I grew up on old Wild West movies and never lost the love of the time and the history. Tombstone Arizona brings it all back.
Wyatt Earp and his family
Wyatt Earp wasn't the oldest, but he held a presence in the family, maybe because he was out spoken. And even though his family with very close and most were with him in Tombstone Arizona, you only hear about Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan.
The Earp's were never known for staying in one place to long. His father Nicholas moved the family quite a bit and so, the children grew up the same way. Never staying in one place to long and always looking for that next great deal that would make them money.
In, 1860, Nicholas and his 2nd wife, Virginia were living in Pella, Iowa with seven of their children. Wyatt included, at the age of 12.
By 1870, the Earps were living in Lamar, MO. Nicholas and his wife Virginia along with three of their children Warren, Adelia and Virgil were living next door the Newton Earp his wife Nancy and their daughter Effie who was about 2 months old. The other next door neighbor was Wyatt Earp who was 22 years old at the time and had just married the love of his life, Urilla. They had a child that died and was buried in Lamar, MO, and shortly their after Urilla herself passed away.
Wyatt left Missouri and in March of 1875, he was living with his brother James C. Earp in Wichita Kansas. By 1880, Wyatt and his brothers; Virgil and James along with their wives had moved to Tombstone Village, Arizona. Virgil and Wyatt were farming and James was a saloon keeper. And for some reason had cancelled their voter registrations there in Arizona. And by 1881, Warren and Morgan had joined the Earp brothers in Tombstone. Wyatt was now a saloon owner, Virgil was the Deputy US Marshall, Morgan and Warren worked with them in the saloon.
It was in Arizona, that Wyatt met the woman he'd spend the rest of his life with. Since the death of his 1st wife, he'd never fallen so hard as he did for actress Josephine Marcus. They would spend the rest of their life traveling and in Earp family fashion, following the money. From gold, silver and copper mining to earn a living. Eventually they settled in California where their remaining family member were.
Things we don't hear about the Earp's
- Wyatt died on January 15, 1929 and outlived his brothers. During an assassination attempt in Tombstone Arizona, a bullet grazed past the side of his head and into the wall.
- Morgan was assassinated on March 18. 1882. His wife was in California with his parents at the time and his body was escorted by friends of the Earp's to California, for burial. He was shot to the left of his spinal column and the bullet punctured several vital organs causing him to hemorrhage and bleed to death.
- Warren Baxter Earp, was actually a part of the Posse that went after the Cowboys with Wyatt. Warren died on July 6, 1900 in Wilcox, AZ. He had a reputation as a bully and was killed during an argument.
- Virgil Earp, fought in the civil war from beginning to end. While he was away fighting, his wife an daughter were told that he'd been killed. They moved away with her family and when he returned, they were gone. It wasn't until years later that he was reunited with his daughter. An assassination attempt on his life in Tombstone Arizona, the coward shot him from behind with a shot gun, 3 times shattering his left arm and leaving him permanently crippled. Virgil died on October 19,1905.
- Newton Jasper Earp, was the oldest and half brother of Wyatt Earp. His mother was Abigail Storm, the first wife of Nicholas Earp. He fought in the civil war along side his brothers, Virgil and James. Newton settled down and became a carpenter in California until his death, Dec. 18, 1928.
- James C. Earp, was a civil war soldier that fought from the beginning of the war until it ended. He fought along side his brothers Newton and Virgil. After 2 months, he was badly wounded and sent home. While he was a saloon keeper in Arizona in 1879 with his brothers, Virgil and Wyatt. Like his brothers, he served as a Deputy Marshal in Dodge City before moving to Arizona. He died on Jan. 25, 1926 of natural causes.
The Brothers Earp changed the history of Tombstone
While Tombstone Arizona was a mining town of the 1880's with the saloons and opium dens to relax the miners after a long days work. It would soon be remembered for the notorious gunfight at the O.K. Coral
In time the town would have most likely gone by the way of most mining towns of the day. However, the arrival of the Earp brothers would make Tombstone a famous town that many Americans visit even today.
As they say, history depicts what the historian wants it to be, but facts have shown that while the Earps were elevated to almost a "hero worship" stance. The Earps were by their own right, ruthless swindlers of the era. The life style they chose lead to early deaths for most of them.
The violence of the mining town increased with the help of cattle ranchers whose workers were less than savory. There was a distaste for each other almost instantly, as the Earps arrived in town and "interfered" with the way the Clanton and McLaury's ran things.
The movies have taken poetic license with the Earp family and their lives and the town of Tombstone. Still it pretty much follows much of the same history. With a couple of exceptions that I came across by fate during my research. I found that the census showed more of his family living there at the time and the Earps were not as prosperous as we were lead to believe. Their story just makes them bigger than life.
Fight at the O.K. Corrall
History has told us of the Fight at the O.K. Corral and how the Earps were to disarm the Clanton's and McClaury's, so it would only serve the town to have a re-enactment of it daily. It was probably the greatest part of the day, along with Doc Holiday showing the kids how to play faro.
NIGHT TIME ACTIVITY
And of course there couldn't be a mining town without it's "sin". The Bird Cage Saloon and house of ill repute are open to the community to see. The Bird Cage is rather interesting, the curtained balconies where gentlemen callers met their women of the night remain and the gaming tables are still in tact, only you have to be careful around there, it's haunted. This building has been the subject of a show on the mystery and science fiction channels.
Many of the old buildings have been turned in to shops where you can find anything from period clothing to jewlery from the area. And if you wear "Stetson's" there's a great shop with fantastic prices, so much so, we bought two to bring home.
If you can make it all the way to Tombstone Arizona, you can treat yourself to a buffalo burger and home made fries. The best in town, actually the only place in town. The O.K. Cafe is small, yet cozy and great prices.
Soon The Grave Yard Fills
Boothill Grave Yard sits quietly as you pull into town. As you walk the grave yard the wind blows so strong you have to steady yourself, the rest of the town, hot and still. Boothill was spoken of as the "old cemetery" because a new cemetery had been opened. The cemetery has been restored so perfectly, that as you walk the cemetery it seems like these graves are fresh.
Most of the buried were murdered, killed over money, women or both. Some were killed by Indians, but very few died of normal circumstances. Even suicides almost out-numbered the normal circumstances.
The "old man Clanton" met his untimely death at the hands of Mexicans on a cattle drive, while Billy met his maker at the O.K. Corrall.