Wyatt Earp – 132 years ago

Wyatt Earp

1881 – October 26 – Tombstone Arizona

This was the date of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – One of the most noted incidents in all of the Old West Stories and the one that set Wyatt Earp firmly into The Old West Lawman legend we know today.

He was born in 1848 on March 18 in Monmouth Illinois; spending most of his childhood on a farm near Pella, Iowa.  His father Nicholas, became a Municipal Constable for three years when Wyatt was 8 years old, his first experience of peace keeping.

Three of Wyatt Earp’s family joined the Union Army in 1861, November 11.  The Earp family left for California in 1864, May 12.  Wyatt and his brother Virgil started work as stage coach drivers in 1865.

Wyatt became a teamster transporting products to Arizona, Nevada and Utah.  He engaged in a range of business activities in including the leasing of saloons in the 1880s and having a race horse he is reputed to have won in his gambling activities.

In 1869 Wyatt Earp became a Constable in Lamar, Missouri and married Urilla Sutherland in 1870, January 10.  His wife died not long after, possibly in November of that year.  Death occurred during child birth and there appears to have been a link with Consumption (Tuberculosis).

Wyatt was arrested on charges of horse theft by United States Marshall J. Owens in 1871, April 1.  He was never convicted of this crime.  He joined the Marshall’s Office in 1875, April 21.  During this period, he received the first of his many plaudits for work as a lawman.

Wyatt was appointed Deputy Marshall to Dodge City in 1876.

Sometime on 1878 Wyatt, while surrounded by a group seemingly intending to do him harm, he was assisted by “Doc Holliday” and his interesting and unusual friendship with a known felon began.

Wyatt and his brothers James and Virgil moved to Tombstone in 1879, probably sometime in September.  In 1880, brothers Morgan and Warren also joined him.

The O.K. Corral – The most famous incident in his life occurred at the O.K. Carrol in 1881, October 26.  Full details can be found on the Wyatt Page.

Morgan Earp was killed in 1882, March 18.  Morgan was attended by a doctor but died from a bullet wound in less than an hour.

Wyatt and his associates conducted what has become known as the Vendetta Ride.  This was a direct challenge to William Brocius and the cowboys during which Brocius and several members of his gang were killed.

Wyatt played a part in the what is referred to as the Dodge City War in 1883.

In 1897 Earp took his common law wife Josephine Sarah Marcus (commonly known as Josie) to Alaska and ran saloons and gambling houses for several years.

In 1906 Wyatt and Josie were in various parts of California including a small town (never actually proclaimed as a town) that was named “Earp”.

Wyatt died at home in 1929, January 13 at the age of 80.

His mother is Virginia Ann Cooksey and she had married Nicholas Earp in 1840, July 30.  This marriage also produced:-

1841, June 28 – James Cooksey Earp.

1843, July 18 – Virgil Walter Earp.

1845, September 25 – Martha Elizabeth Earp.

1851, April 24 – Morgan Seth Earp.

1855, March 9 – Warren Baxter Earp.

1858, February 28 – Virginia Ann Earp.

1861, June 16 – Adelia Douglas Earp.

Read more about Wyatt and his family on the Wyatt, his family and his Old West Stories.

Movies and Television

There are no Old West Stories mentioned more often in movies or on television than Wyatt Earp.  These mentions include:-

  • Frontier Marshall (1934)
  • Frontier Marshall (1939)
  • Tombstone, the Town too Tough to Die (1942)
  • My Darling Clementine (1946)
  • Winchester ’73 (1950)
  • Wichita (1955)
  • The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955 – 1961)
  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
  • Sfida Rio Bravo (1965)
  • Spectre of the Gun (1968)
  • Doc (1971)
  • I Married Wyatt Earp (1983)
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
  • The Gunfighters (1966)
  • Hour of the Gun (1967)
  • The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991)
  • Tombstone (1993)  My favourite Wyatt Earp movie.
  • Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994)
  • Wyatt Earp (1994)
  • Deadwood (2006)

Go to my Wyatt Earp Page to learn more.

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