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Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

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Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929) was an American gambler, investor, and law enforcement officer who served in several Western
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 frontier
Frontier
A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

 towns. He was also at different times a farmer, teamster
Teamster
A teamster, in modern American English, is a truck driver. The trade union named after them is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters , one of the largest unions in the United States....

, bouncer
Bouncer (doorman)
A bouncer is an informal term for a type of security guard employed at venues such as bars, nightclubs or concerts to provide security, check legal age, and refuse entry to a venue based on criteria such as intoxication, aggressive behavior, or attractiveness...

, saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

-keeper, miner and boxing referee. However, he was never a drover or cowboy. He is most well known for his part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a roughly 30-second gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States. Outlaw Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight, unharmed, but Ike's brother...

 during which three outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

 Cowboys
The Cowboys (Cochise County)
The Cowboys were a loosely associated group of outlaw cowboys in Pima and Cochise County, Arizona Territory in the late 19th century. They were cattle rustlers and robbers who rode across the border into Mexico and rounded up cattle that they then sold in the United States...

 were killed. The 30-second gunfight would define the rest of his life. Earp's modern-day reputation is that of Old West's
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 "toughest and deadliest gunman of his day."

Earp spent his early life in Iowa. After his first wife, Urilla Sutherland Earp, died, he was arrested, sued twice, escaped from jail, then was arrested three more times for "keeping and being found in a house of ill-fame
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

". He landed in the cattle boomtown
Boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

 of Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

 where he became a deputy marshal for one year and developed a solid reputation as a lawman. In 1876 he followed his brother James
James Earp
James Cooksey Earp was the little known older brother to old west lawman Virgil Earp and lawman/gambler Wyatt Earp. Unlike his lawmen brothers, he was a saloon-keeper and was not present at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral....

 to Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a city in, and the county seat of, Ford County, Kansas, United States. Named after nearby Fort Dodge, the city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.-History:The first settlement of...

 where he became an assistant marshal. In the winter of 1878 he went to Texas to gamble where he met John Henry "Doc" Holliday
Doc Holliday
John Henry "Doc" Holliday was an American gambler, gunfighter and dentist of the American Old West, who is usually remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral...

 whom Earp credited with saving his life.

Continually drawn to boomtowns and opportunity, Earp left Dodge City in 1879 and with his brothers James and Virgil
Virgil Earp
Virgil Walter Earp fought in the Civil War. He was U.S. Deputy Marshal for south-eastern Arizona and Tombstone City Marshal at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the Arizona Territory. Two months after the shootout in Tombstone, outlaw Cowboys ambushed Virgil on the streets of...

, moved to Tombstone, Arizona
Tombstone, Arizona
Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then Pima County, Arizona Territory. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. From about 1877 to 1890, the town's mines produced USD $40 to $85 million...

. The Earps bought an interest in the Vizina mine and some water rights. There, the Earps clashed with a loose federation of outlaw Cowboys
The Cowboys (Cochise County)
The Cowboys were a loosely associated group of outlaw cowboys in Pima and Cochise County, Arizona Territory in the late 19th century. They were cattle rustlers and robbers who rode across the border into Mexico and rounded up cattle that they then sold in the United States...

. Wyatt, Virgil and their younger brother Morgan
Morgan Earp
Morgan Seth Earp was the younger brother of Deputy U.S. Marshals Virgil and Wyatt Earp. Morgan was a deputy of Virgil's and all three men were the target of repeated death threats made by outlaw Cowboys who were upset by the Earps' interference in their illegal activities. This conflict eventually...

 held various law enforcement positions that put them in conflict with Tom and Frank McLaury and Ike
Ike Clanton
Joseph Isaac Clanton was born in Callaway County, Missouri. He is best known for being a member of group of outlaw Cowboys that had ongoing conflicts with lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan Earp and Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday. The Clantons repeatedly threatened the Earps because they interfered with...

 and Billy Clanton, who threatened to kill the Earps. The conflict escalated over the next year, culminating on October 26, 1881 in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a roughly 30-second gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States. Outlaw Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight, unharmed, but Ike's brother...

, during which the Earps and Holliday killed three of the Cowboys. In the next five months, Virgil was ambushed and maimed and Morgan was assassinated. Wyatt, his brother Warren, Holliday, and others pursued the Cowboys they thought responsible in a vendetta
Earp vendetta ride
The Earp Vendetta Ride, lasting from March 20 to April 15, 1882, was a manhunt for outlaw Cowboys led by newly appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. He was searching for men he held responsible for maiming his brother Virgil, the Tombstone Marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal, and assassinating his...

.

After leaving Tombstone, Earp continually invested in various mining interests and saloons. He and his third wife in their later years moved between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert, where the town of Earp, California
Earp, California
Earp, California is an unincorporated townsite in San Bernardino County in the Sonoran Desert close to the California/Arizona state line at the Colorado River in Parker Valley....

 was named after him. Although his brother Virgil had far more experience as a sheriff, constable, and marshal, because Wyatt outlived Virgil and due to a largely fictionalized biography written by Stuart Lake that made Wyatt famous, he has been the subject of and model for a large number of movies, TV shows, biographies and works of fiction.

Early life


Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, Illinois
Monmouth, Illinois
Monmouth is a city in and the county seat of Warren County in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the home of Monmouth College and contains Monmouth Park, Harmon Park, North Park, Warfield Park, West Park, South Park, Garwood Park, Buster White Park and the Citizens Lake & Campground. It is the host...

, on March 19, 1848, to widower Nicholas Porter Earp
Nicholas Porter Earp
Nicholas Porter Earp was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, to Walter and Martha Ann Earp. He is most famously known as the father of OK Corral shootout participants and Old West lawmen Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, and Morgan Earp.Nicholas' father Walter Earp, a school teacher and Methodist...

 and Virginia Ann Cooksey. From his father's first marriage, Wyatt had an elder half-brother, Newton
Newton Earp
Newton Jasper Earp was the eldest child of Nicholas Porter Earp, patriarch of the famous Earp family. While he was the little known half-brother of Old West lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, Newton remained close to his father and half-siblings, residing in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, California,...

, and a half-sister Mariah Ann, who died at the age of ten months. Wyatt was named after his father's commanding officer in the Mexican-American War, Captain Wyatt Berry Stapp, of the 2nd Company Illinois Mounted Volunteers. In March 1849, the Earps left Monmouth for California but settled in Iowa. Their new farm consisted of 160 acre (0.6474976 km²), 7 miles (11.3 km) northeast of Pella, Iowa
Pella, Iowa
Pella is a city in Marion County, Iowa, United States. The population was 9,832 at the 2000 census. Pella is the home of Central College as well as several manufacturing companies, including Pella Corporation and Vermeer Manufacturing Company.- History :...

.

On March 4, 1856, Earp's father Nicholas sold his farm and returned to Turtle, Illinois, where he was elected the municipal constable
Constable
A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdictions.-Etymology:...

, serving at this post for about three years. He was caught and convicted in 1859 for bootlegging
Rum-running
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

. Nicholas was unable to pay the fines and a lien was put against the Earp's property. It was sold at auction in November 1859, and the family left again for Pella, Iowa. After their move, Nicholas returned to Monmouth throughout 1860 to sell his other properties and to resolve several lawsuits for debt and accusations of tax evasion.

During the family's second stay in Pella, the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 began. Newton
Newton Earp
Newton Jasper Earp was the eldest child of Nicholas Porter Earp, patriarch of the famous Earp family. While he was the little known half-brother of Old West lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, Newton remained close to his father and half-siblings, residing in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, California,...

, James
James Earp
James Cooksey Earp was the little known older brother to old west lawman Virgil Earp and lawman/gambler Wyatt Earp. Unlike his lawmen brothers, he was a saloon-keeper and was not present at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral....

, and Virgil
Virgil Earp
Virgil Walter Earp fought in the Civil War. He was U.S. Deputy Marshal for south-eastern Arizona and Tombstone City Marshal at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the Arizona Territory. Two months after the shootout in Tombstone, outlaw Cowboys ambushed Virgil on the streets of...

 joined the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 on November 11, 1861. While his father was busy recruiting and drilling local companies, Wyatt, along with his two younger brothers, Morgan and Warren, were left in charge of tending 80 acres (32.4 ha) corn crop. Only 13 years old, Wyatt was too young to enlist, but he tried on several occasions to run away and join the army. Each time his father found him and brought him home. James was severely wounded in Fredericktown
Fredericktown, Missouri
Fredericktown is a city in and the county seat of Madison County, Missouri, United States, in the northeastern foothills of the Ozark Mountains. The population was 3,928 at the 2000 census...

, Missouri, and returned home in the summer of 1863. Newton and Virgil fought several battles in the east and later returned. On May 12, 1864, the Earp family joined a wagon train
Wagon train
A wagon train is a group of wagons traveling together. In the American West, individuals traveling across the plains in covered wagons banded together for mutual assistance, as is reflected in numerous films and television programs about the region, such as Audie Murphy's Tumbleweed and Ward Bond...

 heading to California.

California


By late summer 1865, Virgil found work as a driver for Phineas Banning
Phineas Banning
Phineas Banning was an American businessman, financier, and entrepreneur.Known as "The Father of the Port of Los Angeles," he was one of the founders of the town of Wilmington, which was named for his birthplace...

's Stage Coach Line in California's Imperial Valley, and 16 year old Wyatt assisted. In the spring of 1866, Wyatt Earp became a teamster
Teamster
A teamster, in modern American English, is a truck driver. The trade union named after them is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters , one of the largest unions in the United States....

, transporting cargo for Chris Taylor. His assigned trail for 1866–1868 was from Wilmington
Wilmington, Los Angeles, California
Wilmington is a district of Los Angeles, with industry as its primary economic activity. It lies adjacent to the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, and Harbor City. Wilmington is the site of Banning House and Drum Barracks, or Camp Drum, the only major American Civil War landmark in California. The...

, through San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
San Bernardino is a city located in the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area , and serves as the county seat of San Bernardino County, California, United States...

 and Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Nevada, to Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.

In the spring of 1868, Earp was hired by Charles Chrisman to transport supplies for the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad
The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....

. He learned gambling and boxing while working on the railhead in Wyoming, and refereed a fight between John Shanssey
John Shanssey
John Shanssey was an American boxer, gambler, saloon owner, and Mayor of Yuma, Arizona, most known for introducing legendary lawman Wyatt Earp to gambler and gunman Doc Holliday.-References:*...

 and Mike Donovan
Professor Mike Donovan
Mike Donovan also known as Professor Mike Donovan and Mike O'Donovan was a middleweight boxer of the bare-knuckle era and later became one of the foremost teachers of the sport....

.

Lawman


In the spring of 1868, the Earps moved east again to Lamar, Missouri
Lamar, Missouri
Lamar is a city in Barton County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,474 at the 2011 census. It is the county seat of Barton County. Lamar is well known as the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman.-Geography:...

, where Wyatt's father Nicholas became the local constable. Wyatt rejoined the family the next year. When Nicholas resigned on November 17, 1869 as constable to become the justice of the peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

, Wyatt was appointed constable in his place. On November 26 and in return for his appointment, Earp filed a bond
Surety bond
A surety bond is a promise to pay one party a certain amount if a second party fails to meet some obligation, such as fulfilling the terms of a contract...

 of $1,000. 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.

Marriage


In late 1869, Wyatt met Urilla Sutherland (1849–c.1870), the daughter of hotel-keeper William and Permelia Sutherland, formerly of New York City. They married in Lamar on January 10, 1870 and in August 1870 bought a lot on the outskirts of town for $50. Urilla was pregnant with and about to deliver their first child when she died from Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

 later that year. In November, 1870 Wyatt sold the lot and a house on it for $75. He ran against his elder half-brother Newton for the office of constable, winning by 137 votes to Newton's 108.

Lawsuits and charges


After Urilla died Wyatt began having a number of problems. On March 14, 1871, Barton County, Missouri filed a lawsuit against Earp and his sureties. He was in charge of collecting license fees for Lamar which were used to fund the local schools. Earp was accused of failing to turn in the fees. On March 31, James Cromwell filed a lawsuit against Wyatt, alleging that Wyatt had falsified court documents about the amount of money Earp had collected from Cromwell to satisfy a judgment. To make up the difference between what Earp turned in and Cromwell actually owed (and claimed he had paid), the court seized Cromwell's mowing machine and sold it for $38. Cromwell's suit claimed Earp owed him $75, the estimated value of the machine.

On March 28, 1871 Wyatt, Edward Kennedy and John Shown were each charged with stealing two horses, "each of the value of one hundred dollars", from William Keys while in the Indian Country
Indian Country
Indian country is a term used to describe the many self-governing Native American communities throughout the United States. This usage is reflected in many places, both legal and colloquial...

. On April 6, Deputy United States Marshal
United States Marshals Service
The United States Marshals Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice . The office of U.S. Marshal is the oldest federal law enforcement office in the United States; it was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

 J. G. Owens arrested Earp for the horse theft. Commissioner James Churchill arraigned Earp on April 14 and set bail at $500. On May 15, an indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

 against Earp, Kennedy and Shown was issued. Anna Shown, John Shown's wife, claimed that Earp and Kennedy got her husband drunk and then threatened his life to persuade him to help. On June 5 Edward Kennedy was acquitted while the case against Earp and John Shown remained. Earp didn't wait for the trial. He climbed out through the roof of his jail and headed for Peoria, Illinois.

Peoria, Illinois


Wyatt's biographer Lake reported that Wyatt took to hunting buffalo during the winter of 1871-72, but Earp was arrested three times in the Peoria
Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, in the United States. It is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007, and is the third-most populated...

 area during that period. Earp is listed in the city directory
City directory
A city directory is a listing of residents, streets, businesses, organizations or institutions, giving their location in a city. Antedating telephone directories, they have been in use for centuries....

 for Peoria during 1872 as a resident in the house of Jane Haspel, who operated a brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

. In February 1872, Peoria police raided the brothel, arresting four women and three men: 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 plus costs for the criminal infraction. He was arrested for the same crime in May 1872 and late September 1872. It’s not known if he was a pimp. He may have been an enforcer or bouncer
Bouncer (doorman)
A bouncer is an informal term for a type of security guard employed at venues such as bars, nightclubs or concerts to provide security, check legal age, and refuse entry to a venue based on criteria such as intoxication, aggressive behavior, or attractiveness...

. He may have hunted buffalo during 1873-74 before he went to Wichita.

Wichita, Kansas


Like Ellsworth
Ellsworth, Kansas
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Ellsworth County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 3,120.-19th century:...

, Wichita
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

 was a train terminal which was a destination for cattle drives originating in Texas. Such cattle boomtowns on the frontier were raucous places filled with drunken, armed cowboys celebrating at the end of long drives. When the summer-time cattle drives ended and the cowboys left, Earp was searching for something to do. In October 1874, he earned a bit of money helping an off duty police officer find thieves who had stolen a man’s wagon. He got his name in the paper. Earp officially joined the Wichita marshal's office on April 21, 1875, after the election of Mike Meagher as city marshal or police chief, making $100 per month. He also dealt faro
Faro (card game)
Faro, Pharaoh, or Farobank, is a late 17th century French gambling card game descendant of basset, and belongs to the lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games, in that it is played between a banker and several players winning or losing according to the cards turned up matching those already...

 at the Long Branch Saloon.

In late 1875, the local paper (Wichita Beacon) published this story:
Earp was embarrassed in early 1876 when his loaded single-action revolver fell out of his holster while he was leaning back on a chair and discharged when the hammer hit the floor. The bullet went through his coat and out through the ceiling.

Wyatt's stint as Wichita deputy came to a sudden end on April 2, 1876, when Earp took too active an interest in the city marshal's election. According to news accounts, former marshal Bill Smith accused Wyatt of using his office to help hire his brothers as lawmen. Wyatt got into a fistfight with Smith and beat him. Meagher was forced to fire and arrest Earp for disturbing the peace, the end of a tour of duty which the papers called otherwise "unexceptionable." When Meagher won the election, the city council was split evenly on re-hiring Earp. When his brother James opened a brothel in Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a city in, and the county seat of, Ford County, Kansas, United States. Named after nearby Fort Dodge, the city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.-History:The first settlement of...

, Wyatt joined him.

Dodge City, Kansas


After 1875, Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a city in, and the county seat of, Ford County, Kansas, United States. Named after nearby Fort Dodge, the city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.-History:The first settlement of...

 became a major terminal for cattle brought
Cattle drive
For the 1951 film, see Cattle Drive .A cattle drive is the process of moving a herd of cattle from one place to another, usually moved and herded by cowboys on horses.-Australia:Australia is noted for long drives...

 up from Texas along the Chisholm Trail
Chisholm Trail
The Chisholm Trail was a trail used in the late 19th century to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The portion of the trail marked by Jesse Chisholm went from his southern trading post near the Red River, to his northern trading post near Kansas City, Kansas...

. Earp was appointed assistant marshal in Dodge City under Marshal Larry Deger in 1876. There is evidence that Earp spent the winter of 1876–77 in another boomtown
Boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

, Deadwood
Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood is a city in South Dakota, United States, and the county seat of Lawrence County. It is named for the dead trees found in its gulch. The population was 1,270 according to a 2010 census...

, Dakota Territory
Dakota Territory
The Territory of Dakota was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1861, until November 2, 1889, when the final extent of the reduced territory was split and admitted to the Union as the states of North and South Dakota.The Dakota Territory consisted of...

. He was not on the police force in Dodge City in late 1877, and rejoined the force in the spring of 1878. The Dodge newspaper reported in July 1878 that he had been fined $1.00 for slapping a muscular prostitute named Frankie Bell, who (according to the papers) "...heaped epithets upon the unoffending head of Mr. Earp to such an extent as to provide a slap from the ex-officer..." Bell spent the night in jail and was fined $20.00, while Earp's fine was the legal minimum.

In October 1877, Earp left Dodge City to gamble throughout Texas. He stopped at Fort Griffin
Fort Griffin
Fort Griffin was a Cavalry fort established in the late 1860s in the northern part of West Texas, specifically northwestern Shackelford County, to give settlers protection from early Comanche and Kiowa raids...

, Texas before returning to Dodge City in 1878 to become the assistant city marshal, serving under Charlie Bassett. He may have met John Henry "Doc" Holliday
Doc Holliday
John Henry "Doc" Holliday was an American gambler, gunfighter and dentist of the American Old West, who is usually remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral...

 while in Texas. In the summer of 1878, Holliday assisted Earp during a bar room confrontation when Wyatt "was surrounded by desperadoes." Earp credited Holliday with saving his life that day. They became friends as a result.

While in Dodge City, he became acquainted with Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

, Luke Short
Luke Short
Western frontiersman Luke L. Short was a noted gunfighter, who had worked as a farmer, cowboy, whiskey peddler, army scout, dispatch rider, gambler and saloon keeper at various times during the four decades of his life.- Early life :...

, and Celia Anne "Mattie" Blaylock
Mattie Blaylock
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about 8 years...

 who worked as a prostitute. She became Earp's companion until 1881. When Earp resigned from the Dodge City police force on September 9, 1879, she accompanied him to Las Vegas
Las Vegas, New Mexico
Las Vegas is a city in San Miguel County, New Mexico, United States. Once two separate municipalities both named Las Vegas, west Las Vegas and east Las Vegas , divided by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000...

, New Mexico, and then Tombstone, Arizona.

George Hoyt shooting


At about 3:00 in the morning of July 26, 1878, George Hoyt (spelled in some accounts as "Hoy") and other drunken cowboys shot their guns wildly, including three shots into the Comique Theater, causing comedian Eddie Foy to throw himself to the stage floor in the middle of his act. Fortunately, no one was injured. Assistant Marshal Earp and Policeman James Masterson
James Masterson
James Masterson, also known as Jim Masterson, was a lawman of the American West and the brother of gunfighters and lawmen Bat Masterson and Ed Masterson.-Lawman career:...

 responded and "together with several citizens, turned their pistols loose in the direction of the flying horsemen." As the riders crossed the Arkansas river bridge south of town, George Hoyt "fell from his horse from weakness caused by a wound in the arm which he had received during the fracas. Hoyt developed gangrene
Gangrene
Gangrene is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies . This may occur after an injury or infection, or in people suffering from any chronic health problem affecting blood circulation. The primary cause of gangrene is reduced blood...

 and died on August 21. Earp claimed to have sighted on Hoyt against the morning horizon and to have fired the fatal shot, but Hoyt could easily have been shot by Masterson or one of the citizens in the crowd.

Move to Tombstone, Arizona


Wyatt's older brother Virgil
Virgil Earp
Virgil Walter Earp fought in the Civil War. He was U.S. Deputy Marshal for south-eastern Arizona and Tombstone City Marshal at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the Arizona Territory. Two months after the shootout in Tombstone, outlaw Cowboys ambushed Virgil on the streets of...

 was in Prescott
Prescott, Arizona
Prescott is a city in Yavapai County, Arizona, USA. It was designated "Arizona's Christmas City" by Arizona Governor Rose Mofford in the late 1980s....

, Arizona Territory
Arizona Territory
The Territory of Arizona was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from February 24, 1863 until February 14, 1912, when it was admitted to the Union as the 48th state....

 in 1879 and wrote Wyatt about the opportunities in the nearby silver-mining boom town
Boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

 of Tombstone
Tombstone, Arizona
Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then Pima County, Arizona Territory. It was one of the last wide-open frontier boomtowns in the American Old West. From about 1877 to 1890, the town's mines produced USD $40 to $85 million...

. In the fall of 1879, Wyatt, his common-law wife Mattie Blaylock
Mattie Blaylock
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about 8 years...

, his brother Jim
James Earp
James Cooksey Earp was the little known older brother to old west lawman Virgil Earp and lawman/gambler Wyatt Earp. Unlike his lawmen brothers, he was a saloon-keeper and was not present at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral....

 and his wife, and Doc Holliday and his common-law wife Big Nose Kate
Big Nose Kate
Mary Katherine Horony Cummings , known as Big Nose Kate, was the Hungarian-born long-time companion and common-law wife of fabled gambler and gunfighter Doc Holliday in the American Old West....

, all left for Arizona. They stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico
Las Vegas, New Mexico
Las Vegas is a city in San Miguel County, New Mexico, United States. Once two separate municipalities both named Las Vegas, west Las Vegas and east Las Vegas , divided by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000...

 and at other locations, arriving in Prescott in November. The three Earps moved with their wives to Tombstone while Doc remained in Prescott where the gambling afforded better opportunities. Tombstone had grown from less than 100 souls in March 1879 to about 1000 in less than a year. On November 27, 1879, three days before moving to Tombstone, Virgil was appointed by Crawley P. Dake, U.S. Marshal for the Arizona Territory, as Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Tombstone mining district, some 280 miles (450.6 km) from Prescott. The Deputy U.S. Marshal in Tombstone represented federal authority in the southeast area of the territory.

Wyatt brought horses and a buckboard wagon that he planned to convert into a stagecoach
Stagecoach
A stagecoach is a type of covered wagon for passengers and goods, strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places of rest provided for stagecoach travelers...

, but on arrival he found two established stage lines already running. In Tombstone, the Earps staked mining claims and water rights interests, attempting to capitalize on the mining boom. Jim worked as a barkeep. On December 6, 1879, the three Earps and Robert J. Winders filed a location notice for the First North Extension of the Mountain Maid Mine. When none of their business interests proved fruitful, Wyatt was hired in April or May 1880 by Wells, Fargo & Co.
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is an American multinational diversified financial services company with operations around the world. Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank in the U.S. by assets and the largest bank by market capitalization. Wells Fargo is the second largest bank in deposits, home...

 agent John Clum
John Clum
John Philip Clum was an Indian agent for the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. He implemented a limited form of self-government on the reservation that was so successful that other reservations were closed and their residents moved to San Carlos. Clum later became the...

  as a shotgun messenger
Shotgun messenger
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a shotgun messenger was a private "express messenger" and guard, especially on a stagecoach but also on a train, in charge of overseeing and guarding a valuable private shipment, such as particularly the contents of a strongbox or safe...

 on stagecoaches when they transported Wells Fargo strongboxes
Safe
A safe is a secure lockable box used for securing valuable objects against theft or damage. A safe is usually a hollow cuboid or cylinder, with one face removable or hinged to form a door. The body and door may be cast from metal or formed out of plastic through blow molding...

. In the summer of 1880, younger brothers Morgan
Morgan Earp
Morgan Seth Earp was the younger brother of Deputy U.S. Marshals Virgil and Wyatt Earp. Morgan was a deputy of Virgil's and all three men were the target of repeated death threats made by outlaw Cowboys who were upset by the Earps' interference in their illegal activities. This conflict eventually...

 arrived from Montana and Warren Earp
Warren Earp
Baxter Warren Earp was the youngest brother of Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, James, and Newton Earp. He was not present during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. After Virgil was maimed in an ambush, he joined Wyatt and was in town when Morgan was assassinated. He helped Wyatt in the hunt for the outlaw...

 moved to Tombstone as well. In September, Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday
Doc Holliday
John Henry "Doc" Holliday was an American gambler, gunfighter and dentist of the American Old West, who is usually remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral...

 arrived from Prescott.

Becomes lawman


On July 25, 1880, Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp accused Frank McLaury of stealing six Army mules from Camp Rucker. McLaury was a Cowboy
The Cowboys (Cochise County)
The Cowboys were a loosely associated group of outlaw cowboys in Pima and Cochise County, Arizona Territory in the late 19th century. They were cattle rustlers and robbers who rode across the border into Mexico and rounded up cattle that they then sold in the United States...

, which in that time and region was generally regarded as an outlaw. Legitimate cowmen were referred to as cattle herders or ranchers. Stealing the mules was a federal offense because the animals were U.S. property. U.S. Army Captain Hurst asked for Wyatt's assistance and they caught the McLaurys in the act of changing the "U.S." brand
Livestock branding
Livestock branding is a technique for marking livestock so as to identify the owner. Originally, livestock branding only referred to a hot brand for large stock, though the term is now also used to refer to other alternative techniques such as freeze branding...

 to "D.8." To avoid a gunfight, the posse withdrew with the understanding that the mules would be returned, which they were not. In response, Capt. Hurst published an account in the papers, damaging Frank McLaury's reputation. Capt. Hurst cautioned Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan that the cowboys had threatened their lives. A month later Earp ran into Frank and Tom McLaury in Charleston, and they told him if he ever followed them as he had done before, they would kill him.

On July 28, Wyatt was appointed deputy sheriff for the eastern part of Pima County
Pima County, Arizona
-2010:Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:*74.3% White*3.5% Black*3.3% Native American*2.6% Asian*0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander*3.7% Two or more races*12.4% Other races*34.6% Hispanic or Latino -2000:...

 which included Tombstone. But Wyatt only served for about three months. The deputy sheriff's position was worth more than USD$40,000 a year (about $ today) because he was also county assessor and tax collector, and the board of supervisors allowed him to keep ten percent of the amounts paid.

On October 28, 1880, popular Tombstone town marshal Fred White attempted to break up a group of late night, drunken revelers shooting at the moon on Allen Street in Tombstone. Wyatt Earp was nearby, though unarmed. He borrowed a pistol from Fred Dodge and went to assist White. When White grabbed Curly Bill Brocius
William Brocius
William "Curly Bill" Brocius was a gunman, rustler and an outlaw Cowboy in the Cochise County area of Arizona Territory during the early 1880s. He had a number of conflicts with the lawmen of the Earp family, and he was named as one of the individuals who participated Morgan Earp's assassination....

 pistol, the gun discharged, striking White in the left testicle. Wyatt pistol-whipped
Pistol-whipping
Pistol-whipping is the act of using a handgun as a blunt weapon, wielding it as if it were a club or blackjack. "Pistol-whipping" and "to pistol-whip" were reported as "new words" of American speech in 1955, with cited usages from 1940s...

 Brocius, knocking him to the ground. Then he grabbed Brocius by the collar and told him to get up. Brocius protested, asking, "What have I done?

Fred Dodge arrived on the scene. In a letter to Stewart Lake many years later, he recalled what he saw.
Wyatt told his biographer many years later that he thought Brocious was still armed at the time and didn't see Brocius' pistol on the ground in the dark until afterward. The pistol contained one expended cartridge and five live rounds. Brocius waived a preliminary hearing so he and his case could be transferred to Tucson District Court
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

. Virgil and Wyatt escorted Brocius to Tucson to stand trial, possibly saving him from a lynching
Lynching in the United States
Lynching, the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action, occurred in the United States chiefly from the late 18th century through the 1960s. Lynchings took place most frequently in the South from 1890 to the 1920s, with a peak in the annual toll in 1892.It is associated with...

. White, age 31, died of his wound two days after his shooting.

On December 27, 1880, Wyatt testified that White's shooting was accidental. Brocius expressed regret, saying he had not intended to shoot White. It was also shown that Brocius' single action revolver could be fired when half-cocked. A statement from White before he died was introduced stating that the shooting was accidental. The judge ruled that the shooting was accidental and released Brocius. Brocius remained intensely angry about how Wyatt pistol whipped him and became an enemy to the Earps.

Conflicts with Sheriff Behan



In the personal arena, 32-year-old Wyatt Earp and 35-year-old Johnny Behan
Johnny Behan
John Harris Behan was from April, 1881 to November, 1882 sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona Territory. Behan was appointed the first sheriff of the newly-created county in February, 1881. The mining boomtown of Tombstone was the new county seat and Behan's headquarters...

 shared an interest in the same beautiful 18-year-old woman, Josephine Sarah Marcus
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was an American part time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise...

. She first visited Tombstone as part of the Pauline Markham Theatre Troupe on December 1, 1879 for a one-week engagement, the same day as Wyatt and his brothers, though it's not known if they met at that time. or May 12, 1881 Behan arrived in Tombstone in September 1880 and Marcus returned from a visit to San Francisco in October when they resumed their relationship.

In the summer of 1881, Marcus found Behan in bed with the wife of a friend and kicked him out. Earp had until this time a common-law relationship with Mattie Blaylock
Mattie Blaylock
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about 8 years...

, who was listed as his wife in the 1880 census. She suffered from severe headaches and became addicted to laudanum
Laudanum
Laudanum , also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight ....

, a commonly used opiate
Opiate
In medicine, the term opiate describes any of the narcotic opioid alkaloids found as natural products in the opium poppy plant.-Overview:Opiates are so named because they are constituents or derivatives of constituents found in opium, which is processed from the latex sap of the opium poppy,...

 and pain killer. The exact details of how Marcus and Wyatt developed a relationship are not known. Marcus and Wyatt went to great lengths to keep her name out of Lake's book, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall, and Marcus threatened litigation to keep it that way.

In the professional and political arena, Earp and Behan competed for the position of Cochise County sheriff. The job was potentially very lucrative because the office holder was also county assessor and tax collector. The board of supervisors allowed the office holder to keep ten percent of the amounts paid.

Wyatt was initially appointed deputy sheriff by Democrat County Sheriff Charlie Shibell on July 28, 1880. Wyatt passed on his Wells Fargo job as shotgun messenger
Shotgun messenger
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a shotgun messenger was a private "express messenger" and guard, especially on a stagecoach but also on a train, in charge of overseeing and guarding a valuable private shipment, such as particularly the contents of a strongbox or safe...

 to Morgan. Wyatt did his job well, and from August through November his name was mentioned nearly every week by the Epitaph or the Nugget newspapers.

In November, just three months later, Shibell ran for re-election against Republican challenger Bob Paul
Robert H. Paul
Robert H. Paul was a law enforcement officer in the American Southwest for more than 30 years. He was sheriff of Pima County, Arizona Territory from April 1881 to 1886 and a friend of Deputy U.S. Marshall Virgil Earp and his brother Wyatt Earp...

. Wyatt, a Republican, favored Paul, and when Shibell won the election, Wyatt resigned on November 9, 1880, only twelve days after the White shooting. Shibell immediately appointed Behan as the new Pima deputy sheriff for eastern Pima County.

However, Paul filed charges alleging that Cowboy supporters Ike Clanton, Curly Bill Brocius, and Frank McLaury had cooperated in ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing
Ballot stuffing is the illegal act of one person submitting multiple ballots during a vote in which only one ballot per person is permitted. The name originates from the earliest days of this practice in which people literally did stuff more than one ballot in a ballot box at the same time...

. Paul was eventually declared the winner of the Pima County sheriff election in April 1881. But by that time Paul could not replace Behan with Earp because on January 1, 1881, Cochise County
Cochise County, Arizona
-2010:Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:*78.5% White*4.2% Black*1.2% Native American*1.9% Asian*0.3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander*4.0% Two or more races*9.6% Other races*32.4% Hispanic or Latino -2000:...

 was created out of the eastern portion of Pima County
Pima County, Arizona
-2010:Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:*74.3% White*3.5% Black*3.3% Native American*2.6% Asian*0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander*3.7% Two or more races*12.4% Other races*34.6% Hispanic or Latino -2000:...

.

Both Earp and Behan applied to fill the new position of Cochise County sheriff. Earp thought he had a good chance to win the position because he was the former undersheriff in the region and a Republican, like Arizona Territorial Governor John C. Fremont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

. However, Behan had political influence in Prescott.

Earp testified during the Spicer hearing after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that he and Behan had made a deal. If Earp withdrew his application to the legislature, Behan agreed to appoint Earp as undersheriff. Behan received the appointment in February 1881, but did not keep his end of the bargain and instead chose Harry Woods, a prominent Democrat. Behan testified at first that he had not made any deal with Earp, although he later admitted he had lied. Behan said he broke his promise to appoint Earp because of an incident that occurred shortly before his appointment.

This incident arose after Earp learned that one of his prize horses, stolen more than a year before, was in the possession of Ike Clanton
Ike Clanton
Joseph Isaac Clanton was born in Callaway County, Missouri. He is best known for being a member of group of outlaw Cowboys that had ongoing conflicts with lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan Earp and Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday. The Clantons repeatedly threatened the Earps because they interfered with...

 and his brother Billy. Earp and Holliday rode to the Clanton ranch near Charleston to recover the horse. On the way, they overtook Behan, who was riding in a wagon. Behan was also heading to the ranch to serve an election-hearing subpoena on Ike Clanton. Accounts differ as to what happened next. Earp later testified that when he arrived at the Clanton ranch, Billy Clanton gave up the horse even before being presented with ownership papers. According to Behan's testimony, however, Earp had told the Clantons that Behan was on his way to arrest them for horse theft. After the incident, which embarrassed both the Clantons and Behan, Behan testified that he did not want to work with Earp and chose Woods instead.

Interest in mining, gambling


Losing the undersheriff position left Wyatt Earp without a job in Tombstone; however, Wyatt and his brothers were beginning to make some money on their mining claims in the Tombstone area. In January 1881, Oriental Saloon owner Lou Rickabaugh gave Wyatt Earp a one-quarter interest in the Faro
Faro (card game)
Faro, Pharaoh, or Farobank, is a late 17th century French gambling card game descendant of basset, and belongs to the lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games, in that it is played between a banker and several players winning or losing according to the cards turned up matching those already...

 concession at the Oriental Saloon in exchange for his services as a manager and enforcer. Wyatt invited his friend, lawman and gambler Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

, to Tombstone to help him run the faro tables in the Oriental Saloon. In June 1881, Wyatt also telegraphed another friend and gambler from Dodge, Luke Short
Luke Short
Western frontiersman Luke L. Short was a noted gunfighter, who had worked as a farmer, cowboy, whiskey peddler, army scout, dispatch rider, gambler and saloon keeper at various times during the four decades of his life.- Early life :...

, who was living in Leadville, Colorado
Leadville, Colorado
Leadville is a Statutory City that is the county seat of, and the only municipality in, Lake County, Colorado, United States. Situated at an elevation of , Leadville is the highest incorporated city and the second highest incorporated municipality in the United States...

, and offered him a job as a faro dealer.

Bat remained until April, 1881, when he returned to Dodge City to assist his brother Jim
James Masterson
James Masterson, also known as Jim Masterson, was a lawman of the American West and the brother of gunfighters and lawmen Bat Masterson and Ed Masterson.-Lawman career:...

. On October 8, 1881 Doc Holliday got into a dispute with John Tyler in the Oriental Saloon. A rival gambling concession operator hired Tyler to make trouble at the Oriental and disrupt Wyatt's business. When Tyler started a fight after losing a bet, Wyatt threw him out of the saloon. Holliday later wounded Oriental owners Milt Joyce and his partner Lou Rickabaugh and was convicted of assault. Around this time Earp saved gambler Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke
Michael "Mike" O'Rourke , aka "Johnny O'Rourke" or "Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce", was a professional gambler of the Old West, whose notoriety is mainly due to Old West lawman and legend Wyatt Earp's having saving him from being lynched in Tombstone, Arizona Territory in 1881.-Life in Tombstone:O'Rourke...

  ("Johnny Behind the Deuce") from being hanged after he was arrested for murdering a miner. O'Rourke said he killed the miner in self-defense. Earp stood down a large crowd that wanted to lynch O'Rourke, an incident that added to Earp's legend as a lawman.

Cowboys rob stagecoaches


Tensions between the Earps and both the Clantons and McLaurys increased through 1881. On March 15, 1881 at 10:00 pm, three cowboys attempted to rob a Kinnear & Company stagecoach carrying USD$26,000 in silver bullion (about $ in today's dollars) near Benson, during which the popular driver Eli "Budd" Philpot and passenger Peter Roerig were killed.

The Earps and a posse tracked the men down and arrested Luther King, who confessed he had been holding the reins for Bill Leonard, Harry "The Kid" Head, and Jim Crane as the robbers. King was arrested and Sheriff Johnny Behan
Johnny Behan
John Harris Behan was from April, 1881 to November, 1882 sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona Territory. Behan was appointed the first sheriff of the newly-created county in February, 1881. The mining boomtown of Tombstone was the new county seat and Behan's headquarters...

 escorted him to jail, but somehow King walked in the front door and almost immediately out the back door.

During the hearing into the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt testified that he offered the USD$3,600 in Wells Fargo reward money ($1,200 per robber) to Ike Clanton and Frank McLaury in return for information about the identities of the three robbers. Wyatt testified that he had other motives for his plan as well: he hoped that arresting the murderers would boost his chances for election as Cochise County sheriff.

According to Earp, both Frank McLaury and Ike Clanton agreed to provide information to assist in their capture, but never had a chance to fulfill the agreement. All three cowboy suspects in the stage robbery were killed when attempting other robberies. Wyatt told the court at the hearing after the O.K. Corral shootout that he had taken the extra step of obtaining a second copy of a telegram for Ike from Wells Fargo assuring that the reward for capturing the killers applied either dead or alive. In his testimony at the court hearing, Clanton offered different testimony about the incident and accused Earp of leaking their deal to his brother Morgan or to Holliday. He said that Morgan Earp had asked him about whether he would make the agreement with Wyatt, and four or five days afterward Morgan confided in him that he and Wyatt had "piped off $1,400 to Doc Holliday and Bill Leonard" who were supposed to be on the stage the night Bud Philpot was killed. During his testimony, Clanton told the court "I was not going to have anything to do with helping to capture—" and then he corrected himself "—kill Bill Leonard, Crane and Harr." Ike Clanton denied having any knowledge of the telegram confirming the reward money.

Meanwhile, tensions between the Earps and the McLaurys increased with the holdup of another stage in the Tombstone area on September 8, this one a passenger stage in the Sandy Bob line, bound for nearby Bisbee. The masked robbers shook down the passengers and robbed the strongbox. They were recognized by their voices and language. They were identified as Pete Spence
Pete Spence
Pete Spence , suspected of robbery in 1878 in Goliad County, Texas, changed his name from Elliot Larkin Ferguson. He was later a suspect in a stagecoach robbery outside Bisbee, Arizona and was known for his association with outlaw Cowboys Frank and Tom McLaury and Ike and Billy Clanton of...

 (an alias for Elliot Larkin Ferguson) and Frank Stilwell
Frank Stilwell
Frank C. Stilwell was an outlaw Cowboy who murdered at least two men in Cochise County during 1877-1882. For four months he was a deputy sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona Territory for Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan...

, a business partner of Spence who had shortly before been fired as a deputy of Sheriff Behan's (for county tax "accounting irregularities"). Spence and Stilwell were friends of the McLaury brothers. Wyatt and Virgil Earp rode with the sheriff's posse attempting to track the Bisbee
Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, 82 miles southeast of Tucson. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 6,177...

 stage robbers, and Wyatt discovered an unusual boot heel print in the mud. They checked with a shoemaker in Bisbee and found a matching heel that he had just removed from Stilwell's boot. A further check of a Bisbee corral turned up both Spence and Stilwell. Stilwell and Spence were arrested by sheriff's deputies Breakenridge and Nagel for the stage robbery, and later by Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp on the federal offense of mail robbery.

Released on bail, Spence and Stilwell were re-arrested by Virgil for the Bisbee robbery a month later, October 13, on the new federal charge of interfering with a mail carrier. The newspapers, however, reported that they had been arrested for a different stage robbery that occurred (October 8) near Contention City
Contention City, Arizona
Contention City or Contention is a ghost mining town in Cochise County in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It was occupied from the early-1880s through the late-1880s in what was then known as the Arizona Territory...

. Occurring less than two weeks before the O.K. Corral shootout, this final incident may have been misunderstood by the McLaurys. While Wyatt and Virgil were still out of town for the Spence and Stilwell hearing, Frank McLaury confronted Morgan Earp, telling him that the McLaurys would kill the Earps if they tried to arrest Spence, Stilwell, or the McLaurys again.

Gunfight and aftermath



On Wednesday, October 26, 1881, the tension between the Earps and the Cowboys came to a head. Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, and other Cowboys had been threatening to kill the Earps for several weeks. Tombstone city Marshal Virgil Earp learned that the Cowboys were armed and had gathered near the O.K. Corral. He asked Wyatt and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday to assist him, as he intended to disarm them. Wyatt was acting as a temporary assistant marshal, Morgan was a Deputy City Marshall, and Virgil deputized Holliday for the occasion. At approximately 3:00 p.m. the Earps headed towards Fremont Street where the Cowboys had been reported gathering.

They confronted five Cowboys in a vacant lot adjacent to the O.K. Corral's rear entrance on Fremont street. The lot between the Harwood House and Fly's Boarding House and Photography Studio was narrow—the two parties were initially only about 6 to 10 ft (1.8 to 3 ) apart. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne fled the gunfight. Tom and Frank McLaury along with Billy Clanton were killed. Morgan was clipped by a shot across his back that nicked both shoulder blades and a vertebra. Virgil was shot through the calf and Holliday was grazed by a bullet.

From heroes to defendants


On October 30, Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Holliday. Justice Spicer convened a preliminary hearing
Preliminary hearing
Within some criminal justice systems, a preliminary hearing is a proceeding, after a criminal complaint has been filed by the prosecutor, to determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial...

 on October 31 to determine if there was enough evidence to go to trial. In an unusual proceeding, he took written and oral testimony from a number of witnesses over more than a month.

Sheriff Behan, testifying for the prosecution, said the Cowboys had not resisted but either thrown up their hands and turned out their coats to show they were not armed. He said that Tom McLaury threw open his coat to show that he was not armed and that the first two shots were fired by the Earp party. Sheriff Behan insisted Doc Holliday had fired first using a nickle-plated revolver when he had been seen carrying a messenger shotgun
Coach gun
A coach gun is a double-barrel shotgun, generally with barrels approximately 18" in length placed side by side . The name comes from the use of such shotguns on stagecoaches by shotgun messengers in the American Wild West and during the Colonial period of Australia.-History:The term "Coach gun"...

 immediately beforehand.

The Earps hired an experienced trial lawyer, Thomas Fitch
Thomas Fitch (politician)
Thomas Fitch was an American laywer and politician. He defended President Brigham Young of the Church of Latter-day Saints and other church leaders when Young and his denomination were prosecuted for polygamy in 1871 and 1872...

, as defense counsel. Wyatt testified that he drew his gun only after Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury went for their pistols. He detailed the Earps' previous troubles with the Clantons and McLaurys and explained that they intended to disarm the cowboys. He said they fired in self-defense. Fitch managed to produce testimony from prosecution witnesses during cross-examination that was contradictory and appeared to dodge his questions.

After extensive testimony, Justice Spicer ruled on November 30 that that there was not enough evidence to indict the men. He said the evidence indicated that the Earps and Holliday acted within the law and that Holliday and Wyatt had been deputized temporarily by Virgil. Even though the Earps and Holliday were free, their reputations had been tarnished. Supporters of the Cowboys in Tombstone looked upon the Earps as robbers and murderers and plotted revenge.

Cowboy revenge


On December 28, while walking between saloons on Allen Street in Tombstone, Virgil was ambushed and maimed by a shotgun round that struck his left arm and shoulder. Ike Clanton's hat was found in the back of the building across Allen Street from where the shots were fired. Wyatt wired U.S. Marshal Crawley Dake asking to be appointed deputy U.S. marshal with authority to select his own deputies. Dake granted the request in late January and provided the Earps with some funds he borrowed from Wells, Fargo & Co.
Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is an American multinational diversified financial services company with operations around the world. Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank in the U.S. by assets and the largest bank by market capitalization. Wells Fargo is the second largest bank in deposits, home...

 on behalf of the Earps, variously reported as $500 to $3,000.

In mid-January, when Earp ally Rickabaugh sold the Oriental Saloon to Earp adversary Milt Joyce, Wyatt sold his gambling concessions at the hotel. The Earps also raised some funds from sympathetic business owners in town. On February 2, 1882, Wyatt and Virgil, tired of the criticism leveled against them, submitted their resignations to Dake, who refused to accept them because their accounts had not been settled. On the same day, Wyatt sent a message to Ike Clanton that he wanted to reconcile their differences, which Clanton refused. Clanton was also acquitted that day of the charges against him in the shooting of Virgil Earp, when the defense brought in seven witnesses who testified that Clanton was in Charleston at the time of the shooting.

The Earps needed more funds to pay for the extra deputies and associated expenses. Contributions received from supportive business owners were not enough. On February 13, Wyatt mortgaged his home to lawyer James G. Howard for $365.00 (about $ today) and received $365.00 in U.S. gold coin. (He was never able to repay the loan and in 1884 Howard foreclosed on the house.)

After attending a theater show on March 18, Morgan Earp was assassinated by gunmen firing from a dark alley through a door window into room where he was playing billiards. Morgan was struck in the right side. The bullet shattered his spine, passed through his left side, and lodged in the thigh of George A.B. Berry. Another round narrowly missed Wyatt. A doctor was summoned and Morgan was moved from the floor to a nearby couch. The assassins escaped in the dark and Morgan died forty minutes later.

Wyatt Earp felt he could not rely on civil justice and decided to take matters into his own hands. He concluded that only way to deal with Morgan's murderers was to kill them.

Earp vendetta


The day after Morgan's murder, Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt, his brother James, Doc Holliday
Doc Holliday
John Henry "Doc" Holliday was an American gambler, gunfighter and dentist of the American Old West, who is usually remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral...

, and a few others that Wyatt deputized took Morgan's body to the railhead in Benson. They put Morgan's body on the train with James, who accompanied it to the family home in Colton, California
Colton, California
Colton is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States. The city is located in the Inland Empire region of the state and is approximately 57 miles east of Los Angeles. The population of Colton is 52,154 according to the 2010 census, up from 47,662 at the 2000 census.Colton is the...

, where Morgan's wife waited to bury him. They guarded Virgil and Addie through to Tucson, where they had heard Frank Stilwell and other Cowboys were waiting to kill Virgil. The next morning Frank Stilwell's body was found alongside the tracks riddled with buckshot and gunshot wounds. Wyatt and five others were accused of murdering him and Tucson Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 Charles Meyer issued warrants
Arrest warrant
An arrest warrant is a warrant issued by and on behalf of the state, which authorizes the arrest and detention of an individual.-Canada:Arrest warrants are issued by a judge or justice of the peace under the Criminal Code of Canada....

 for their arrest.

The Earp posse briefly returned to Tombstone where Sheriff Behan tried to stop them. The heavily armed posse brushed him aside and set out for Pete Spence's wood camp in the Dragoon Mountains
Dragoon Mountains
Dragoon Mountains are a range of mountains located in Cochise County, Arizona. The range is about 25 mi long, running on an axis extending south-south east through Willcox.- Geography :...

. They found and killed Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz. Two days later, near Iron Springs
Iron Springs (Cochise County, Arizona)
Iron Springs is historical name of a natural spring in the Whetstone Mountains of Arizona, now known as Mescal Springs.The site is known as that of the confrontation between Wyatt Earp and William Brocius on March 24, 1882...

 (later Mescal Springs), in the Whetstone Mountains
Whetstone Mountains
The Whetstone Mountains are a mountain range in southeastern Arizona. Major ranges in the region are part of sky island ranges called the Madrean Sky Islands. Part of the Coronado National Forest, the range is one of the least accessible areas...

, they were seeking to rendezvous with a messenger for them. They unexpectedly stumbled onto the wood camp of Curly Bill Brocius
William Brocius
William "Curly Bill" Brocius was a gunman, rustler and an outlaw Cowboy in the Cochise County area of Arizona Territory during the early 1880s. He had a number of conflicts with the lawmen of the Earp family, and he was named as one of the individuals who participated Morgan Earp's assassination....

, Pony Diehl
Pony Diehl
Charles "Pony" Diehl was an Old West outlaw who crossed paths and associated with some of the most famous western characters in American history. His origins are unknown, although he is believed to have been part Cherokee....

, and other Cowboys. According to reports from both sides, they two sides immediately exchanged gun fire. Except for Wyatt and Texas Jack Vermillion, whose horse was shot, the Earp party withdrew to find protection from the heavy gunfire. Curly Bill fired at Wyatt with a shotgun but missed. Eighteen months prior Wyatt had protected Curly Bill against a mob ready to lynch him and then provided testimony that helped spare Curly Bill from a murder trial for killing Sheriff Fred White. Now, Wyatt returned Curly Bill's gunfire with his own shotgun and shot Curly Bill in the chest from about 50 feet (15 m) away. Curly Bill fell into the water by the edge of the spring and died.

Wyatt received bullet holes in both sides of his long coat and another struck his boot heel. After emptying his shotgun, Wyatt fired his pistol, mortally wounding Johnny Barnes in the chest and wounded Milt Hicks in the arm. Vermillion tried to retrieve his rifle wedged in the scabbard under his fallen horse, exposing himself to the Cowboys' gunfire. Doc Holliday helped him gain cover. Wyatt had trouble remounting his horse because his cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 belt had slipped down his legs. He was finally able to get on his horse and with the rest of the posse retreated.

The Earp Party rode north to the Percy Ranch, but were not welcomed by Hugh and Jim Percy, who feared the Cowboys; after a meal and some rest, they left at about 3:00 a.m. in the morning of March 27. The Earp party slipped into the area near Tombstone and met with supporters, including "Charlie" Smith and Warren Earp. On March 27, the posse arrived at the Sierra Bonita ranch of Henry C. Hooker
Henry Hooker
Henry Clay Hooker was a prominent and wealthy rancher of the American Old West, and personal friend to lawman Wyatt Earp during the early 1880s.-Life:Henry Clay Hooker was born January 10, 1828 in Hinsdale, New Hampshire....

, a wealthy and prominent rancher. That night Dan Tipton caught the first stage out of Tombstone and headed for Benson, carrying $1,000 from mining owner and Earp supporter E.B. Gage for the posse. Hooker congratulated Earp on the murder of Curly Bill. Hooker fed them and Wyatt told him he wanted to buy new mounts, but Hooker refused to the take money. When Behan's posse was observed in the distance, Hooker suggested Wyatt make his stand there, but Wyatt moved into the hills about three miles (5 km) distant near Reilly Hill.

The Earp posse did not meet with the posse, led by Cochise County Sheriff John Behan, searching for the Earps, and in the middle of April 1882 the Earp party fled the Arizona territory, heading east into New Mexico Territory
New Mexico Territory
thumb|right|240px|Proposed boundaries for State of New Mexico, 1850The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of...

 and then into Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

.
The coroner reports credited the Earp party with killing four men in their two-week long ride. In 1888 Wyatt Earp gave an interview to California historian H. H. Bancroft during which he claimed to have killed "over a dozen stage robbers, murderers, and cattle thieves" in his time as a lawman.

Life after Tombstone


The gunfight in Tombstone lasted only 30 seconds, but it would end up defining Earp for the rest of his life. After Wyatt killed Frank Stilwell in Tucson, his movements received national press coverage and he became a known commodity in Western folklore.

After killing Curley Bill, the Earps left Arizona for Colorado. They stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...

, where they met Deputy U.S. Marshal Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

, Wyatt's friend. The Earps, Sherman McMasters, and Holliday rode with Masterson to Trinidad, Colorado
Trinidad, Colorado
The historic City of Trinidad is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Las Animas County, Colorado, United States...

 where Masterson owned a saloon. Wyatt dealt Faro for several weeks before he, Warren, Holliday, and several others rode on to Gunnison, Colorado
Gunnison, Colorado
The historic City of Gunnison, a Home Rule Municipality, is the county seat and the most populous city of Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,854. It was named in honor of John W...

.

Holliday headed to Pueblo
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

 and then Denver. The Earps and Texas Jack set up camp on the outskirts of Gunnison, Colorado
Gunnison, Colorado
The historic City of Gunnison, a Home Rule Municipality, is the county seat and the most populous city of Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,854. It was named in honor of John W...

, where they remained quietly at first, rarely going into town for supplies. Eventually, Wyatt took over a faro game at a local saloon.

After Morgan Earp
Morgan Earp
Morgan Seth Earp was the younger brother of Deputy U.S. Marshals Virgil and Wyatt Earp. Morgan was a deputy of Virgil's and all three men were the target of repeated death threats made by outlaw Cowboys who were upset by the Earps' interference in their illegal activities. This conflict eventually...

's assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

, Wyatt's former common-law wife, Celia Anne "Mattie" Blaylock
Mattie Blaylock
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about 8 years...

, waited for him in Colton but eventually accepted that Wyatt was not coming back. Wyatt left Mattie their house when he left Tombstone. She moved to Pinal City, Arizona
Pinal City, Arizona
Pinal or Pinal City is a ghost town in Pinal County in the U.S. state of Arizona. The town was populated from the 1870s into the 1890s, in what was then the Arizona Territory....

 and resumed life as a prostitute. Wyatt instead went to San Francisco and joined Josephine, Warren and Virgil in late 1882. Josie, or Sadie as he called her, was his common-law wife for the next forty-six years. Mattie struggled with her addictions and committed "suicide by opium poisoning" on July 3, 1888.

Dodge City War



On May 31, 1883, Earp returned along with Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

 to Dodge City to help Luke Short
Luke Short
Western frontiersman Luke L. Short was a noted gunfighter, who had worked as a farmer, cowboy, whiskey peddler, army scout, dispatch rider, gambler and saloon keeper at various times during the four decades of his life.- Early life :...

, part owner of the Long Branch saloon, during what became known as the Dodge City War
Dodge City War
The Dodge City War was a bloodless conflict that took place in 1883 in Dodge City, Kansas. It came at the close of the first 10 years of the city's history at a time when whiskey and saloons were fading as a dominant force in the city's politics....

. When the Mayor tried to run Luke Short
Luke Short
Western frontiersman Luke L. Short was a noted gunfighter, who had worked as a farmer, cowboy, whiskey peddler, army scout, dispatch rider, gambler and saloon keeper at various times during the four decades of his life.- Early life :...

 first 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
George Washington Glick
George Washington Glick was the ninth Governor of Kansas.George Washington Glick was raised on his father's farm near Greencastle, Ohio. He enlisted for service in the Mexican–American War, but saw no action. At age 21 he entered the law offices of Buckland and Hayes George Washington Glick (July...

 in Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

, Earp showed up with Johnny Millsap, Shotgun John Collins
Shotgun John Collins
Shotgun John Collins was a little known, though well associated, gunfighter of the Old West.- Biography :Born Abraham G. Graham, in Horry County, South Carolina, Collins was raised in an old plantation environment...

, Texas Jack Vermillion
Texas Jack Vermillion
John Wilson Vermillion , alias "Texas Jack" and later as "Shoot-Your-Eye-Out" Vermillion, was a gunfighter of the Old West known for his participation in the Earp vendetta ride and his later association with Soapy Smith.- Early life :...

, and Johnny Green. They marched up Front Street into Short's saloon where 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 refused to compromise. When Short returned, there was no force ready to turn him away. Short's Saloon reopened, and the Dodge City War ended without a shot being fired.

Idaho mining venture


Earp spent the next decade running saloons and gambling concessions and investing in mines in Colorado and Idaho, with stops in various boom towns. He also owned several saloons outright or in partnership with others.

In 1884, Wyatt and his wife Josie, Warren, James
James Earp
James Cooksey Earp was the little known older brother to old west lawman Virgil Earp and lawman/gambler Wyatt Earp. Unlike his lawmen brothers, he was a saloon-keeper and was not present at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral....

 and Bessie Earp were in Eagle, Idaho
Eagle, Idaho
Eagle is a city in Ada County, Idaho, United States. The population was 19,908 at the 2010 census. Due to growth in the Boise metropolitan area, Eagle has become increasingly suburban in recent years.-Geography:...

, another boom town. Wyatt was looking for gold in the Murray-Eagle mining district. They opened a saloon called The White Elephant in a circus tent. An advertisement in a local newspaper suggests gentlemen 'come and see the elephant'.

Earp was named sheriff of the newly incorporated Kootenai County, Idaho
Kootenai County, Idaho
Kootenai County is a county located in the U.S. state of Idaho. The county was established in 1864, named after Kootenai tribe. The entire county comprises the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 138,494 at the 2010 census...

. In Idaho Wyatt was involved in a brief shootout. On March 28, several feet of snow were still on the ground. Bill Buzzard, a miner of dubious reputation, began constructing a building when one of Wyatt's partners, Jack Enright, tried to stop the construction. Enright claimed the building was on part of his property. Words were exchanged and Buzzard reached for his Winchester. He fired several shots at Enright and a skirmish developed. Allies of both sides quickly took defensive positions between snowbanks and began shooting at one another. Kootanie County Deputy Sheriff Wyatt Earp and Shoshone County
Shoshone County, Idaho
Shoshone County is a county located in the U.S. state of Idaho. The county was established in 1864, named for the Native American Shoshone tribe. The population was 12,765 at the 2010 census. Shoshone County is commonly referred to as the Silver Valley, due to its century-old mining history...

 Deputy W. E. Hunt ended the fight.

In about April 1885, it was reported that Wyatt Earp used his badge to join a band of claim jumpers in Embry Camp, later renamed Chewelah, Washington
Chewelah, Washington
Chewelah is a city in Stevens County, Washington, United States. Chewelah was labeled Chiel-Charle-Mous on the 1897 U. S. Land Office Map. The population was 2,607 at the 2010 census which was a 19.3% increase over the 2000 census.-History:...

. Within six months their substantial stake had run dry, and the Earps left the Murray-Eagle district.

San Diego real estate boom


In 1885, Earp and Josie moved to San Diego
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

 where the railroad was about to arrive and a real estate boom was underway. They stayed for about four years. Earp speculated in San Diego's booming real estate market. Between 1887 and around 1896 he bought three saloons and gambling halls, one on Fourth Street and the other two near Sixth and E, all in the "respectable" part of town. They offered twenty-one games including faro
Faro (card game)
Faro, Pharaoh, or Farobank, is a late 17th century French gambling card game descendant of basset, and belongs to the lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games, in that it is played between a banker and several players winning or losing according to the cards turned up matching those already...

, blackjack
Blackjack
Blackjack, also known as Twenty-one or Vingt-et-un , is the most widely played casino banking game in the world...

, poker
Poker
Poker is a family of card games that share betting rules and usually hand rankings. Poker games differ in how the cards are dealt, how hands may be formed, whether the high or low hand wins the pot in a showdown , limits on bet sizes, and how many rounds of betting are allowed.In most modern poker...

, keno
Keno
Keno is a lottery or bingo gambling game often played at modern casinos, and is also offered as a game in some state lotteries. A traditional live casino keno game uses a circular glass enclosure called a "bubble" containing 80 balls which determine the ball draw result. Each ball is imprinted...

, and other Victorian
Victorian America
The Victorian Era is a name for the period from 1837 to 1901, the length of the rule of Britain's Queen Victoria. American Victorianism was an offshoot of this period and lifestyle that occurred in the United States, chiefly in heavily populated regions such as New England and the Deep South...

  games of chance like pedro and monte
Monte Bank
Monte Bank, Mountebank, Spanish Monte and Mexican Monte, sometimes just Monte, is a Spanish gambling card game and the national card game of Mexico. It ultimately derives from basset, where the banker pays on matching cards...

. At the height of the boom, he made up to $1,000 a night in profit. Wyatt particularly favored and may have run the Oyster Bar located in the Louis Bank of Commerce on Fifth Avenue. In 2003, the Oyster Bar saloon was converted into a restaurant by former San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock
Roger Hedgecock
Roger Allan Hedgecock is a conservative talk radio host and former mayor of San Diego, California. His show is syndicated by Radio America. Hedgecock still resides in San Diego...

 who opened Roger’s On Fifth. Wyatt had a long-standing interest in boxing and horse racing. In the 1887 San Diego City Directory he was listed as a capitalist or gambler. He won his first race horse "Otto Rex" and began investing in racehorses. He also judged prize fights on both sides of the border and raced horses. Earp was one of the judges at the County Fair horse races held in Escondido in 1889.

On July 3, 1888, Mattie Blaylock, who had always considered herself to be Wyatt's wife, committed suicide in Pinal, Arizona Territory, by taking an overdose of laudanum
Laudanum
Laudanum , also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight ....

.

Move to San Francisco


The Earps moved back to San Francisco in 1890 or 1893 so Josie could be closer to her family. Wyatt took a job managing a horse stable in Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, California, United States. The 2010 census reported a population of 167,815. Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's Wine Country and fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont and 26th...

. Earp developed a reputation as a sportsman as well as a gambler. He won his first race horse, Otto Rex, in a card game. He owned a six-horse stable in San Francisco. At Santa Rosa, Earp personally competed in and won a harness race. From 1890 to 1897, they lived at four different residences in the city: 145 Ellis St., 720 McAllister St., 514A Seventh Ave. and 1004 Golden Gate Ave. Josephine wrote in I Married Wyatt Earp
I Married Wyatt Earp
The book I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus, first published by the University of Arizona Press in 1976, was sold as a memoir of Josephine Earp, the widow of western Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. It was regarded for many years as a factual account that shed...

: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus
, that she and Wyatt were married in 1892 by the captain of multimillionaire Lucky Baldwin
Lucky Baldwin
Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin was a prominent California businessman and investor of the second half of the 19th century.-Biography:...

's yacht aboard his yacht. Raymond Nez wrote that his grandparents witnessed their marriage aboard a yacht off the California coast. Baldwin also owned the Santa Anita racetrack which Wyatt, a long-time lover of horseflesh, frequented when they were in Los Angeles.

During the summer of 1896, Earp began to write his memoirs with the help of John H. Flood, who he had hired as his secretary.

Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight referee


On December 2, 1896, Earp refereed a heavyweight boxing match at Mechanics' Pavilion in San Francisco between Bob Fitzsimmons
Bob Fitzsimmons
Robert James "Bob" Fitzsimmons , was a British boxer who made boxing history as the sport's first three-division world champion. He also achieved fame for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett, the man who beat John L. Sullivan, and is in The Guinness Book of World Records as the Lightest heavyweight...

 and Tom Sharkey
Tom Sharkey
Tom 'Sailor Tom' Sharkey was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey's recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights , 7 losses, and 5 draws...

. He had refereed 30 or so matches in earlier days, though not under the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Fitzsimmons was favored to win, and bets flowed heavily his way. Wyatt entered the ring still armed with his Colt .45 and had to be disarmed. He later said he forgot he was wearing it. Fitzsimmons carried the fight until the eighth round when Wyatt stopped the bout on a foul, ruling that Fitzsimmons had hit Sharkey when he was down. His ruling was greeted with loud boos and catcalls. Earp based his decision on the Marquis of Queensbury rules which state in part, "A man on one knee is considered down and if struck is entitled to the stakes." Very few witnessed the foul Earp ruled on. He awarded the decision to Sharkey, who attendants carried out as "limp as a rag."

Fitzsimmons obtained an injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

 against distributing the prize money until the courts could determine who the rightful winner was. The judge ruled that prize fighting was illegal in San Francisco and the courts would not determine who the real winner was. The decision provided no vindication for Earp and he soon left San Francisco for good. The San Francisco papers lampooned and scrutinized Wyatt for a full month, questioning his honesty. The San Francisco Call vilified him, calling him a crook and a cheat. Earp was accused of having a financial interest in the outcome.

Klondike Gold Rush



In the fall of 1897, Earp and Josie joined in the Alaska Gold Rush
Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike Gold Rush, also called the Yukon Gold Rush, the Alaska Gold Rush and the Last Great Gold Rush, was an attempt by an estimated 100,000 people to travel to the Klondike region the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1897 and 1899 in the hope of successfully prospecting for gold...

 and headed for Nome, Alaska. He operated a canteen during the summer of 1899 and in September, Earp and partner Charles E. Hoxie built the Dexter Saloon in Nome, Alaska
Nome, Alaska
Nome is a city in the Nome Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. According to the 2010 Census, the city population was 3,598. Nome was incorporated on April 9, 1901, and was once the...

, the city's first two story wooden building and its largest and most luxurious saloon. The building was used for a variety of purposes because it was so large: 70 by 30 ft (21.3 by 9.1 ) with 12 feet (3.7 m) ceilings.


While there, he rubbed elbows with Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

, future author Rex Beach
Rex Beach
Rex Ellingwood Beach was an American novelist, playwright, and Olympic water polo player.- Biography :...

, playwright Wilson Mizner
Wilson Mizner
Wilson Mizner was an American playwright, raconteur, and entrepreneur. His best-known plays are The Deep Purple, produced in 1910, and The Greyhound, produced in 1912...

, and Jack Dempsey’s future promoter Tex Rickard. Wyatt was arrested twice in Nome for minor offenses, including being drunk and disorderly, although he was not tried.

Return to California



Wyatt and Josie returned to California in 1901 with an estimated $80,000. In February, 1902, they arrived in Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah is a census-designated place located in and the county seat of Nye County, Nevada. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95 approximately mid-way between Las Vegas and Reno....

, where gold had been discovered and a boom was under way. He opened the Northern Saloon in Tonopah, Nevada and served as a deputy U.S. Marshal under Marshal J.F. Emmitt. His saloon, gambling and mining interests were profitable for a period.

After Tonapah's gold strike boom waned, Wyatt staked mining claims just outside Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

 and elsewhere in the Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert occupies a significant portion of southeastern California and smaller parts of central California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, in the United States...

. In 1906 he discovered several deposits of gold and copper near the Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and covers large parts of the U.S. states of Arizona and California and the northwest Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is one of the largest and hottest...

 town of Vidal, California
Vidal, California
Vidal, California is a small Unincorporated community located in southeastern California, in San Bernardino County on U.S. Route 95, north of Blythe, California and south of Needles. The town is west of the townsite of Earp, California and west of Parker, Arizona on State Highway 62. The town...

 on the Colorado River and filed more than 100 mining claims near the Whipple Mountains
Whipple Mountains
The Whipple Mountains, 'Avii Kur'utat in the Mojave language, are located in eastern San Bernardino County, California. They are directly west of the Colorado River, Parker Dam, and Lake Havasu; south of Needles, California; north of Parker, Arizona and Vidal, California; and northeast of Vidal...

. Wyatt and Josie Earp summered in Los Angeles and lived in at least nine small Los Angeles rentals as early as 1885 and as late as 1929, mostly in the summer. They bought a small cottage in Vidal and lived there during the fall, winter and spring months of 1925–1928, while he worked his "Happy Days" mines in the Whipple Mountains a few miles north. It was the only permanent residence they owned the entire time they were married. Wyatt had some modest success with the Happy Day Gold Mines and they lived on the slim proceeds of income from that and Kern County Oil.

In about 1910, at age 62, the Los Angeles police department hired Wyatt and former Los Angeles detective Arthur Moore King at $10.00 per day to carry out various tasks "outside the law" such as retrieving criminals from Mexico, which he did very capably. This led to Wyatt's final armed confrontation. In October, 1910 he was asked by former Los Angeles Police Commissioner H. L. Lewis to head up a posse to protect surveyors of the American Trona Company who were attempting to wrest control of mining claims for vast deposits of potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

 on the edge of Searles Lake
Searles Lake
Searles Lake is an endorheic dry lake in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, with the mining community, Trona on its western shore. The evaporite basin is approximately long and at its widest point, yielding 1.7 million tons annually of industrial minerals within the basin to...

 held in receivership by the foreclosed California Trona Company. Wyatt and the group he guarded were regarded as claim jumpers and were confronted by armed representatives of the other company. King wrote, "...that it was the nerviest thing he had ever seen." With guns pulled, Wyatt came out of his tent with a Winchester rifle
Winchester rifle
In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

, firing a round at the feet of Federal Receiver Stafford W. Austin. "Back off or I'll blow you apart, or my name is not Wyatt Earp". The owners summoned the U.S. Marshal who arrested Earp and 27 others, served them with a summons for Contempt
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

, and sent them home. Earp's actions did not resolve the dispute which eventually escalated into the "Pot Ash Wars" of the Mojave Desert.

Earp eventually moved to Hollywood and became an unpaid film consultant for several silent cowboy movies. He met several well-known and soon to be famous actors on the sets of various movies. On the set of one movie, he met Marion Morrison, who served Earp coffee on the sets. Later assuming the name John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

, he later told Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp .-Early years and career:...

 that he based his image of the Western lawman on his conversations with Earp. Director John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 worked as an apprentice on the studio lots about the time that Wyatt Earp used to visit friends on the set, and Ford later claimed he reconstructed the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral based on Wyatt's input. In the early 1920s, Earp was given the honorary title of Deputy Sheriff in San Bernardino County, California
San Bernardino County, California
San Bernardino County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,035,210, up from 1,709,434 as of the 2000 census...

.

Death



The last surviving Earp brother and the last surviving participant of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp died at home in the Earps' small apartment at 4004 W 17th Street, in Los Angeles, of chronic cystitis
Cystitis
Cystitis is a term that refers to urinary bladder inflammation that results from any one of a number of distinct syndromes. It is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection in which case it is referred to as a urinary tract infection.-Signs and symptoms:...

 (some sources cite prostate cancer
Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly...

) on January 13, 1929 at the age of 80. His pallbearers were prominent men: George W. Parsons
George W. Parsons
George Whitwell Parsons was a licensed attorney turned banker during the 19th century Old West. He is remembered due to his having kept an accurate diary of his days in the west, which gave detailed accounts of his interaction with Old West notables such as Wyatt Earp and "Curly Bill"...

, Charles Welch, Fred Dornberge, Los Angeles Examiner writer Jim Mitchell, Hollywood screenwriter Wilson Mizner
Wilson Mizner
Wilson Mizner was an American playwright, raconteur, and entrepreneur. His best-known plays are The Deep Purple, produced in 1910, and The Greyhound, produced in 1912...

, Earp's good friend from his days in Tombstone, John Clum
John Clum
John Philip Clum was an Indian agent for the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. He implemented a limited form of self-government on the reservation that was so successful that other reservations were closed and their residents moved to San Carlos. Clum later became the...

, and Western actors William S. Hart
William S. Hart
William Surrey Hart was an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is remembered for having "imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity."-Biography:...

 and Tom Mix
Tom Mix
Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but nine of which were silent features...

. Mitchell wrote Wyatt's obituary. The newspapers reported that Tom Mix cried during his friend's service. His wife Josie was too grief-stricken to attend. Josie had Earp's body cremated and buried Earp's ashes in the Marcus family plot at the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery (Josie was Jewish) in Colma, California
Colma, California
Colma is a small incorporated town in San Mateo County, California, at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 1,792 at the 2010 census. The town was founded as a necropolis in 1924....

.

Although it never was incorporated as a town, the settlement formerly known as Drennan located near the site of some of his mining claims was renamed Earp, California
Earp, California
Earp, California is an unincorporated townsite in San Bernardino County in the Sonoran Desert close to the California/Arizona state line at the Colorado River in Parker Valley....

 in his honor when the post office was established there in 1930.

When she died in 1944, Josie's ashes were buried next to Earp's. The original gravemarker was stolen on July 8, 1957 but was later recovered. Their gravesite is the most visited resting place in the Jewish cemetery.

Reputation


Wyatt Earp's modern-day reputation is that of Old West's
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 "toughest and deadliest gunmen of his day." He is "a cultural icon, a man of law and order, a mythic figure of a West where social control and order were notably absent." He has been portrayed in a number of film and books as a fearless Western hero.

Wyatt is often viewed as the central character and hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a roughly 30-second gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States. Outlaw Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight, unharmed, but Ike's brother...

, at least in part because of all of his brothers, he was the only one who was never wounded nor killed. In gunfight after gunfight, from Wichita to Dodge City, during Tombstone and the Earp Vendetta Ride
Earp vendetta ride
The Earp Vendetta Ride, lasting from March 20 to April 15, 1882, was a manhunt for outlaw Cowboys led by newly appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. He was searching for men he held responsible for maiming his brother Virgil, the Tombstone Marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal, and assassinating his...

, Wyatt was never scratched, although his clothing was shot through with bullet holes. According to Flood's biography, Wyatt vividly recalled a presence that in several instances warned him away or urged him to take action. This happened when he was on the street, alone in his room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, at Bob Hatch's Pool Hall, where he went moments before Morgan was murdered, and again when he approached Iron Springs and surprised Curly Bill Brocius, killing him.

Like his brothers, Wyatt Earp was a physically imposing figure for his day: 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, when most men were about 5 in 6 in (1.68 m). He weighed about 165 to 170 lb (74.8 to 77.1 ), was broad-shouldered, long-armed, and all muscle. He was very capable of using his fists instead of his weapon to control those resisting his authority, and was reputed to be an expert with a pistol. He showed no fear of any man. The Tombstone Epitaph said of Wyatt, "bravery and determination were requisites, and in every instance proved himself the right man in the right place."

Virgil Earp
Virgil Earp
Virgil Walter Earp fought in the Civil War. He was U.S. Deputy Marshal for south-eastern Arizona and Tombstone City Marshal at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the Arizona Territory. Two months after the shootout in Tombstone, outlaw Cowboys ambushed Virgil on the streets of...

 actually held the legal authority in Tombstone the day of the shoot out. Virgil was both Tombstone City Marshall and Deputy U.S. Marshal. Virgil had considerably more experience with weapons and combat as a Union soldier in the Civil War, and in law enforcement as a sheriff, constable, and marshal than did Wyatt. As city marshal, Virgil made the decision to disarm the Cowboys in Tombstone. Wyatt was only a temporary assistant marshal to his brother. But because Wyatt outlived Virgil and due to a creative biography written by Stuart Lake that made Wyatt famous, his name became well-known and the subject of many movies, TV shows, biographies and works of fiction.

Contemporary descriptions


Public perception of his life has varied over the years as media accounts of his life have changed. The story of the Earps' actions in Tombstone were published by newspapers nationwide. When citizens of Dodge City learned the Earps had been charged with murder after the gunfight, they sent letters endorsing and supporting them to Judge Wells Spicer.

Among his peers, Wyatt was respected. His deputy Jimmy Cairns described Wyatt's work as a police officer in Wichita, Kansas. "Wyatt Earp was a wonderful officer. He was game to the last ditch and apparently afraid of nothing. The cowmen all respected him and seemed to recognize his superiority and authority at such times as he had to use it." He described Wyatt as "the most dependable man I ever knew; a quiet, unassuming chap who never drank and in all respects a clean young fellow."

John Clum
John Clum
John Philip Clum was an Indian agent for the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. He implemented a limited form of self-government on the reservation that was so successful that other reservations were closed and their residents moved to San Carlos. Clum later became the...

, owner of The Tombstone Epitaph and mayor of Tombstone while Wyatt was a gambler and lawman there, described him in his book It All Happened in Tombstone.
Bill Dixon
Billy Dixon
William "Billy" Dixon scouted the Texas Panhandle for the Army, hunted buffalo for the train companies, defended the Adobe Walls settlement against Indian attack with his legendary buffalo rifle, and was one of eight civilians in the history of the U.S...

 knew Wyatt early in his adult life. He wrote:
Famous lawman Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

 described Wyatt in 1907.

Later image


After the shootout in Tombstone, his pursuit and murder of those who attacked his brothers, and after leaving Arizona, Wyatt was often in doubt about the public's perception of his and his brothers' reputation. His role in history has stimulated considerable ongoing scholarly and editorial debate. A large body of literature has been written about Wyatt Earp and his legacy, some of it highly fictionalized. Considerable portions of it are either full of admiration and flattery or hostile debunking.

Wyatt was repeatedly criticized in the media over the remainder of his life. His wife Sadie
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was an American part time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise...

 wrote, "The falsehoods that were printed in some of the newspapers about him and the unjust accusations against him hurt Wyatt more deeply than anything that ever happened to him during my life with the him, with the exception of his mother's death and that of his father and brother, Warren."

On April 16, 1894, the Fort Worth Gazette wrote that Virgil Earp and John Behan had a "deadly feud." It described Behan as "an honest man, a good official, and possessed many of the attributes of a gentleman." Earp, on the other hand, "was head of band of desperadoes, a partner in stage robbers, and a friend of gamblers and professional killers... Wyatt was the boss killer of the region."

His handling of the Tom Sharkey
Tom Sharkey
Tom 'Sailor Tom' Sharkey was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey's recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights , 7 losses, and 5 draws...

 – Bob Fitzsimmons
Bob Fitzsimmons
Robert James "Bob" Fitzsimmons , was a British boxer who made boxing history as the sport's first three-division world champion. He also achieved fame for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett, the man who beat John L. Sullivan, and is in The Guinness Book of World Records as the Lightest heavyweight...

 boxing match in San Francisco on December 2, 1896 left a smear on his character. In late 1899, Wyatt opened a gambling concession in Seattle, Washington. On November 25, the local paper, the Seattle Star
Seattle Star
The Seattle Star was a daily newspaper that ran from February 25, 1899, to August 13, 1947. It was owned by E.W. Scripps and in 1920 was transferred to Scripps McRae League of Newspapers , after a falling-out within the Scripps family...

, described him as "a man of great reputation among the toughs and criminals, inasmuch as he formerly walked the streets of a rough frontier mining town with big pistols stuck in his belt, spurs on his boots and a devil-may-care expression upon his official face." The Seattle Daily Times was less full of praise, announcing in a very small article that he had a reputation in Arizona as a "bad man."
On March 12, 1922, the Sunday Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

ran a scandalous article by J.M. Scanland about Wyatt's life as a lawman. During the same year, Frederick R. Bechdolt published When the West Was Young, a story about Wyatt's time in Tombstone, but he mangled many basic facts. He described the Earp-Clanton differences as the falling out of partners in crime. Both of these reports bothered Wyatt a great deal, but he remained stalwart. In 1924, a story in a San Francisco paper said interviewing him was "like pulling teeth". Earp didn't trust the press and he preferred to keep his mouth shut.

Flood biography


Expressing his dismay about the controversy that followed him his entire life, he wrote in a letter to John Hays Hammond on May 21, 1925, saying "notoriety had been the bane of my life." But Earp told his biographer White in 1926, "For my handling of the situation at Tombstone, I have no regrets. Were it to be done over again, I would do exactly as I did at that time. If the outlaws and their friends and allies imagined that they could intimidate or exterminate the Earps by a process of assassination, and then hide behind alibis and the technicalities of the law, they simply missed their guess."

Finally attempting to counter the negative reporting, Earp tried to persuade Hart to make a movie about his life, feeling he had been unfairly depicted in the media. One of Earp's friends in Hollywood was William S. Hart
William S. Hart
William Surrey Hart was an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is remembered for having "imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity."-Biography:...

, a well-known cowboy movie
Western (genre)
The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of...

 star of his time. “If the story were exploited on the screen by you,” he wrote Hart, “it would do much toward setting me right before a public which has always been fed lies about me.” Hart encouraged Wyatt to find an author to pen his story. Wyatt worked with John Flood to get his life committed to paper.

In February 1926, Hart encouraged The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.-History:...

to publish John Flood's biography so "that ... the rising generation may know the real from the unreal.", but Flood was a horrendous writer and publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript.

Burns' tale of blood and thunder


Author Walter Noble Burns visited Earp in September 1926 and asked Wyatt questions for the book he was writing about Doc Holliday. Wyatt told him he was working on his own book and turned him away. Burns visited Tombstone and based on what he learned about Wyatt decided instead to focus his book on him. He pestered Wyatt for facts, and on March 27 the next year, Wyatt finally responded to Burn's repeated requests in an 11 page letter outlining the basic facts from Earp's point of view.

When their efforts to get the Flood manuscript published failed, the Earps decided to appeal to Burns, whose own book was near publication. Burns responded and told them, “I should not now care to undertake another book which, in part at least, would be upon much the same lines... I should have been delighted six months ago to accept your offer but it is too late now. My book has championed Mr. Earp’s cause throughout and I believe will vindicate his reputation in Tombstone in a way that he will like." When Burns turned them down, Josephine actively worked to stop the publication of his book, fearful that their efforts to publish Wyatt's biography would be thwarted as a result.

In February 1927, Bobbs Merrill editor Anne Johnston wrote a painfully direct criticism of Flood's writing. She said the language was "stilted, florid and diffuse." She said, "Now one forgets what it's all about in the clutter of unimportant details that impedes its pace, and the pompous manner of its telling." Earp, Hart and Flood finally decided to turn to Burns. But he was not interested. His book was about to be published free of the constraints imposed by a collaboration with Earp.

In late 1927, Burns published Tombstone, An Iliad of the Southwest, a mesmerizing tale "of blood and thunder", that christened Earp as the "Lion of Tombstone.". Readers and reviewers found they had a difficult time discerning between "fact and fiction." One reader notes, "Walter Noble Burns would become famous as one of the first authors to paint Wyatt Earp as the hero in white who saved Tombstone."

Lake's flattering biography


In contrast, author Stuart N. Lake wrote that the Earps stood for law and order. Earlier in life Lake had been a professional wrestling promoter, a press aide to Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 during the Bull Moose
Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
The Progressive Party of 1912 was an American political party. It was formed after a split in the Republican Party between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt....

 campaign, and had been run over by a truck during World War I. Sadie and before he died, Wyatt went to great lengths to keep Josephine's name out of Lake's book and Sadie may have threatened litigation to keep it that way. After Earp died, Lake corresponded with Josephine Earp
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was an American part time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise...

, his widow, who he claimed attempted to influence what he wrote and hamper him in every way possible, including consulting lawyers. Josephine insisted she was striving to protect Wyatt Earp’s legacy.

Lake finally published the first biography of Earp, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal in 1931, two years after Earp's death. It portrayed Earp as a hero wherever he went and entirely avoided mentioning Josephine Earp. It drew considerable attention and established Lake as a writer for years to come. Lake sought Earp out, hoping to write a magazine article about him. Earp was seeking a biographer at about the same time. Lake wrote that the lawmen justifiably arrested some of the Cowboys, and when they resisted, fought the outlaws to a final finish.

However, later researchers have suggested that Lake's account of Earp's early life is embellished, for there is little corroborating evidence for many of his stories. Scholars and historians like Steve Gatto, Frank Waters, and Dr. Floyd B. Streeter
Floyd Benjamin Streeter
Floyd Benjamin Streeter was an American historian and writer best known for his biography of Ben Thompson.Floyd Benjamin Streeter was a historian and librarian of Hays City Kansas State College . Streeter wrote a number of books on topics related to the Old West...

 have cast doubt on the authenticity and accuracy of Lake's larger-than-life depiction of Wyatt Earp. Lake and Earp only met a few times, during which Earp sketched out the "barest facts" of his life for Lake.

Lake later told Burton Rascoe
Burton Rascoe
Arthur Burton Rascoe , was an American journalist, editor and literary critic of the New York Herald Tribune....

 of the New York Herald Tribune
New York Herald Tribune
The New York Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald.Other predecessors, which had earlier merged into the New York Tribune, included the original The New Yorker newsweekly , and the Whig Party's Log Cabin.The paper was home to...

that during his interviews Earp had been "inarticulate," that "in speech, he was at best monosyllabic." Lake told Frank Waters, author of The Earp Brothers of Tombstone, that Wyatt had not dictated a word of his book, never saw the edited manuscript, and died two years before the book was published. Lake admitted many years afterward that he fabricated quotes and more when he wrote the book. He said he felt "journalistically justified in inventing the Earp manuscript."

The book transformed Wyatt into a celluloid hero at a time during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 when the media hungered for heroes. It is regarded today as largely fictional.

Influence on media


Lake's creative biography and later Hollywood portrayals exaggerated Wyatt's profile as a western lawman. Lake wrote another version of Wyatt's story in 1946 that Director John Ford developed into the movie My Darling Clementine
My Darling Clementine
My Darling Clementine is a 1946 western movie. It was directed by John Ford, and based on the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang. It features an ensemble cast including Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, and others.The movie...

, which further boosted Wyatt's reputation. The book later inspired a number of stories, movies and television programs about outlaws and lawmen in Dodge City and Tombstone, including the 1955 television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is a Western television series loosely based on the adventures of frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. The half-hour black and white series ran on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1961 and featured Hugh O'Brian as Earp. An off-camera barbershop quartet sang the theme song and hummed...

.

"Buntline Special"


One of the legends about Earp perpetrated by Lake was about a long-barreled revolver called the "Buntline Special
Colt Buntline
The Colt Buntline Special is a variant of long-barreled Colt Single Action Army revolver that author Stuart N. Lake created while writing his 1931 biography of Wyatt Earp. According to Lake's biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal published in 1931, dime novelist Ned Buntline had five Buntline...

", a Colt six-shooter with a 12-inch barrel. Earp was described by Lake as using this weapon to pistol-whip and disarm cowboys who resisted town ordinances against carrying of firearms. Earp’s biography claimed the Specials were given to "famous lawmen" Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

, Bill Tilghman
Bill Tilghman
William Matthew "Bill" Tilghman was a lawman in the American Old West.-Early life :Bill Tilghman was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on July 4, 1854. He became a buffalo hunter at age 15 and claimed he killed over 1000 bison over his five years of activity...

, Charlie Bassett and Neal Brown by author Ned Buntline in return for “local color” for his western yarns. This may be inaccurate since neither Tilghman nor Brown were lawmen then. There is no conclusive proof as to the kind of pistol Wyatt carried on a regular basis, although it is known that on the day of the Fight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881, Earp used a .44 caliber 1869 American
.44 S&W American
The .44 S&W American is an American centerfire revolver cartridge.Used in the Smith & Wesson Model 3, it was introduced around 1869. Between 1871 and 1873, the .44 Model 3 was used as the standard United States Army sidearm. It was also offered in the Merwin Hulbert & Co...

 model Smith & Wesson with an 8 inch barrel. Earp had received the weapon as a gift from Tombstone mayor and Tombstone Epitaph
Tombstone Epitaph
The Tombstone Epitaph is a Tombstone, Arizona-based monthly publication that serves as a window in the history and culture of the Old West. Founded on May 1, 1880, The Epitaph is the oldest continually published newspaper in Arizona.-History:...

newspaper editor John Clum
John Clum
John Philip Clum was an Indian agent for the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in the Arizona Territory. He implemented a limited form of self-government on the reservation that was so successful that other reservations were closed and their residents moved to San Carlos. Clum later became the...

.

Lake spent much effort trying to track down the Buntline Special through the Colt company, Masterson and contacts in Alaska. Lake described it as a Colt Single Action Army
Colt Single Action Army
The Colt Single Action Army is a single action revolver with a revolving cylinder holding six metallic cartridges. It was designed for the U.S...

 model with a long, 12 inches (30.5 cm) barrel, standard sights, and wooden grips into which the name “Ned” was ornately carved. Researchers have never found any record of an order received by the Colt company, and Ned Buntline's alleged connections to the Earps have been discredited.

Although historians such as William B. Shillingberg maintain that the Buntline was a fabrication by Lake; the revolver could have been specially ordered from the Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut. Several revolvers with 16-inch barrels were displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and over-long barrels were available from Colt at a dollar an inch over 7.5 inches (19.1 cm). There are no company records for the Buntline Special nor a record of any orders from or sent to Ned Buntline but this does not preclude the historicity of the revolvers. Massad Ayoob
Massad Ayoob
Massad F. Ayoob is an internationally known firearms and self-defense instructor. He has taught police techniques and civilian self-defense to both law enforcement officers and private citizens in numerous venues since 1974...

 writing for Guns Magazine cited notes by Josie Earp in which she mentioned an extra-long revolver as a favorite of Wyatt Earp. Ayoob cited an order by Tombstone, Arizona, bartender Buckskin Frank Leslie for a revolver of near-identical description. This order predated the O.K. Corral fight by several months.

Dubious claims by Wyatt


Wyatt's reputation has been confused by inaccurate, conflicting, and false stories told about him by others, and by his own claims that cannot be corroborated. For example, in an interview with a reporter in Denver in 1896, he denied that he had killed Johnny Ringo
Johnny Ringo
John Peters "Johnny" Ringo was an outlaw Cowboy of the American Old West who was affiliated with Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell in Cochise County, Arizona Territory during 1881-1882.-Early life:...

. He then flipped his story, claiming he had killed Ringo. In about 1918 he told Forrestine Hooker, who wrote an unpublished manuscript, and then Frank Lockwood, who wrote Pioneer Days in Arizona in 1932, that he was the one who killed Johnny Ringo
Johnny Ringo
John Peters "Johnny" Ringo was an outlaw Cowboy of the American Old West who was affiliated with Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell in Cochise County, Arizona Territory during 1881-1882.-Early life:...

 as he left Arizona in 1882. However, Wyatt included details that do not match what is known about Ringo's death. Wyatt repeated that claim to at least three other people.

During an interview with his future biographer Stuart Lake during the late 1920s, Wyatt said that he arrested notorious gunslinger Ben Thompson
Ben Thompson
Ben Thompson was a gunman, gambler, and sometime lawman of the Old West. He was a contemporary of Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday, John Wesley Hardin and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock, some of whom considered him a trusted friend, others an enemy.Ben Thompson had a colorful career,...

 in Ellsworth, Kansas
Ellsworth, Kansas
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Ellsworth County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 3,120.-19th century:...

, on August 15, 1873, when news accounts and Thompson's own contemporary account about the episode do not mention his presence. He also told Lake that he had hunted buffalo during 1871 and 1872, yet arrest records show he was arrested and jailed on a horse theft charge on April 6, 1871, and arrested in Peoria during February 1872.

At the hearing following the Tombstone shootout, Wyatt said he had been marshal in Dodge City, a claim he repeated in an August 16, 1896, interview that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner. But Wyatt had only been an assistant city marshal there.

In the same interview, Wyatt claimed that George Hoyt had intended to kill him. He also said he and Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson
William Barclay "Bat" Masterson was a figure of the American Old West known as a buffalo hunter, U.S. Marshal and Army scout, avid fisherman, gambler, frontier lawman, and sports editor and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph...

 had confronted Clay Allison
Clay Allison
Clay Allison was a Texas cattle rancher and gunfighter. He is one of the best known historic figures of the American Old West.-Early life:...

 when he was sent to Dodge City to finish George Hoyt's job, saying that they had forced him to back down. Two other accounts contradicted Earp, crediting cattleman Dick McNulty and Long Branch Saloon
Long Branch Saloon
The Long Branch Saloon is a famous saloon that existed during the Old West days of Dodge City, Kansas. It had numerous owners, most notably Chalk Beeson and gunfighter Luke Short...

 owner Chalk Beeson
Chalkley Beeson
Chalkley McArtor "Chalk" Beeson was a well known businessman, lawman, cattleman, saloon owner, manager and keeper of the Old West, best known as being one of the many owners of the famous Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas.-Biography:Originally from Salem, Ohio, Beeson was the seventh born...

 with convincing Allison and his cowboys to surrender their guns. Cowboy Charlie Siringo
Charlie Siringo
Charles Angelo Siringo , was an American lawman, detective, and agent for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency during the late 19th century and early 20th century.-Early life:...

 witnessed the incident and left a written account.

I Married Wyatt Earp controversy


One of the most well known and for many years respected books about Wyatt Earp was I Married Wyatt Earp
I Married Wyatt Earp
The book I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus, first published by the University of Arizona Press in 1976, was sold as a memoir of Josephine Earp, the widow of western Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. It was regarded for many years as a factual account that shed...

, originally credited as a factual memoir
Memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

 by Josephine Marcus Earp
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was an American part time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise...

. Published in 1976, it was edited by amateur historian Glen Boyer, and published by the University of Arizona Press. It was immensely popular for many years, capturing the imagination of people with an interest in western history, studied in classrooms, cited by scholars, and relied upon as factual by filmmakers.

In 1998, writer Tony Ortega wrote a lengthy investigative article for the Phoenix New Times during which he interviewed Boyer. Boyer said that he is uninterested in what others think of the accuracy of what he has written. "This is an artistic effort. I don't have to adhere to the kind of jacket that these people are putting on me. I am not a historian. I'm a storyteller." Boyer admitted that the book is "100 percent Boyer." He said the book was not really a first-person account, that he had interpreted Wyatt Earp in Josephine's voice, and admitted that he couldn't produce any documents to vindicate his methods.

The book also "further embroidered upon Frank Waters's imagining about Wyatt's adulterous affair with her." Boyer and the University Press' credibility was severely damaged. In 2000 the University referred all questions to university lawyers who investigated some of the allegations about Boyer's work. Later that year the Press removed the book from their catalog. The book has been discredited as a fraud and a hoax that cannot be relied on.

Other work by Boyer subsequently were questioned. His book Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta, published in 1993, was allegedly based an account written by a previously unknown Tombstone journalist that Boyer named "Theodore Ten Eyck," but whose identity could not be independently verified. Boyer claimed that the manuscript was "clearly authentic" and that it contained "fascinating revelations (if they are true) and would make an ace movie." Boyer later said the character was in fact a blend of "scores of accounts," but could not provide any sources.

Negative views


William M. Breakenridge
Billy Breakenridge
William Milton "Billy" Breakenridge was an American lawman, teamster, railroader, soldier and author. He was assistant Tombstone City Marshal in the Arizona Territory when the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place....

's book, Helldorado: Bringing Law to the Mesquite, ghost written by Western novelist William MacLeod Raine
William MacLeod Raine
William MacLeod Raine , was a British-born American novelist who wrote fictional adventure stories about the American Old West.-Life:William MacLeod Raine was born in London, the son of William and Jessie Raine...

, was published in 1928 before Wyatt died. Wyatt and his wife Josie
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was an American part time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise...

 claimed that much of what Breakenridge wrote was biased and more fiction than fact. Breakenridge interviewed Earp in Los Angeles but the picture he painted of Wyatt was that of a thief, pimp, crooked gambler, and murderer. Earp loudly protested the book's contents until his death in 1929, and his wife continued in the same vein afterward. One critic writes that, "Breakenridge was insanely jealous of the notoriety Wyatt Earp had received and he made it very clear on more than one occasion that he thoroughly disliked the Earps." Breakenridge referred to the Clantons and McLaury brothers as "cowboys" and said the Earps and Doc Holliday aggressively mistreated the guiltless cowboys until they were forced into a fatal confrontation.

Edwin V. Burkholder, who specialized in stories about the Old West, published an article about Wyatt in 1955 in Argosy Magazine. He pronounced Wyatt Earp to be a coward and a murderer. He even manufactured evidence to support his outrageous allegations. He also wrote, using the pseudonyms "George Carleton Mays" and "J. S. Qualey", for the Western magazine Real West. His stores were filled with sensational claims about Wyatt Earp's villainy, and he made up fake letters to the editor from supposed "old-timers" to corroborate this story.

Frank Waters
Frank Waters
Frank Waters was an American writer. He is known for his novels and historical works about the American Southwest...

 interviewed Virgil Earp's widow, Allie Sullivan Earp, to write The Earp Brothers of Tombstone. Waters used her anecdotes as a frame for adding a narrative and "building a case, essentially piling quote upon quote to prove that Wyatt Earp was a con man, thief, robber, and eventually murderer." Allie Earp was so upset by the way he distorted and manipulated her words that she threatened to shoot him. So he waited until 1960, 13 years after her death, to publish the book. It was described by one reviewer as "a smear campaign levied against the Earp brothers."

SJ Reidhead, author of Travesty: Frank Waters Earp Agenda Exposed, spent nearly a decade searching for the original manuscript, researching Waters, his background, and his bias against the Earps. In doing so, the author discovered that the story Waters presented against the Earps was primarily fictitious. Nothing is documented. There are no notes nor sourcing. There is only the original Tombstone Travesty manuscript and the final Earp Brothers of Tombstone. Because of his later reputation, few writers, even today, dare question Waters' motives. They also do not bother fact checking the Earp Brothers of Tombstone, which is so inaccurate it should be considered fiction, rather than fact.

Anti-Earp writers and researchers use Frank Waters' Earp Brothers of Tombstone, as their primary source for material that presents Wyatt Earp as something of a villainous monster, aided and abetted by his brothers who were almost brutes. Waters detested the Earps so badly that he presented a book that was terribly flawed, poorly edited, and brimming with prevarications. In his other work, Waters is poetic. In the Earp Brothers of Tombstone, he is little more than a tabloid hack, trying to slander someone he dislikes.

To date, no reason has yet to be uncovered for the extreme bias Frank Waters exhibited against Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

In 1963, Ed Bartholomew published Wyatt Earp, The Untold Story followed by Wyatt Earp: Man and Myth in 1964. His books were obviously anti-Earp and were intended to destroy Wyatt Earp's image as a hero. Bartholomew went about this by reciting snippets of accumulated anti-Earp facts, rumors, gossip, and innuendo piled on top of one another. Bartholomew's books set in place a trend debunking Earp, and the academic community followed his lead, pursuing the image of Earp as a "fighting pimp".

In reviewing Allen Barra's Inventing Wyatt Earp. His Life and Many Legends, William Urban, a Professor of History at Monmouth College
Monmouth College
Monmouth College is a four-year coeducational private liberal arts college located in Monmouth, Illinois, United States.-History:Monmouth College was founded on April 18, 1853 by the Second Presbytery of Illinois, a frontier arm of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church...

 in Warren County, Illinois
Warren County, Illinois
-External links:**...

, pointed out a number of factual inaccuracies in the book. Another inconsistency in Barra pointed out by another reviewer include a description of the poker game the night before the shoot out. Ike Clanton's account of the game (the only one that exists) gives the participants as John Behan, Virgil Earp, Ike Clanton, Tom McLaury, and a fifth man Ike didn't recognize. Barra is criticized for adding Doc Holliday as the game's winner, although this is possibly done as a joke, since Barra also notes Wyatt and Doc have gone home for the night, before the game.

Willian Urban also describes "the questionable scholarship of Glenn Boyer, the dominant figure in Earpiana for the past several decades, who has apparently invented a manuscript and then cited it as a major source in his publications. This does not surprise this reviewer, who has personal experience with Boyer’s pretentious exaggeration of his acquaintance with Warren County records."

Legacy


The character of Wyatt Earp has been a central figure in at least 10 films and a secondary figure in many others. Among the best-known actors that have portrayed him are Randolph Scott
Randolph Scott
Randolph Scott was an American film actor whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962. As a leading man for all but the first three years of his cinematic career, Scott appeared in a variety of genres, including social dramas, crime dramas, comedies, musicals , adventure tales, war films, and even a few...

, Guy Madison
Guy Madison
Guy Madison was an American film and television actor.-Early life:Born Robert Ozell Moseley in Pumpkin Center, California, Madison attended Bakersfield College, a junior college, for two years and then worked briefly as a telephone lineman before joining the United States Coast Guard in...

, Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

, Joel McCrea
Joel McCrea
Joel Albert McCrea was an American actor whose career spanned 50 years and appearances in over 90 films.-Early life:...

, Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

, James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

, Jimmy Stewart
James Stewart
James Stewart was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart may also refer to:-Noblemen:*James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland*James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn James Stewart (1908–1997) was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart...

, Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp .-Early years and career:...

, Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner
Kevin Michael Costner is an American actor, singer, musician, producer, director, and businessman. He has been nominated for three BAFTA Awards, won two Academy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. Costner's roles include Lt. John J...

, and Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell
Kurt Vogel Russell is an American television and film actor. His first acting roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters...

. His character has influenced the way in which many others are presented as well as how law enforcement in the Old West is depicted on the screen.

Earp's life gained nationwide attention with the publication of Stuart Lake's book, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall. But it was the popular movie Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that cemented his actions and character in popular consciousness. The movie and accompanying mythologizing altered the way the public thought of cowboys. In Earp's time, they had been the outlaws. In the movies, they became the good guys, always ready to assist the lawmen in arresting the outlaws.

With the widespread sales of television sets after World War II, producers spun out a large number of western-oriented shows. At the height of their popularity in 1959, there were more than two dozen "cowboy" programs on each week. At least six of them were directly or indirectly connected with Wyatt Earp: The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is a Western television series loosely based on the adventures of frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. The half-hour black and white series ran on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1961 and featured Hugh O'Brian as Earp. An off-camera barbershop quartet sang the theme song and hummed...

, Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson (TV series)
Bat Masterson is an American Western television series which showed a fictionalized account of the life of real-life marshal/gambler/dandy Bat Masterson. The title character was played by Gene Barry and the half-hour black and white shows ran on NBC from 1958 to 1961...

, Tombstone Territory
Tombstone Territory
Tombstone Territory is an American Western series starring Pat Conway and Richard Eastham. The series' first two seasons aired on ABC from 1957 to 1959...

. Broken Arrow
Broken Arrow (TV series)
Broken Arrow is a Western series which ran on ABC-TV in prime time from 1956 through 1958 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Repeat episodes were shown by ABC on Sunday afternoons during the 1959–60 season...

, Johnny Ringo
Johnny Ringo (TV series)
Johnny Ringo is a Western television series starring Don Durant that aired on CBS from October 1, 1959, until June 30, 1960. It was loosely based on the life of the notorious gunfighter Johnny Ringo, who tangled with Wyatt Earp, John "Doc" Holliday, and "Buckskin" Franklin Leslie.This fictional...

, and Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West....

. Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian
Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp .-Early years and career:...

 portrayed Earp on the namesake show, Wyatt Earp, which ran for six seasons.

The Earp legend in film and television

  • Frontier Marshal
    Frontier Marshal (1934 film)
    Frontier Marshal is a 1934 western film directed by Lewis Seiler. Produced by Fox Film and Sol M. Wurtzel, the film is the first based on Stuart N. Lake's enormously popular but largely fictitious "biography" of Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal...

    (1934) – The first film adaptation of Stuart N. Lake's novel. George O'Brien plays "Michael Earp".
  • Frontier Marshal
    Frontier Marshal (1939 film)
    Frontier Marshal is a 1939 western film starring Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp. It is the second film produced by Sol M. Wurtzel based on Stuart N. Lake's highly fictionalized account of Earp, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. An earlier version was Wurtzel's Frontier Marshal, filmed in 1934...

    (1939) – Randolph Scott
    Randolph Scott
    Randolph Scott was an American film actor whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962. As a leading man for all but the first three years of his cinematic career, Scott appeared in a variety of genres, including social dramas, crime dramas, comedies, musicals , adventure tales, war films, and even a few...

     as Wyatt Earp
  • Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die
    Tombstone, the Town Too Tough to Die
    Tombstone: The Town Too Tough to Die is a Western film released in 1942, starring Richard Dix and Kent Taylor, and directed by William McGann.-Plot:...

    (1942) – Stars Richard Dix
    Richard Dix
    Richard Dix was an American motion picture actor who achieved popularity in both silent and sound film. His standard on-screen image was that of the rugged and stalwart hero.-Early life:...

  • My Darling Clementine
    My Darling Clementine
    My Darling Clementine is a 1946 western movie. It was directed by John Ford, and based on the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang. It features an ensemble cast including Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, and others.The movie...

    (1946) – Stars Henry Fonda
    Henry Fonda
    Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

     and directed by John Ford
    John Ford
    John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

    .
  • Wichita (1955) – Stars Joel McCrea
    Joel McCrea
    Joel Albert McCrea was an American actor whose career spanned 50 years and appearances in over 90 films.-Early life:...

    .
  • The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
    The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
    The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is a Western television series loosely based on the adventures of frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. The half-hour black and white series ran on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1961 and featured Hugh O'Brian as Earp. An off-camera barbershop quartet sang the theme song and hummed...

    TV series (1955–1961) – Starring Hugh O'Brian
    Hugh O'Brian
    Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp .-Early years and career:...

     as Wyatt Earp.
  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957 film)
    The film was based on a real event which took place on October 26, 1881. It was directed by John Sturges and featuring a screenplay written by novelist Leon Uris, and the movie's supporting cast included Rhonda Fleming, John Ireland, Jo Van Fleet, Martin Milner, Dennis Hopper, Jack Elam, Lee Van...

    (1957) – Stars Burt Lancaster
    Burt Lancaster
    Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

    .
  • Hour of the Gun
    Hour of the Gun
    Hour of the Gun is 1967 Western film starring James Garner and depicting Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday during their 1881 battles against Ike Clanton and his brothers in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the gunfight's aftermath in and around Tombstone, Arizona.The film is based on the non fiction...

    (1967) – Stars James Garner
    James Garner
    James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

     in the first of two movies with Garner as Earp.
  • Doc
    Doc (film)
    Doc is a 1971 American western film, which tells the story of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and of one of its protagonists, Doc Holliday. It stars Stacy Keach, Faye Dunaway and Harris Yulin. It was directed by Frank Perry, while Pete Hamill wrote the original screenplay...

    (1971) – Gunfight of the O.K. Corral from Doc Holliday's point of view. Stacy Keach
    Stacy Keach
    Stacy Keach is an American actor and narrator. He is most famous for his dramatic roles; however, he has done narration work in educational programming on PBS and the Discovery Channel, as well as some comedy and musical...

     as Doc and Harris Yulin
    Harris Yulin
    Harris Yulin is an American actor who has appeared in dozens of Hollywood and television films.-Life and career:Yulin was born in...

     as Wyatt.
  • Tombstone
    Tombstone (film)
    Tombstone is a 1993 American action film set in the Old West directed by George P. Cosmatos, along with uncredited directorial efforts by actor Kurt Russell and writer Kevin Jarre. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Jarre....

    (1993) – Stars Kurt Russell
    Kurt Russell
    Kurt Vogel Russell is an American television and film actor. His first acting roles were as a child in television series, including a lead role in the Western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters...

    .
  • Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994) – Film combines colorized footage of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
    The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
    The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp is a Western television series loosely based on the adventures of frontier marshal Wyatt Earp. The half-hour black and white series ran on ABC-TV from 1955 to 1961 and featured Hugh O'Brian as Earp. An off-camera barbershop quartet sang the theme song and hummed...

    with new scenes filmed in Tombstone.
  • Wyatt Earp
    Wyatt Earp (film)
    Wyatt Earp is a 1994 American semi-biographical Western film, written by Dan Gordon and Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Kasdan. It stars Kevin Costner in the title role as lawman Wyatt Earp, and features an ensemble cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Isabella Rossellini, Mark Harmon,...

    (1994) – Stars Kevin Costner
    Kevin Costner
    Kevin Michael Costner is an American actor, singer, musician, producer, director, and businessman. He has been nominated for three BAFTA Awards, won two Academy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. Costner's roles include Lt. John J...

    .
  • Black Hats (film) (2012) - Stars Harrison Ford
    Harrison Ford
    Harrison Ford is an American film actor and producer. He is famous for his performances as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy and as the title character of the Indiana Jones film series. Ford is also known for his roles as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, John Book in Witness and Jack Ryan in...

  • The First Ride of Wyatt Earp
    The First Ride of Wyatt Earp
    The First Ride of Wyatt Earp is an upcoming Western film about the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp sitting down having an interview with a reporter in Los Angeles and talks about his first ride to find the person who killed his first love. Val Kilmer will be starring as Earp. The film is set for...

    (2012)- Stars Val Kilmer
    Val Kilmer
    Val Edward Kilmer is an American actor. Originally a stage actor, Kilmer became popular in the mid-1980s after a string of appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! , then the cult classic Real Genius , as well as blockbuster action films, including a supporting role in Top Gun and a...


Earp as a character or adaptation of the legend

  • Law and Order
    Law and Order (1932 film)
    Law And Order is a 1932 film. The film starred Walter Huston, Harry Carey, Andy Devine, Russell Hopton and Russell Simpson.The film retells the story of the OK Corral shootout in Tombstone, AZ. It is based on the novel Saint Johnson by W. R. Burnett...

    (1932) Walter Huston
    Walter Huston
    Walter Thomas Huston was a Canadian-born American actor. He was the father of actor and director John Huston and the grandfather of actress Anjelica Huston and actor Danny Huston.-Life and career:...

     as Frame Johnson, a character inspired by Wyatt Earp.
  • Dodge City
    Dodge City (1939 film)
    Dodge City is a 1939 American Western film starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Bruce Cabot. Directed by Hungarian-turned-Hollywood filmmaker Michael Curtiz and based on a story by Robert Buckner, it was filmed in early Technicolor...

    (1939) – Errol Flynn
    Errol Flynn
    Errol Leslie Flynn was an Australian-born actor. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, being a legend and his flamboyant lifestyle.-Early life:...

     as Wade Hatton, inspired by Wyatt Earp.
  • Winchester '73 (1950) – James Stewart
    James Stewart (actor)
    James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

     wins a rare Winchester rifle that is stolen. Will Geer
    Will Geer
    Will Geer was an American actor and social activist. His original name was William Aughe Ghere. He is remembered for his portrayal of Grandpa Zebulon Tyler Walton in the 1970s TV series, The Waltons....

     portrays Wyatt Earp.
  • Gun Belt (1953) – Outlaw Billy Ringo tries to go straight.
  • Masterson of Kansas (1954) – Bat Masterson is assisted by Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday
  • Badman's Country (1958) – Pat Garrett
    Pat Garrett
    Patrick Floyd "Pat" Garrett was an American Old West lawman, bartender, and customs agent who was best known for killing Billy the Kid...

     catches up to Butch Cassidy
    Butch Cassidy
    Robert LeRoy Parker , better known as Butch Cassidy, was a notorious American train robber, bank robber, and leader of the Wild Bunch Gang in the American Old West...

    's gang and calls in Wyatt Earp.
  • Alias Jesse James
    Alias Jesse James
    Alias Jesse James is a Bob Hope western comedy movie. A highlight for fans of Westerns of that era happens during the gun fight climax at the end of the movie that features a number of cameos by movie and television personalities Alias Jesse James (1959) is a Bob Hope western comedy movie. A...

    (1959) – Bob Hope
    Bob Hope
    Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS was a British-born American comedian and actor who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in radio, television and movies. He was also noted for his work with the US Armed Forces and his numerous USO shows entertaining American military personnel...

     stars and Hugh O'Brian
    Hugh O'Brian
    Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp .-Early years and career:...

     briefly appears as Wyatt Earp.
  • The Secret World of Eddie Hodges (1960) – TV musical starring Jackie Gleason
    Jackie Gleason
    Jackie Gleason was an American comedian, actor and musician. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, especially by his character Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, a situation-comedy television series. His most noted film roles were as Minnesota Fats in the drama film The...

     Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp
  • Cheyenne Autumn
    Cheyenne Autumn
    Cheyenne Autumn is a 1964 western starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, James Stewart, and Edward G. Robinson. Regarded as an epic film it tells the story of a factual event, the Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878-9, although it is told in 'Hollywood style' using a great degree of artistic license...

    (1964) has a sequence featuring James Stewart
    James Stewart
    James Stewart was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart may also refer to:-Noblemen:*James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland*James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn James Stewart (1908–1997) was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart...

     as Earp and Arthur Kennedy
    Arthur Kennedy (actor)
    Arthur Kennedy was an American stage and film actor known for his versatility in supporting film roles and his ability to create "an exceptional honesty and naturalness on stage" especially in the original casts of Arthur Miller plays on Broadway.- Early life and education :Kennedy was born John...

     as Doc Holliday in Dodge CIty.
  • Desafío en Rio Bravo
    Desafío en Río Bravo
    Desafío en Río Bravo is a 1965 Italian film directed by Tulio Dimicheli....

    (1965) – Guy Madison
    Guy Madison
    Guy Madison was an American film and television actor.-Early life:Born Robert Ozell Moseley in Pumpkin Center, California, Madison attended Bakersfield College, a junior college, for two years and then worked briefly as a telephone lineman before joining the United States Coast Guard in...

     as Wyatt Earp.
  • "The Gunfighters
    The Gunfighters
    The Gunfighters is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, set in 19th Century America on the days leading up to the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral...

    " (1966) Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    episode – The TARDIS
    TARDIS
    The TARDISGenerally, TARDIS is written in all upper case letters—this convention was popularised by the Target novelisations of the 1970s...

     materializes in Tombstone, where the characters become embroiled in the events leading up to the famous gunfight.
  • "Spectre of the Gun" (1968) Star Trek: The Original Series
    Star Trek: The Original Series
    Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

    episode – The officers aboard the USS Enterprise
    USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
    The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, is a fictional starship in the Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series depicts her crew's mission "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before" under the command of Captain James...

     reenact the roles of the Clanton gang. Ron Soble plays Wyatt Earp as a criminal.
  • Which Way to the OK Corral? (1971) Alias Smith and Jones
    Alias Smith and Jones
    Alias Smith and Jones is an American Western series that originally aired on ABC from 1971 to 1973. It stars Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes and Ben Murphy as Jedediah "Kid" Curry, a pair of Western cousin outlaws trying to reform...

     – Cameron Mitchell
    Cameron Mitchell (actor)
    Cameron Mitchell was an American film, television and Broadway actor with close ties to one of Canada's most successful families, and considered, by Lee Strasberg, to be one of the founding members of The Actor's Studio in New York City.-Early life and career:Born Cameron MacDowell Mitzel in...

     as Wyatt Earp and Bill Fletcher
    Bill Fletcher
    Bill Fletcher is a Republican politician from the U.S. state of North Carolina. Fletcher was the Republican nominee for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction in the North Carolina Council of State election, 2004....

     as Doc Holliday
  • I Married Wyatt Earp
    I Married Wyatt Earp
    The book I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus, first published by the University of Arizona Press in 1976, was sold as a memoir of Josephine Earp, the widow of western Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. It was regarded for many years as a factual account that shed...

    (1983) – Television docudrama based on the fictionalized memoirs of Josephine Marcus Earp, played by Marie Osmond
    Marie Osmond
    Olive Marie Osmond is an American singer, actress, doll designer, and a member of the show business family The Osmonds. Although she was never part of her family's singing group, she gained success as a solo country music artist in the 1970s and 1980s...

    .
  • Sunset
    Sunset (film)
    Sunset is a 1988 film released by TriStar Pictures. Written and directed by Blake Edwards, the movie stars Bruce Willis as legendary western actor Tom Mix and James Garner as legendary lawman Wyatt Earp....

    (1988) – Bruce Willis
    Bruce Willis
    Walter Bruce Willis , better known as Bruce Willis, is an American actor, producer, and musician. His career began in television in the 1980s and has continued both in television and film since, including comedic, dramatic, and action roles...

     as Tom Mix
    Tom Mix
    Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but nine of which were silent features...

     and James Garner
    James Garner
    James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

     as Wyatt Earp team up to solve a murder at the 1929 Academy Award
  • Deadwood
    Deadwood (TV series)
    Deadwood is an American Western drama television series created, produced and largely written by David Milch. The series aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, spanning three 12-episode seasons. The show is set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, before...

    (2006) – Wyatt and Morgan appear in two episodes. Gale Harold
    Gale Harold
    Gale Morgan Harold III is an American actor widely known for his roles on Queer as Folk, Desperate Housewives and Hellcats.-Early life:...

     as Wyatt Earp.

External links