life were used in a film starring William S. Hart.  Hopkins also talks about his Canadian wife and ten children.
1929 Hopkins marries Gertrude on 11th October in Queen's, New York.  He states on his marriage certificate that this is his first marriage.
1930 Government Census shows Frank's Canadian wife and the same five children are still living in New Jersey.  Although Frank was not in residence at the time of the Census, his wife states that she is married - not widowed or divorced.  Yet we know Frank had married Gertrude the year before!
1930s Charles Roth writes a number of articles about Hopkins for Horse magazine.  It is in these articles that we first read about Hopkins' claims to have won innumerable endurance races, not to mention his buffalo hunting achievements, his prowess as a dispatch rider and Indian hunter and his high-profile job in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.  Roth later admits he has no proof to back up these tales.
1930s Frank Hopkins pens two manuscripts, allegedly autobiographical, about his improbable imaginary life.
1941 Albert Harris devotes two chapters in his book, Blood of the Arab, to Hopkins' amazing fantasies:  his win in the non-existent race from Galveston, Texas to Rutland, Vermont, and his triumph in the imaginary 3,000 mile race across Arabia.  Harris got his initial information from Charles Roth, who then put him in touch with Hopkins.  Harris has no proof that Hopkins is telling the truth, and apparently asks for none.
1940s Frank writes a series of articles for the Vermont Horse & Trail Bulletin in Rutland, Vermont, regaling his readers with his make-believe feats.  Gertrude, too, writes a couple of articles. 
1949 Frazier Hunt passes on the Hopkins lies in his book, Horses and Heroes.
1951 In spite of a complete lack of evidence, Pers Crowell mentions Hopkins in his book, Cavalcade of American Horses.
1951 Hopkins dies at his Long Island home.
1952 J. Frank Dobie repeats the Hopkins lies in his book, The Mustangs.  Dobie took his information from Albert Harris.  However, Dobie dropped any reference to Hopkins in later books.
1962 Anthony Amaral writes an article about Hopkins for Horse Lovers Magazine.  He gets his information from Gertrude Hopkins, and invents a map purportedly showing the route of the imaginary Arabian race.
1963 Jack Schaefer, author of Shane and Monte Walsh, mentions Hopkins in his book, The Great Endurance Race 600 Miles on a Single Mount, 1908, from Evanston, Wyoming, to Denver. Schaefer, noted for his meticulous research, was in touch with Gertrude Hopkins but is convinced of Hopkins' exploits only after reading about them in Blood of the Arab, by Harris.
1966 The Library of Congress writes to Anthony Amaral to advise him that they have no records of the alleged 3,000 mile Arabian race.
1967 The Editor-Publisher of Horseman magazine, Bob Gray, writes to Anthony Amaral to warn him that his publication would be guilty of irresponsible reporting if it published Amaral's story about Hopkins without any proof of the existence of the Arabian race.
Late 1960s Famous biographer Robert Easton and Gertrude Hopkins correspond for three years. Easton repeatedly asks for proof of Hopkins' claimed exploits with a view to writing a biography about Frank.  No proof being forthcoming, Easton gives up the project.
1969 Bradley Smith passes on the Hopkins fantasy in his book, The Horse in the West.
1969 Despite warnings from the Library of Congress and Bob Gray of Horseman, Anthony Amaral succeeds in getting an article about Hopkins published in Western Horseman.
1971 Gertrude Hopkins dies at her Long Island home.
1976 Glynn Haynes mentions Hopkins' imaginary Arabian race in his book, The American Paint Horse because Hopkins claimed to be riding a Paint horse.  Haynes' information came from Anthony Amaral.
1986 Dr. Donald Worcester mentions Hopkins in his book, The Spanish Mustang.  He took his information from J. Frank Dobie's book, The Mustangs.
2001 John Fusco writes the screenplay for a movie, Hidalgo, "based on the true story of Frank Hopkins."  His information came from Albert Harris, J. Frank Dobie and Don Worcester, among others.
2002 The American Paint Horse website runs an article about Hidalgo being based on the true story of Frank Hopkins.

Fran Devereux-Smith writes an article about the movie Hidalgo being "based on the true story of Frank Hopkins" for Western Horseman.

Jean Llewellyn writes a similar article for Horses All.

There are hundreds of references to Hidalgo being "based on a true story" all over the Internet - including in English, Polish, French, Russian, Spanish and German.

2003 Dr. Donald Worcester reads Frank Hopkins' manuscripts and announces, "I was fooled!"

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