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Wyatt Earp - Spouse, Siblings and Tombstone

Wyatt Earp - Spouse, Siblings and Tombstone


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One of the most famous figures to emerge from the colorful 19th-century history of the American West, Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was known first and foremost for his participation in a notorious gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. Both before and after that date, Earp moved from town to town across the West, earning his living as a saloonkeeper, gunslinger, gambler, miner and frontier lawman, alongside his brothers. Late in life, he settled in California, and collaborated on a largely fictionalized account of his life that made him a popular hero when it was published in 1931, two years after he died.

Wyatt Earp’s Early Life and Pre-Tombstone Career

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born in 1848 in Monmouth, Illinois. The third of five sons born to Nicholas and Virginia Ann Earp, he spent his early life in Illinois and Iowa. As a young teenager, Wyatt repeatedly tried to run away and join his brothers James and Virgil and his half-brother Newton, who fought for the Union during the Civil War; each time he was caught and forced to return home. At 17, Wyatt left home and found work hauling freight and grading track for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1869, he joined his family in Lamar, Missouri, becoming the local constable after his father resigned the position.

In early 1870, Earp married Urilla Sutherland, but she died of typhoid within the year. Devastated, he sold his newly bought house and left town to move around the Indian Territory and Kansas. During this period, Earp frequented the saloons, gambling houses and brothels that proliferated on the frontier, and had several run-ins with law enforcement. But after helping a police officer in Wichita track down a wagon thief, Earp joined that city’s police force (1875-76) and later became deputy town marshal of Dodge City. It was in Dodge City that Earp would make the acquaintance of Doc Holliday, a well-known gunman and gambler.

Wyatt Earp & The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

In 1879, Earp and his longtime companion, the former prostitute Mattie Blaylock, left Dodge City for Tombstone, Arizona. The town was booming after a silver rush, and most of the Earp family had gathered there. Virgil was working as the town marshal, and Wyatt began working alongside him. In March 1881, while pursuing a group of cowboys who had robbed a stagecoach, Wyatt struck a deal with local rancher Ike Clanton, who had ties to the cowboys. Clanton soon turned against him, however, and began threatening the Earp brothers. The feud escalated, and finally exploded into violence on October 26, 1881 at the O.K. Corral.

In the gunfight, Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday faced off against the Clanton gang (Ike, his brother Billy, and Tom and Frank McLaury). Morgan, Virgil and Holliday were all wounded, but survived; Billy and the McLaurys were killed; and Wyatt Earp escaped without injury. Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earp brothers and Holliday, but a judge cleared them in late November. In December, Virgil was shot and seriously wounded by unknown attackers; the following March, Morgan was killed when unknown gunmen attacked him and Wyatt at a Tombstone saloon. On a hunt for the culprits, Wyatt and his gang killed several suspects, then decided to leave town to avoid prosecution.

Wyatt Earp’s Post-Tombstone Life and Legend

After leaving Tombstone, Wyatt Earp moved around the West, eventually settling in California with Josephine Marcus, with whom he would spend the next 40 years. Over the years, he made a living by gambling, saloon-keeping, mining and real estate speculation. He also worked with a personal secretary, John H. Flood, to write his memoirs, which received a poor reception during his lifetime. Earp died in Los Angeles in January 1929, at the age of 80.

The first major Earp biography, “Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal” by Stuart N. Lake, was published in 1931 and became a bestseller, establishing Earp as a folk hero among millions of Americans searching for inspiration and excitement during the hard times of the Great Depression. Though Lake met with Earp himself near the end of his life, he later admitted that many of the quotations attributed to the frontiersman were invented, and the biography today is accepted as largely fictional.


Urilla Sutherland: The Truth About Wyatt Earp's First Wife

In the mythos that is the American West, few names are as short as Earp. One syllable. Lots of legends. A few of which even hold up.

One of the things history tells us is how complicated life really was back in — oh, any time, really. Decisions made in a moment were predicated by a lifetime of events that may or may not have direct causal connection. Which still doesn't explain The New Coke.

The generation of Earps that included Wyatt and his brothers reveals a mixed bag of heroism and maybe not-so-heroism, romance and soul-crushing heartbreak. As Casey Tefertiller, author of 1999's Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend, wrote recently of Wyatt, "The new research shows an Earp who is anything but flawless, rather than an Earp who went through a lifetime of achievement, struggle and disappointments. He made many poor decisions in his life and a few very good ones. He was . human."


Wyatt Earp's Relationship with Women Was. Complicated

All told, Wyatt Earp had a complicated domestic situation. He had four wives and, for a time, he was loyal to each one.

Something that doesn&rsquot normally get talked about with Wyatt Earp is Wyatt&rsquos history with women. Forewarning: it&rsquos going to get a little bawdy here.

Wyatt Earp was a man who respected marriage and thought marriage was important&mdashin fact, he thought it was so important that he was married four times. Less important, however, was divorce, as there&rsquos not much evidence to suggest that he actually divorced any of his previous wives before he married the next one and often they tended to overlap. To say the least, Wyatt Earp had a somewhat complicated domestic situation. In my book, Dodge City, I contrast that to Bat Masterson, who did not marry until he was well into his thirties and when he did marry, he married for life. Bat and his wife, Emma, were together for thirty-three years until Bat&rsquos death.

Wyatt had a different story when it came to women. In his early twenties, Wyatt was wandering around, going from job to job, and decided he would visit his family. They were living at Lamar, Missouri at the time, so Wyatt journeyed back to Lamar from the west. He lived there for a while, and met a young woman, Aurilla Sutherland. Aurilla&rsquos parents were originally from New York City and had come to Lamar after the Civil War to operate a hotel. How Wyatt and Aurilla met is uncertain&mdashthey were both part of a methodist community and may have met that way, or they may have met because Nicholas Earp, Wyatt&rsquos father, had a business that was just a few doors down from the Sutherland&rsquos hotel.

In any case, Wyatt, who was in his early 20s, and Aurilla, who was around the age of 19 at that time, met and fell in love. They were married and Wyatt bought a piece of property with a small house for $75. He intended to expand the house, which was going to come in handy because not too long after they were married Aurilla became pregnant. Wyatt had also been appointed a constable in Lamar. It looked like life was pretty well mapped out for Earp and everything seemed to be fine until late in Aurilla&rsquos pregnancy, she became ill. The most common probability is that she contracted cholera, which both she and the baby died from.

Wyatt was grief-stricken and, being unable to handle the way he was feeling, started to get into fights. He sold the piece of property now that he had no use for it and left Lamar to begin a life of crime. Wyatt got into trouble in different towns, the worst instance occuring when Wyatt and some companions stole horses and were caught. Earp ended up being imprisoned as a horse thief and that he wasn&rsquot hanged was a miracle for that time. Luckily, there was more of a judicial system available in Missouri and Kansas than there was farther out west where you were hanged if you were caught stealing horses. After serving his time, Wyatt got out of jail, he took off, kept a low profile, and ended up in Wichita.

Wichita was a place of redemption for Wyatt Earp, as he was able to get a job as a part-time lawman, a definite turnaround point for him. However, one of his jobs to make extra pay, which was not unusual at the time for lawmen, was as a bouncer at a house of prostitution. Today it would cause some serious issues for a policeman to moonlight as a bouncer at a brothel, but at that time it was a pretty decent way to make a few extra dollars.

It seemed as though Sally and Wyatt would be together for quite some time.

It was while he was working at one of these houses that he met Sarah Haspel, who was known as Sally Haspel. Sally was still young, a teenager, working as a prostitute in a whorehouse that was run by her mother. She and Wyatt developed feelings for each other and she would become Mrs. Earp number two. It seemed as though Sally and Wyatt would be together for quite some time&mdashSally didn&rsquot have to live the life she had been living as long as Wyatt could support her. When the time came that Wyatt Earp accepted an invitation to become an assistant marshal of Dodge City, Sally Haspel came along.

Along the way to Dodge City, Wyatt met Celia Ann &ldquoMattie&rdquo Blaylock and fell in love with her and she with him. There was a bit of a problem for this new love in that Sally was still around. So, to take care of that issue, Sally was put on a farm with Wyatt&rsquos brother to wait for Wyatt to visit and Mattie became Wyatt Earp&rsquos third wife. They were together in Dodge City and everybody knew Mattie as Wyatt&rsquos wife. Eventually, Sally got wind of what was going on but decided not to go to Dodge City and fight for her man. She instead moved on, marrying another man and having children, living into her nineties before she passed away.

Mattie Blaylock and Wyatt were together for years, all through the Dodge City years and through some of Wyatt&rsquos travels. But this marriage, too, did not last. While in Tombstone, Wyatt met Josephine Marcus. Josephine Marcus had been born in New York but her family relocated to the west coast and she grew up in the San Francisco area. When she was a teenager, she ran off to join an acting troupe, which toured California, Arizona, New Mexico&mdashstopping any place that was large enough and could afford to pay for a stage for an acting troupe.

Josephine Marcus was actually engaged for a time to a man called John Behan, the county sheriff then who was not too delicately trying to straddle both sides of the law. He was a lawman, but also in with the Clanton gang and the horse thieves and cattle rustlers that were prominent on that side of the Arizona border. He was also a philanderer and eventually Josephine called off the engagement.

Wyatt noticed Josephine and was quite taken with her, so they started to see each other. Mattie learned of this new relationship and she thought that Wyatt would get over it, that it was a passing thing, but unfortunately for Mattie it wasn&rsquot. Wyatt made Josephine wife number four with Mattie still around. Mattie had to be persuaded to leave town, which she eventually did.

Mattie was heartbroken when Wyatt took Josephine and left her behind, not quite recognizing the pattern Earp had established when she became wife number three. She had a hard time with life after Wyatt Earp, becoming addicted to laudanum. She went to live for a time with Big Nose Kate Elder, who was Doc Holliday&rsquos girlfriend before moving elsewhere to live by herself. While she was living by herself she took an overdose of laudanum and died&mdasha tragic ending to the life of Wyatt&rsquos third wife.

Wyatt and Josephine were together for many years, getting together in the early 1880s and staying together until Wyatt died in 1929. They were together during all of Wyatt&rsquos travels&mdashfrom Arizona and New Mexico, to California, then Alaska and back to California, where they lived in San Diego for a few years. In the later years, Wyatt and Sadie would live in Los Angeles, with Wyatt doing some consulting work with directors of silent westerns, including John Ford.

After Wyatt passed away in January 1929, Josephine would move upstate in California and live with Virgil&rsquos widow. They lived together for years as friends and companions, and were even buried in the same cemetery.

All told, Wyatt had a complicated domestic situation. He had four wives and, for a time, he was loyal to each one.


People Starting A Wyatt Earp House Story

Frank Waters

Allie in 1865

Wyatt arrived in Tombstone AZ in early December 1879. His common law wife, Mattie, with him. We know from Allie Earp, Virgil's wife, that Wyatt Earp bought a house of their own in Tombstone. It's first discussed in the writings of Frank Waters.

Allie says when she and Virgil first got to town they rented a shack. None of the brothers had much money. They all got homes once they started working. That included the women, who worked sewing.

Allie said she wanted their own home, which happened. It was located at the Southwest corner of Fremont and 1st. She noted that when Morgan got to town, he moved in with them.

What caused later confusion is that Waters's book describes her saying "Wyatt and Mattie lived on the Northeast corner." 1  That describes the Wyatt Earp house in Tombstone that visitors to town now go to see. The Northeast corner of Fremont and 1st.

But is that what Allie truly said?

  • Was it Allie's memory breakdown? Since Waters interviewed her many years after they lived in Tombstone. 
  • Was it an author's memory failure, since his book first published in 1960? 
  • Or was it a careless mistake of the book's author?

Wyatt Earp researcher John D. Rose traces it to Waters's book having changes from the initial narrative. In the original Waters manuscript, he quoted Allie telling him "Our house was next door to Wyatt and Mattie's except for a vacant lot between." 

Writer Allen Barra compared the first Waters manuscript, called Tombstone Travesty with his book, written 25 years later: The Earp Brothers of Tombstone. Barra also interviewed Frank Waters. The two accounts are based on Waters's interviews with Allie Earp.

Barra says the problem is "the two versions are in violent contradiction because Frank Waters invented the second. because the real Allie Earp did not say the things about the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday that Frank Waters wanted her to say." 3

John Gilchriese

Rose relates another factor adding to the confusion. It helps support this current, general belief of the Wyatt Earp house in Tombstone's location.

John Gilchriese, a University of Arizona field historian and noted Wyatt Earp collector, published a map in the late 1960s. It shows a home on the Northeast corner of Fremont and 1st as owned by Wyatt Earp. 2  

But remember, according to Rose and Barra, the original Waters manuscript is more reliable. It was written close in time to his actual interview with Allie. It places Tombstone's Wyatt Earp house in the correct location. It was next to Virgil and Mattie's, on the South side of Fremont Street.

But wait, there's more supporting evidence.

Troubles in Tombstone Bring Earp Money Troubles

You've heard of Wyatt Earp's involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral? Right? If not, Click to Read It>

Afterwards, half the town supported the Earp brothers' (and Doc Holliday) actions. But half didn't. Tombstone was divided on their methods of dealing with local ranchers known as The Cowboys. The Earp brothers became targets, when they weren't held to justice for killing the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton. That is, in the opinion of many. They received threats on their lives. Their families were threatened. 

Virgil Earp lost his position as U.S. Deputy Marshal, after being shot. His health status was risky for a time, but he recovered. They still had friends in the law, local government and professions. Wyatt was appointed to replace Virgil as U.S. Deputy Marshal.

Wyatt recruited friends for a posse to hunt down those who were out to get them. He got a Federal warrant to arrest law-breakers. He took his posse to Charleston and raided homes throughout, without finding any culprits. The population there wasn't thrilled with that event!

Then on March 18, 1882 Morgan Earp was killed in Campbell & Hatch's Saloon on Allen Street. Wyatt Earp was devastated, but livid. He was determined to avenge his two brothers.

Wyatt's posse roamed Southeastern Arizona, looking for those who attacked Virgil and killed Morgan. During his "Vendetta Ride" four men were killed. His brother Warren Earp rode with this posse. The Earp brothers had no earned income during this time. No doubt while planning his vengeance, Wyatt looked to source funds from somewhere. Apparently, that was Wyatt's Tombstone home and property.

Wyatt Mortgages His House in Tombstone

On February 13, 1882 Wyatt and Mattie went to a local judge and Notary Public to write out a mortgage statement securing funds. Earp friend, James G. Howard, held the mortgage on Wyatt's home. Howard loaned Wyatt $365, plus interest of 2% per month. 4

He received the funds in gold coin. Wyatt's home was collateral, on a promissory note. Wyatt had to repay in gold coin in three months, with no grace period. Particularly important related to the Tombstone Wyatt Earp house, was the description of Wyatt's home location in this mortgage document. 4

Where Did Wyatt Earp Live in Tombstone?

The loan was secured with the land parcel in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory. It described the exact location, to quote 4  [bullet itemized only by this website]:

  • House and lot on Fremont Street
  • situate about one hundred feet (more or less) from the southwest corner of Fremont Street
  • and westerly from the house and lot of Virgil Earp
  • two lots intervening between the lot hereby mortgaged
  • and said house of Virgil Earp
  • being the same premises hereto-fore occupied as a residence by said mortgagors

So we can see this legal document describes a house owned by Wyatt Earp. It states they lived there: Wyatt Earp and Mattie occupied this residence. It's on the same side of the street as Virgil Earp's house. That is, the South side of Fremont Street.

So, Wyatt Lived Next to Virgil

Now hang on, there's even more!

If Virgil's home occupied two lots, then Wyatt's home would have been on this overhead view below on lots numbered 5 and 6. If Virgil's home only occupied one lot, then Wyatt's home would have been on lots numbered 4 and 5. You see what we mean.


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Wyatt Earp's first wife, Urilla died before her 22nd birthday along with their unborn child. The humble grave lies on the outskirts of Lamar, Missouri in farmland much unchanged since they gathered to bury her. The life of Wyatt and his legacy in history and Tombstone would forever be changed upon the passing of his Urilla.

The American West Enthusiast

Wyatt Earp's first wife, Urilla Sutherland sadly died less than a year in to their marriage. Speculation has been made as to the cause, but their unborn child died with her. Her death in 1870 turned the path of Wyatt's life in to a future even he couldn't foresee. In the backroads of the farmland north of Lamar, Missouri, Urilla lays to rest in a humble grave under a tree in Howell Cemetery where most all the time, someone still leaves her flowers.

Seeing the places and space in which Western History was written has always been an interest of mine. I have to believe the farmland surrounding this area is much unchanged since they day they came together to bury Urilla here.


Gunfight

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is the most famous gunfight of the American West and is reenacted daily in Tombstone. Credit: O.K Corral. (Photo: Handout, O.K. Corral/ Special for The Republic)

During the next few months, things became tense in Tombstone between the Earps, Behan and the cattle-rustling Clanton-McLaury gang, culminating in the Oct. 26 gunfight that included more than 30 shots fired in less than one minute and squarely placing Tombstone into Wild West lore.

“Town sympathies were initially with the Earps, who were acquitted by an inquest jury and then by a judge,” Kirschner says. “But the cowboys vowed revenge, and the town exploded again when the cowboys ambushed Virgil Earp and killed Morgan Earp. That’s when Wyatt sent Virgil and all the Earp women (including Mattie Blaylock) to the family in San Bernardino, Calif., while he stayed behind to avenge his brothers.”

Josephine meanwhile aligned with Wyatt, and also left Tombstone for San Francisco to wait for him to pick her up.


The American Cowboy Chronicles

After my article on Nellie Cashman, I have decided to do a short series about the women who lived in the Old West.

Louisa Houston Earp, who was married to Morgan Earp in Montana sometime between 1871 and 1877, was born on January 24th, 1855, in Wisconsin and was supposedly the granddaughter of Sam Houston of Texas fame. Before Lou, as she was known, met Morgan, she and her sister Kate were both Harvey girls.

Fred Harvey opened a chain of hotels and restaurants along the railroad lines, which became known as Harvey Houses. In order to become a "Harvey Girl," the women had to have at least an 8th-grade education, good moral character, good manners, and be neat as well as articulate. Not only did Louisa have all of those qualities about her, but she was also a very pretty woman who didn't hurt either.

Just as always, Hollywood rarely gets anything correct. In the movie Tombstone, Louisa Earp went to Morgan's side in Hatches saloon after he was shot and killed. In reality, Louisa was staying with Morgan Earp's mother and father in Colton, California, at the time Morgan was killed. He felt that she would be safer with his folks than being in Tombstone.

After Morgan's death, Louisa stayed in Southern California, where in 1885, she re-married a longshoreman in Long Beach by the name of Gustav Peters. This marriage only lasted about four years because Louisa died on June 12th, 1894, of Nephritis and Diarrhea.

Nephritis is a medical term for inflamed kidneys, and if not treated, it leads to complete kidney failure. It was said about Lou by people who knew her that Morgan was the true love of her life and that she actually died of a broken heart -- if one can believe that.

Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock, Wyatt Earp's common-law wife, was born in January of 1850 in Monroe Township, Johnson County, Iowa, not far from Fairfax, Iowa. Being raised on her very strict parents' farm, Celia or Celie, as she was known by her nick name wanted nothing to do with farm life, and with her younger sister, Sarah ran away in 1868.

It's not known how the two survived during that time, but both were excellent seamstresses and could have made their living at that trade. At some point within a year, Sarah decided that it was too hard trying to survive on her own and went home to her parents.

It was sometime after her sister left that Celia chose the alias of "Mattie." This was most likely to conceal her real name and identity.

The first known record of Mattie was of a picture taken in Fort Scott in 1871, and court records show she had adopted prostitution as her profession in 1872. Mattie met Wyatt Earp in Fort Scott and again later in Dodge City somewhere between 1871 and 1873.

During Wyatt and Mattie's early time together, she continued plying her trade as a prostitute. In the 1878 United States Census, she was listed as Wyatt's wife but no record of a legal marriage between the two ever existed.

Mattie became afflicted with severe headaches, which today would be known as migraines. And by the time she and Wyatt arrived in Tombstone, Mattie was addicted to Laudanum, which was a very strong opiate pain killer of that time period.

Following the murder of Morgan Earp in March of 1882, Wyatt, along with his youngest brother Warren as well as other posse members, began their vendetta ride searching out Morgan's killers. Mattie left Tombstone with the other Earp family members and headed to Colton, California, to the home of their parents.

Mattie waited to hear from Wyatt, but she never did. Basically, Wyatt had abandoned her with his folks, and after the vendetta ride ended, he headed into New Mexico and on to Colorado while all the time planning to head up to San Francisco to be with Josephine Marcus.

Mattie left Colton and went to Pinal City, Arizona, where she had planned once again to ply her trade of prostitution, but when she arrived, the silver boom town had mostly played out, and the bulk of the population had moved on, making it hard for her to make a living.

Mattie died of a lethal dose of Laudanum mixed with alcohol on July 3rd, 1888. Her death was ruled a suicide, but it is possible that it was an accidental overdose because no suicide note was found. If Mattie would have wanted Wyatt to feel guilty for her death like the movie Tombstone presented, she would have defiantly left a suicide note.

Josephine Sara Marcus, Wyatt Earp's last common-law wife, was born in 1860 in New York, but the family moved shortly afterward to San Francisco, California, in 1868. Josephine attended dance school somewhere between the ages of 7 or 8 and decided to run away from home around the age of 14.

Records show that she may have reached Prescott, Arizona Territory, as early as 1874 as well as Tip Top, Arizona Territory, that same year under the name of Sadie Mansfield, working as a prostitute in the area from 1874 to 1876. She became ill and returned home to San Francisco, possibly in 1876.

Josephine's life is very sketchy between the years of 1874 to 1880, but the records of Tombstone, later on, had also shown the name of Sadie Mansfield, and the two were very similar in many ways, making it a high probability that Sadie and Josephine were one and the same.

Josie, as she was known, joined the Pauline Markham Theater Company around the age of 19 in 1879. And while in the Arizona Territory, she fell in love with Johnnie Behan, who was the Cochise County Sheriff. He resided in Tombstone.

Behan had promised to marry her, but he never did, so she became known as his common-law wife. Sometime between 1880 and 1881, Josie left Behan for Wyatt Earp even though Wyatt was still with Mattie, his common-law wife.

After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Josie returned to San Francisco in 1882, where she was met by Wyatt in the fall of that same year. Wyatt and Josie stayed together until Wyatt's death in 1929. They were together for 46 years.

Once again, Hollywood gets it wrong in the movie Tombstone. In the movie, Josie came to Tombstone with an entertainment troupe and put on a show at the Birdcage Theater. This is not possible because the Birdcage Theater did not open until December 26th, 1881, two months after the gunfight at the OK Corral had taken place.

Alvira "Allie" Packingham Sullivan Earp, or Allie as she was known, was born to John and Mary Louise Sullivan on January 1st, 1849, in Florence, Nebraska Territory, which is now part of Omaha. She was the middle child of nine children.

The Sullivan family witnessed the Mormon Migration while living in Florence at the same time Brigham Young was there.

The family moved to Omaha just before Allie's father went off to fight in the Civil War in 1861, and shortly after that, her mother died. Allie's father, John Sullivan, could not be reached, so Allie and her siblings were divided up among various families in Omaha. Allie lived with the McGath family, where she was treated as nothing more than an indentured servant, so she ran away living with various other families in the area.

In 1873, Allie was working as a waitress in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where she met Virgil Earp. From there, in 1879, the couple traveled to Prescott, Arizona Territory, where Virgil was appointed Deputy United States Marshal on November 27th, 1879. And after only one month, they went to Tombstone.

In retaliation for the O.K. Corral shootout, Virgil was badly wounded on December 28th, 1882, losing the use of his left arm with Allie staying by his side almost constantly. After Morgan Earp was murdered by an ambush on March 18th, 1882, Allie, along with the rest of the Earp family, escorted Morgan's body, departing Tucson on March 20th, only two days after Morgan's death, to the home of the Earp seniors in Colton, California.

Allie was with Virgil as he became a peace officer in Colton and up until the time he became the city marshal in Gold Field, Nevada, where he contracted phenomena and died in 1905. Allie Passed away on her birthday, January 1st, 1947, at the ripe old age of 98 years.

We all know the story of the Earp brothers while they were in Tombstone, but the story of their wives is just as interesting but in a different way. These women lived a hard life even before meeting the Earp brothers and lived a hard, heartbreaking life after becoming the wives of these men.

In this day and age, we can't even imagine the hardships of the women who did whatever it took just to survive back then. Make no mistake, the majority of western women during that time period were a hardy lot.

This once working cowboy is best known for his fight against the City of Tombstone and their historic City Ordinance Number 9, America's most famous gun-control law.

He was instrumental in finally getting Tombstone City Ordinance Number 9 repealed and having Tombstone fall in line with the state of Arizona.


Sitting with Wyatt Earp

Dreams of a “fly-on-the-wall” moment in Western history certainly include sitting with Wyatt Earp in the 1920s as he set the record straight about his life and legend, including
his take on the 1881 Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

During Sunday visits to the Los Angeles cottage Wyatt shared with his wife, Josephine, Wyatt’s secretary John H. Flood Jr. captured every word.

For nearly 100 years, those shorthand notes—along with an early typed manuscript of Earp’s biography and photos of the last years of the Earps’ lives—have been in private hands.

Now the public can become a fly-on-the-wall to Wyatt’s version of his days in Arizona, Kansas and Colorado, thanks to a donation to the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park by Eric Weider, former owner and publisher of Wild West magazine.

“This is as close as you can get to talking to Wyatt Earp, and hopefully will contribute to the knowledge of the West,” Weider says.

That “coming home” is thanks to two persuasive Arizonans. First, Gordon Anderson, owner of Tombstone’s Larian Motel, was dismayed to learn Weider intended to donate the collection to Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and asked that the courthouse be considered. Weider was lukewarm to the idea until he talked with Arizona State Parks and Trails Curator Joanne Brace.

“I was really impressed with her enthusiasm. And she was so responsive, she got me to rethink my plan,” Weider says.

Thrilled with that decision, Brace says, “This is one of, if not the most, significant item ever given to Arizona State Parks and Trails. Everyone who’s interested in Wyatt Earp will find their way to Tombstone to see this display.”

The location is particularly significant, since Wyatt watched the two-story Victorian-style courthouse being built. He and his brothers arrived in Tombstone in 1879 and left in the spring of 1882, as the courthouse was under construction.

The collection includes Wyatt’s description of his move from Kansas to Tombstone, and his decision to abandon law enforcement work: “So I purchased a Concord coach, two wagons and sixteen head of horses and started for Arizona for the purpose of starting a stage line. ”

Arizona is calling the donation the Josephine Earp Collection because it includes 33 of her handwritten letters—in her “messy handwriting,” as Weider puts it—including one expressing her grief when Wyatt died at the age of 80, on January 13, 1929: “I am telling you Mr. Flood I am sick grieving over my husband and after this is all over and I have my property all fixed up, I really don’t care what happens to me as I have lost my best friend. ”

Weider stipulated the collection be available to the public. “We know the legend,” he says, “but this is a look at the real people.”

Jana Bommersbach has earned recognition as Arizona’s Journalist of the Year and won an Emmy and two Lifetime Achievement Awards. She cowrote the Emmy-winning Outrageous Arizona and has written two true crime books, a children’s book and the historical novel Cattle Kate.

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New lawman Wyatt Earp tries to figure out who killed a prostitute in John Shirley’s&hellip

August 15, 1873. Ellsworth, Kansas. Gunmen Ben and Billy Thompson get into a confrontation that&hellip

Arizona’s Journalist of the Year, Jana Bommersbach has won an Emmy and two Lifetime Achievement Awards. She also cowrote and appeared on the Emmy-winning Outrageous Arizona and has written two true crime books, a children’s book and the historical novel Cattle Kate.


Watch the video: Tombstone 1993. Wyatt Earp moved to Tombstone with his brothers Morgan and Virgil Earp (July 2022).


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