Wyatt Earp

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For other uses, see Wyatt Earp (disambiguation).Template:Infobox Biography

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 - January 13, 1929), was an officer of the law, gambler and saloon keeper in the Wild West. He is most known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral along with Doc Holliday, Virgil Earp, and Morgan Earp.


Family background

Wyatt was born in Monmouth, Illinois, USA to Nicholas Porter Earp (September 6, 1813 in Lincoln County, North Carolina - November 12, 1907 in Sawtell, California), a cooper and farmer, and his second wife Virginia Ann Cooksey (February 2, 1821 in Kentucky - January 14, 1893 in San Bernardino County, California).

His paternal grandparents were Walter Earp (1787 in Montgomery County, Maryland - January 30, 1853), a school teacher and Methodist Episcopal preacher, and Martha Ann Early (August 28, 1790 in Avery County, North Carolina - September 24, 1881), a traditional housewife. Nicholas, their first born, was their only child born in North Carolina. Their other five sons were born in various parts of Kentucky.

His maternal grandparents were James Cooksey and Elizabeth Smith. They had settled in Ohio County, Kentucky but little else is known of their life.


On December 22, 1836, Nicholas Porter Earp married Abigail Storm (September 21, 1813 in Ohio County, Kentucky - October 8, 1839 in Ohio County, Kentucky) in Hartford, Kentucky. The short-lived marriage produced two older half-siblings of Wyatt:

On July 30, 1840, Nicholas wed Virginia Ann Cooksey in Hartford, Kentucky. This second marriage produced a total of eight children:

Early life

Wyatt Earp, born during the California Gold Rush, was named after Nicholas Earp's commanding officer during the Mexican-American War, Captain Wyatt Berry Strap of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers. In March, 1850, the Earps left Monmouth for California, but they never reached there, settling instead in Iowa. Their new farm consisted of 160 acres (0.6 km²), seven miles (10 km) northeast of Pella, Iowa.

On March 4, 1856, Nicholas sold his farm to Aquillin Waters Noe (c. 1800 - May 4, 1880), who resold it on the same day to Hiram Zenas Webster (March 1, 1829 - after 1915).

The family returned to Monmouth, but Nicholas found that nobody wanted his services as cooper or farmer. Faced with unemployment, Nicholas chose to become a municipal constable. He served for about three years. He reportedly had a second source of income from the selling of alcoholic beverages which made him the target of the local Temperance movement and in 1859 he was tried for bootlegging, convicted and publicly humiliated. Nicholas was unable to pay his fines and on November 11, 1859, Nicholas's property was sold at an auction. Two days later the Earps left for Pella, Iowa.

Nicholas apparently made frequent travels to Monmouth throughout 1860 to confirm and conclude the sale of his properties and to face several lawsuits for debt and accusations of tax evasion.

During the family's second stay in Pella, the American Civil War broke out. James, Virgil and Newton joined the Union Army. Wyatt was too young to join, but tried on several occasions to run away and join the army only to have his father find him and bring him back home. While Nicholas was busy recruiting and drilling local companies, Wyatt, with the help of his two younger brothers, Morgan and Warren, was left in charge of bringing in an 80-acre corn crop. James returned home in summer 1863 after being severely wounded in Fredricktown, Missouri. On May 12th, 1864, the Earp family joined a wagon train heading to California. The 1931 book Frontier Marshall by Stuart Lake, claims that the Earps had an encounter with Indians near Fort Laramie and that Wyatt reportedly took the opportunity of their stop at Fort Bridger to go hunting American Bison with Jim Bridger. Later researchers determined that Lake's account of Earp's life was probably embellished as there is little corroborating evidence to many of the stories he wrote about.

By late summer, 1865, both Wyatt and Virgil had found a common occupation as stagecoach drivers for Phineas Bannings Banning Stage Line in Southern California. This is presumed to be the time Wyatt had his first taste of whiskey. He reportedly felt sick enough to abstain from it for the following two decades.

In spring, 1866, Earp became a teamster, transporting cargo for Chris Taylor. His assigned trail for 1866 - 1868 was from Wilmington, California to Prescott, Arizona. In spring 1868, Earp was hired by Charles Chrisman to transport supplies for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. This is presumed to be the time of his introduction to gambling and boxing.


In spring 1868, the Earps moved again, this time settling in Lamar, Missouri where Nicholas became the local constable. By November 17, 1869, Nicholas resigned to become Justice of the Peace. Wyatt was immediately appointed constable in place of his father. On November 26 and in return for his appointment, Earp filed a bond of $1000. His sureties for this bond were his father Nicholas Porter Earp, his paternal uncle Jonathan Douglas Earp (April 28, 1824 - October 20, 1900) and James Maupin.

On January 10, 1870, Earp married his first wife, Urilla Sutherland (1849 - 1870/1871). She was daughter to William and Permelia Sutherland from New York City. The marriage was short-lived. Urilla is believed to have died either a few months or about a year later. There are two reported versions of her cause of death. One version claims that she died of typhus, the other that she died in childbirth.

In August 1870, Earp bought a house and the share it occupied for $50. In November, he resold the house for $75. The later event has been used to estimate the death of Urilla, based on the perception that a widower has less need of permanent residence than a married man expecting to have children. That November, Earp ran for and won his constable's post, beating his older half-brother, Newton 137 votes to 108 votes. It would be the only time Earp would ever run for office.

After his wife's death, Earp started to have some difficulties with the law. On March 14, 1871, Barton County, Missouri filed a lawsuit against Earp and his sureties. He had been in charge of collecting license fees for Lamar. The collected money were to be used as funding for the local schools. Earp was accused of never having delivered the collected money. The action was eventually vacated, probably because Earp and his father had moved out of the state. Then on March 31, James Cromwell filed his own lawsuit against Earp. The suit alleged that Earp had falsified court documents referring to the amount of money that Earp hand collected from Cromwell to satisfy a judgment. To make up the difference between what Earp turned in and Cromwell claimed he paid, the court seized Cromwell's mowing machine and sold it for $38. Cromwell's suit claimed that Earp owed him $75, the estimated value of the machine.

On April 1, Earp was one of three men facing accusations for horse theft, alongside Edward Kennedy and John Shown. On March 28, the accused had reportedly stolen two horses, "each of the value of one hundred dollars", from William Keys while in the Indian Country. On April 6, Earp was arrested by Deputy United States Marshal J.G. Owens for the later charges. The arraignment of the charges against him was read to him by Commissioner James Churchill on April 14. Bail was set at $500. On May 15, the indictment against Earp, Kennedy and Shown was issued.

Anna Shown, wife of John Shown, claimed that Earp and Kennedy got her husband drunk and then threatened his life in order to earn his assistance. However on June 5, Edward Kennedy was acquitted while the case against Earp and John Shown remained. Faced with two lawsuits and a trial, Earp apparently chose to flee the State of Missouri. An arrest warrant was issued. By November 21, the date of their trial, the local officials were unable to locate either Earp or Shown. Nicholas Earp had also left Lamar.

Both lawsuits and the horse theft case were eventually dropped because of the disappearance of Earp. Researchers of his life do not have enough evidence to conclude whether he was guilty of the charges. They tend to note however that this would be the first but not the last controversial incident of his life


For years, researchers had no reliable account of Earp's activities or whereabouts between the remainder of 1871 and October 28, 1874 when Earp makes his reappearance in Wichita, Kansas. He has been suggested to have spent these years hunting American Bison and wandering from place to place. He is generally considered to have first met his close friend Bat Masterson around this period on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River. Nevertheless, the discovery of contemporary accounts that place Earp in Peoria, Illinois, and the surrounding area during 1872, have caused researchers to question these claims. Earp is listed in the city directory for Peoria during 1872 as living in the house of Jane Haspel, who operated a bagnio (brothel) from that location. In February 1872, Peoria police raided the Haspel bagnio, arresting four women and three men. The three men included Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, and George Randall. Wyatt and the others were charged with "Keeping and being found in a house of ill-fame." They were later fined twenty dollars and cost for the criminal infraction. Two additional arrests for Wyatt Earp for the same crime during 1872 in Peoria have also been found. Some researchers have concluded that the Peoria information indicates that Earp was intimately involved in the prostitution trade in the Peoria area throughout 1872. This new information has caused some researchers to question Earp's accounts of Buffalo hunting in Kansas.

In Frontier Marshal, Lake claimed that while in Kansas, Earp met such notable figures as Wild Bill Hickok. Lake also identified Earp as the man who arrested gunman Benjamin Thompson (November 2, 1843 - March 11, 1888) in 1873. However Lake failed to identify his sources for these allegations. Consequently later researchers have expressed their doubt about them. In particular, the activities of Benjamin Thompson during the year of his arrest were covered in detail by the local press without ever mentioning Earp. Thompson published his own accounts for the events in 1884, and he too failed to report Earp as the man responsible for his arrest.

Earp officially joined the Wichita deputies office on April 21, 1875 after election of Mike Meagher as marshal. There are several newspaper reports referring to Earp as "Officer Erp" prior to his official hiring, making his exact role as an officer during 1874 unclear. Earp received several acclimations while in Wichita, but his stint as deputy came to a sudden ending on April 2, 1876, when Earp took a too active interest in the marshal's election. Former marshal Bill Smith accused the Earp family of running a brothel. Wyatt decided to take matters into his own hands by beating up Smith. Meagher was forced to fire and arrest Earp for disturbing the peace. With the cattle trade diminishing in Wichita, Earp moved on to the next booming cow-town, Dodge City, Kansas.

Missing image
Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson in 1876

Earp was appointed assistant marshal under Larry Deger by newly elected Dodge City mayor George Hoover. During the first cattle season, Earp appointed Joe Mason and Jim Masterson, brother of Sheriff Bat Masterson, to be deputies. In October 1876, Earp left Dodge City for a short while to chase train robbers Mike Roarke and Dave Rudabaugh. During his search, Earp stopped at Fort Griffin, and it was suggest that he ask a young, card playing dentist about Rudabaugh. It was the first meeting between Earp and Doc Holliday. Earp eventually caught up to Roarke in Roarke's hometown of Joplin, Missouri. Earp returned to Dodge City in 1878 to become the assistant marshal under Charles Bassett. Holliday moved to Dodge City in June 1878, and saved Earp's life in August of the same year. While trying to break up a bar-room brawl, Tobe Driskill, drew a gun and pointed it at Earp's back. Holliday yelled, "Look out, Wyatt," then drew his gun and fired, scaring Driskill enough to make him back off. This would mark the beginning of Earp's and Holliday's friendship.

In summer 1878, Dodge City businessman Bob Wright, attempted to have Earp assassinated by sending George Hoy to fire into a theater that Earp was in. Hoy ended up getting killed in the ensuing gun fight. Earp said the feud between he and Wright started when Earp arrested Bob Rachals, a prominent trail leader who had shot a German fiddler. Wright tried to block the arrest because Rachals was one of the largest financial contributors to the Dodge City economy. Wright then hired Clay Allison to kill Earp, but was Allison backed down when confronted by Earp and Bat Masterson. It was during his Dodge City stay that Earp met his future wife, Celia "Mattie" Blaylock, a former prostitute. Earp resigned from the Dodge City police force on September 9, 1878, and headed to Las Vegas, New Mexico.


Wyatt, Jim and Virgil all moved to Tombstone, Arizona in December 1878. Wyatt brought a wagon with him that he planned to convert into a stagecoach. When he arrived in Tombstone, he found two established stage lines already running. Virgil was appointed deputy U.S. marshal prior to arriving in Tombstone. The Earps started staking mining claims, hoping one would become a big producer. Wyatt also went to work for Wells, Fargo, riding shotgun for their stagecoaches. Eventually Morgan Earp moved to Tombstone as well.

On July 25, 1880, Virgil accused Frank McLaury, a known cowboy, of taking part in stealing of six mules from Camp Rucker. It would mark the beginning of the animosity between the Earps and the cowboys. Near the same time, Wyatt was appointed deputy of Tombstone and the surrounding area. In September, Doc Holliday moved to Tombstone. On October 28, 1880, while trying to break up a group of revelers shooting at the moon, "Curley" Bill Brocious shot city marshal Fred White when White tried to take Brocious' gun away. Wyatt arrested Brocious and took him to Tucson for a hearing before a lynch mob could be formed.

Earp resigned as deputy sheriff of Pima County on November 9 because of an election dispute. Around the same time, the Earps started making money on their mining claims. Charlie Shibell, sheriff of Pima County, appointed Johnny Behan, as the new deputy to replace Earp. When the southern portion of Pima County was formed into Cochise County, Behan made a deal with Earp that if Earp didn't seek the position of sheriff of the new county, that Behan would name Earp as undersheriff. After Behan was appointed sheriff of Cochise County, he reneged on his deal with Earp and chose Harry Woods to be the undersheriff.

Shortly after Earp arrived in Tombstone, he had a horse stolen. Later he found out that it was in the possession of Ike Clanton, who was in Charleston, Arizona at the time. Earp and Holliday rode to Charleston to recover the horse. The incident, while nonviolent, made the Clanton's look bad, and they would hold a grudge. Also, it was the beginnings of the Earp's difficulties with Behan, who believed that Earp and Holliday were in Charleston to warn Clanton that Behan was going to subpoena Clanton.

On December 27, 1880, Earp testified in court about the events that led to Brocious shooting White. Because of Earps testimony, the judge ruled that the shooting was accidental and he set Brocious free. Brocious would later become one of the principal targets in what became know as the Arizona War.

Earp became part owner with Lou Rickabaugh in the gambling concession at the Oriental Saloon in January 1881. Shortly thereafter, John Tyler was hired by a rival gambling operator to cause trouble at the Oriental to keep patrons away. Tyler purchased $100 in chips and sat down at Rickabaugh's faro table. After losing a bet, Tyler started to get belligerent with Rickabaugh. Earp took Tyler by the ear and threw him out of the saloon.

Tensions between the Earps and the Clantons/McLaurys increased during the beginning of 1881. In March, 1881, three cowboys held up a stage coach in which the one of the drivers was killed. There were rumors about the Earp's involvement, so to help clear his name, Wyatt went to Ike Clanton and offered to pay him for information leading to the three cowboys. Clanton agreed, fully knowing if word got out to the cowboys that he had double crossed them that they would kill him. After the three cowboys were killed in unrelated incidents, Clanton accused Earp of leaking their deal to either his brother Morgan or to Holliday.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

On October 25, Clanton, very drunk, started telling everybody that he was going to kill the first Earp or Doc Holliday that he saw. Holliday walked into the bar and tried to provoke Clanton into drawing his gun, but Clanton was unarmed. When Clanton threaten Holliday, Holliday replied with the now famous line, "You're a daisy if you do." Morgan Earp tried to break up the fight, but it only continued in the street. Ike ran into Wyatt that night and told him that he'd have him "man for man" the next day. The next morning, Clanton had acquired a rifle and was looking for an Earp to shoot, when Virgil came up behind Clanton, grabbed the rifle and pistol whipped Clanton. The Earps took Clanton to court for violating the town's ordinance against carrying firearms. Clanton was fined $25 and left unarmed. When Wyatt left court he ran into Tom McLaury and got into an argument with him. Wyatt ended up pistol whipping the unarmed McLaury and left him bleeding in the street. The cowboys regrouped at the O.K. Corral while the Earps and Holliday marched down the street to disarm them. Behan informed Virgil that he had already disarmed the cowboys and that no trouble was necessary. The 30 second gunfight that ensued came to be know as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and has been the subject of many books and movies.

Wyatt came out of the gunfight completely unscathed, while Virgil was shot through the calf, Morgan was shot though the shoulder and Holliday was just grazed in the hip. Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury died from their wounds and Ike Clanton escaped, uninjured. Wyatt shot Frank McLaury in the stomach during the opening volley of the fight, although it was probably Morgan's shot in the head or Holliday's shot in the stomach that actually killed McLaury.

The Earps and Holliday were considered heroes for about forty-eight hours. The funerals for Clanton and the McLaurys were the largest ever seen in Tombstone. The huge turnout caused many Tombstone residents and businesses to reconsider their calling for the mass murder of cowboys. Also, the fear of cowboy retribution and the potential loss of investors because of the negative publicity in large cities like San Francisco started to turn the opinion against the Earps and Holliday. Then stories that Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were unarmed and that Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury threw up their hands before the shooting started made it look like the Earps and Holliday had committed murder instead of enforce justice.

From heroes to defendants

On October 30, Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Holliday. Wyatt and Holliday were arrested and brought before the Justice of the Peace, Wells Spicer, while Morgan and Virgil were still recovering. Bail was set at $10,000 a piece. The hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to go to trial started on November 1. The first witnesses were Billy Allen and Behan. Allen testified that Holliday fired the first shot and that the second one also came from the Earp party, while Billy Clanton had his hands in the air. Then Behan testified that he heard Billy Clanton say, "Don't shoot me. I don't want to fight." He also testified that Tom McLaury threw open his coat to show that he wasn't armed and that the first two shots were fired by the Earp party. Behan also said that he thought the next three shots also came from the Earp party. Behan's views turned public opinion against the Earps. His testimony portrayed a far different gunfight than had been first reported in the local papers.

Because of Allen's and Behan's testimony and the testimony of several other prosecution witnesses, Wyatt and Holliday's lawyers were presented with a writ of habeas corpus from the probate court and appeared before Judge John Henry Lucas. After arguments were given, the Judge ordered them to be put in jail. By the time Ike Clanton took the stand on November 9, the prosecution had built an impressive case. Several prosecution witnesses had testified that Tom McLaury was unarmed, that Billy Clanton had his hands in the air and that neither of the McLaurys were troublemakers. They portrayed Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury as being unjustly bullied and beaten by the vengeful Earps on the day of the gunfight. The Earps and Holliday looked certain to be convicted and executed until Ike Clanton inadvertently came to their rescue.

Clanton's testimony repeated the story of abuse that he had suffered at the hands of the Earps and Holliday the night before the gunfight. He reiterated that Holliday and Morgan Earp had fired the first two shots and that the next several shots also came from the Earp party. Then under cross-examination, Clanton started to contradict his earlier statements. By the time he finished his testimony, the entire prosecution case had become suspect. The first witness for the defense was Wyatt Earp. He read a prepared statement explaining that they were going to disarm the cowboys and that they fired on them in self defense. Because of Arizona's territorial laws allowing a defendant in a preliminary hearing to make a statement in his behalf without facing cross-examination, the prosecution never got a chance to question Earp. After the defense had clearly established serious doubts about the prosecution's case, the judge allowed Holliday and Earp to return to their homes in time for Thanksgiving.

Spicer ruled that the evidence indicated that the Earps and Holliday acted within the law and he invited the Cochise County grand jury to reevaluate his decision. Spicer did not condone the Earps' actions and he criticize Virgil Earp's choice of deputies, but he concluded that no laws were broken. Even though the Earps and Holliday were free, their reputation was tarnished. Tombstone residents became very worried about cowboy retribution and they blamed the Earps for placing the citizenry in danger. Many people in Tombstone looked upon the Earps as robbers and murderers. On December 16, the grand jury decided not to reverse Spicer's decision.

Cowboy revenge

On December 28, while walking toward his room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Virgil was shot by three men using double-barreled shotguns. His left arm and shoulder took the brunt of the damage. Ike Clanton's hat was found in the back of the building from where the shots were fired. Wyatt wired U.S. Marshal Crawley Dake asking to be appointed a U.S. Marshal with authority to select his own deputies. Dake responded by doing exactly that. In mid-January, Earp sold his gambling concessions at the Oriental when Rickabaugh sold the saloon to Milt Joyce, an Earp adversary. On February 2, 1882, Wyatt and Virgil, tired of all the criticism leveled against them, submitted their resignations to Dake, who refused to accept them. On the same day, Wyatt sent a message to Ike Clanton that said he wanted reconcile their differences and obliterate the animosity between them. Clanton refused. Also on the same day, Clanton was acquitted of the charges against him in the shooting of Virgil Earp when a the defense brought in seven witnesses that testified that Clanton was in Charleston at the time of the shooting.

Clanton went before the Justice of the Peace J. B. Smith in Contention and again file charges against the Earps and Holliday for the murder of Billy Clanton and the McLaurys. A large posse escorted the Earps to Contention, fearing that the cowboys would try to ambush the Earps on the unprotected roadway, with just Behan serving as guard. The charges were dismissed by Judge Lucas because of Smith's judicial ineptness. The prosecution immediately filed a new warrant for murder charges, issued by Justice Smith, but Judge Lucas quickly dismissed it, writing in his decision that new evidence would have to be submitted before a second hearing would be called. Because of the November hearing before Spicer was not a trial, Clanton had the right to continue pushing for prosecution, but they would have to come up with some new evidence of murder before the case could be considered.

After attending a show of Stolen Kisses on March 18, Morgan Earp wanted to play some pool. Wyatt tried to convince Morgan to head home because he had been hearing rumors that the cowboys were going to attack that night. Morgan insisted on playing a game of pool, so they headed to Campbell and Hatch's saloon. At ten minutes before 11, Morgan walked around the table to line up a shot, leaving his back to the glass door at the rear of the room. With the lights on inside, anyone standing in the alley could easily see through the glass and spot the figures inside. While Morgan leaned over the table to take the shot, a shotgun blast came through the glass and hit Morgan in the side. A second shot hit the wall just over Wyatt's head. By the time anybody could get to the alley, the assassins were gone. Morgan died from his wounds about an hour later.

The Arizona Vendetta

Wyatt, determined to avenge one brother's death and another brother's maiming, made arrangements to send Virgil and his wife Allie to the family home in Colton, California. When Wyatt took Virgil and Allie to the train station in Contention, he received a warning that the Ike Clanton, Frank Stilwell, Billy Miller and another cowboy were watching all the trains leaving the area so they could kill Virgil. Wyatt, Warren Earp, Holliday, John Johnson and Sherman McMasters decided to stay on the train until it reached Tucson. After having dinner in Tucson, Virgil and Allie got back on board headed for California. When the train pulled away from the station, the firing commenced.

Apparently Wyatt saw Stilwell and another man he believed to be Clanton lying prone on a flatcar, shotguns in hand. As Wyatt approached, the two men ran. Stilwell stumbled, and, by Wyatt's own admission, he shot Stilwell while Stilwell was begging for his life. Wyatt Earp, a man who took pride in avoiding bloodshed, had crossed the line to become what Clanton always claimed he was, a murderer. Clanton once again got away. A warrant against Wyatt, Warren, Holliday, McMasters and Johnson for the murder of Stilwell was issued.

Based on the testimony of Pete Spence's wife, Marietta, at the coroners inquest on the killing of Morgan, the coroners jury concluded that Spence, Stilwell, Frederick Bode, and Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz were the prime suspects in the assassination of Morgan Earp. Spence immediately turned himself in so that he would be protected in Behan's jail instead of out in the open where Wyatt could find him. The trial for the murder of Morgan Earp began on April 2 and ended very quickly when the prosecution called Mrs. Spence to the stand and the defense objected. The prosecution dropped the case.

Pima County justice of the peace Charles Meyer sent a telegram to Tombstone saying that the Earps were wanted in Tucson for the killing of Stilwell, and Behan should arrest them. The manager of the telegraph office, a friend of the Earps, showed the message to Wyatt before delivering it to Behan; he agreed to hold on to it long enough for the Earp posse to leave town again. Behan got the message just as Earp's posse was getting ready to leave. Behan approached them to arrest them, but they told him that they would be seeing Pima County sheriff Bob Paul about the matter and rode out of town.

By then, "Texas" Jack Vermillion had joined the Earp posse and Behan had deputized Johnny Ringo, Fin Clanton and other cowboys so that they could be part of the posse that went out to arrest the Earps for the murder of Stilwell. Before Behan's posse reached the Earps, the Earps found Cruz in the Dragoon Mountains. After getting Cruz to confess to being the lookout while Stilwell, Hank Swelling, Curly Bill and Ringo killed Morgan, Wyatt shot Cruz.

In Iron Springs, Arizona, the Earp party was ambushed by a posse led by Curley Bill. Wyatt jumped from his horse to fight when he noticed the rest of his posse retreating as fast as their horses could carry them. Curley Bill got off a few shots that perforated Wyatt's long coat before Wyatt returned fire and hit Curley Bill in the chest with a shotgun blast. After the gunfight, the Earp party returned to the outskirts of Tombstone where Charlie Smith joined the posse.

Life after Tombstone

Missing image
The "Dodge City Police Commission" from left to right, standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown

After the killing of Curley Bill, the Earps left Arizona and headed to Colorado. In a stop over in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wyatt and Holliday had a falling out, but remained on fairly good terms. The group split up after that with Holliday heading to Pueblo and then Denver. The Earps and Texas Jack set up camp on the outskirts of Gunnison, Colorado where they remained quite at first, rarely going into town for supplies. Eventually, Wyatt took over a faro game at a local saloon.

Earp's actions created a debate that lasted for years - law versus order, the right of self-preservation over adherence to legal structure. To some, Wyatt Earp will always be a hero that made Arizona safe for commerce, but to others he will always be the ultimate vision of evil, perhaps even the mastermind of stage coach robberies.

Slowly all of the Earp assets in Tombstone were sold to pay for taxes, and the stake the family had amassed eroded. Wyatt and Warren join Virgil in San Francisco in late 1882. While there, Wyatt rekindled the affair that he had with Sadie Marcus, Behan's one-time fiance, while his wife, Mattie waited for him in Colton. Earp left with Sadie in 1883 and she became his companion for the next forty-six years. Earp and Marcus returned to Gunnison where they settled down and Earp continued to run a faro bank.

In 1883, Earp returned, along with Bat Masterson, to Dodge City to help a friend deal with the corrupt mayor. What became known as the Dodge City War, was started with the mayor of Dodge City tried to run Luke Short out of business and then out of town. Short appealed to Masterson who contacted Earp. While Short was discussing the matter with Governor George Washington Glick in Kansas City, Earp showed up with Johnny Millsap, Shotgun Collins, Texas Jack Vermillion and Johnny Green and marched up Front Street into Short's saloon. There they were sworn in as deputies by constable "Prairie Dog" Dave Marrow. The town council offered a compromise to allow Short to return for ten days to get his affairs in order, but Earp said there would be no compromises. When Short returned, there was no force ready to turn him away. The Dodge City War ended without a shot being fired.

Earp spent the next decade running saloons and gambling concessions and investing in mines in Colorado and Idaho, with stops in various boom towns. In 1886 Earp and Sadie moved to San Diego and stayed there about four years. On July 3, 1888, Mattie Earp committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum. The Earps moved back to San Francisco during the 1890s so Sadie could be closer to her family and Wyatt closer to his new job, managing a horse stable in Santa Rosa. During the summer of 1896, Earp wrote his memoirs with the help of a ghost writer. On December 3, 1896, Earp was the referee for the boxing match to determine the heavyweight championship of the world. During the fight Bob Fitzsimmons, clearly in control, landed a low blow against Tom Sharkey. Earp awarded the victory to Sharkey and was accused of committing fraud. Fitzsimmons had an injunction put on the prize money until the courts could determine who the rightful winner was. The judge in the case decided that because fighting, and therefore prize fighting, was illegal in San Francisco, that the courts wouldn't determine who the real winner was. The decision provided no vindication for Earp.

In the fall of 1897, Earp and Sadie chased another gold rush, this time to Alaska. Earp ran several saloons and gambling concessions in Nome. They would return to San Francisco or Seattle, Washington. While living in Alaska, Earp met and became friends with Jack London. Controversy continued to follow Earp and he was arrested several times for different minor offenses.

The Earps eventually moved to Hollywood, where he met several famous and soon to be famous actors on the sets of various movies. On the set of one movie, he met a young extra and prop man who would eventually become John Wayne. Wayne would later tell Hugh O'Brian that he based his image of the Western lawman on his conversations with Earp. But his best friend in Hollywood was William S. Hart, the biggest cowboy star of his time. In the early 1920s, Earp served as deputy sheriff in a mostly ceremonial position in San Bernardino County.

Missing image
Wyatt Earp's tombstone

When Wyatt died of chronic cystitis in 1929 at age 80, Sadie buried Wyatt's ashes in the Marcus family plot at the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery (Josie was Jewish) in Colma, California. When she died in 1944, Josie's remains were buried next to Wyatt's.

Movies and television

Wyatt Earp has been portrayed many different times in the movies and on television.

Wyatt Earp in fiction

In the long narrative poem Wyatt Earp in Dallas, 1963 (ISBN 0969963904) by Steve McCabe, Earp received a prophecy from a prisoner who foretold the invention of television and the death of President Kennedy. Earp, motivated by this prophecy, time-traveled to Dallas to prevent JFK's assassination.


External links

es:Wyatt Earp nl:Wyatt Earp ja:ワイアット・アープ sv:Wyatt Earp


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