Death of Wyatt Earp
Death of Wyatt Earp
After a life of wandering the frontier as a lawman, businessman, and gambler, Wyatt Earp died on January 13, 1929.
The third of five sons, Wyatt Earp was born on March 19, 1848 in Monmouth, Illinois. His father was often restless and frequently moved his family throughout the unsettled American West, hoping to strike it rich. Wyatt had this same restless spirit that led him to wander the frontier for most of his life.
Earp was 13 when the Civil War broke out. He anxiously wanted to leave his family home to join his older brothers in the Union Army. However, every time he ran away, Earp was caught and returned home before he could join a battle. Earp was finally able to leave his family at the age of 17, when he took a job hauling freight. He then worked grading track for the Union Pacific Railroad. It was also during this time that he learned to box and began a life-long love of gambling.
In 1869, Earp moved closer to his family, then living in Lamar, Missouri. After replacing his father as constable, Earp married Urilla Sutherland who became pregnant shortly after. However, she contracted typhus and died with their unborn baby. Earp was devastated by the loss and returned to a life of aimless wandering. He spent much of the next new years frequenting saloons and brothels and working as a strongman.
Earp then moved to Wichita, Kansas, where his brother Virgil owned a brothel. While there, Earp worked as a part-time police officer, rounding up criminals. It was an exciting job that earned him a small amount of press, both of which appealed to Earp. He enjoyed it so much that the next job he took was as city marshal of Dodge City, Kansas.
In spite of his newfound success as a lawmaker, Earp’s restlessness and desire to search for riches returned. In 1879, he and his brothers Virgil and Morgan moved to Tombstone, Arizona hoping to find silver. When their efforts proved fruitless, Earp returned once again to law work.
In 1881, Earp was tasked with finding a group of cowboys that had robbed a stagecoach. To improve his chances of finding them, Earp struck a deal with a local rancher – Ike Clanton. However, Clanton soon became paranoid that others would find out about their deal. He turned on Earp, announcing that he would kill one of the brothers.
Then, on October 26, 1881, the three Earp brothers, as well as their friend Doc Holliday, met Clanton and three others at the O.K. Corral. In just 30 seconds, one of the world’s most famous gunfights was over. After the smoke cleared, all three of Clanton’s men were dead and all of Wyatt’s men were wounded. He was the only one to leave the gunfight unscathed. Clanton later went on a rampage, shooting Virgil and killing Morgan. With the death of his brother, Wyatt set out for revenge. Though he never caught Ike, he and his posse launched a killing spree that was both praised and condemned for taking on the outlaw culture of the West.
In the coming years, the West became more settled and civilized. Earp found a new companion, who joined him in running saloons in California and Alaska. Earp finally settled in Los Angeles, where he became overly concerned with his legacy. He hoped for a movie to be made about his life, but didn’t see it happen by the time he died on January 13, 1929. Two years later, Stuart Lake published a greatly-embellished biography of Earp that made him a Western hero. That book was turned into a movie in 1934, and was the first of several silver screen depictions of Earp.
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16 responses to "Death of Wyatt Earp"
16 thoughts on “Death of Wyatt Earp”
The rating I submitted was incorrect. I did not know how to rate and hit the wrong star. I wanted to rate the article with a 5 star not a 1.
Thanks for letting us know!
All ways a fascinating story about our western culture keep up the great history lessons.
Very interesting article. Sounds like a very involved and exciting life he lived.
Great article as always. However, you forgot to mention about what happened with the stamp you showed in the beginning of the article. How they printed the wrong brother’s picture in an error sheet and had to reissue the sheet with the correct photo of Wyatt Earp. Great article, though.
The error in the Legends of the West sheet was the incorrect identification the Pickett picture which was identified as Bill Pickett but was a picture of his brother Ben. the sheet was corrected and re-issued. there was no problem with the Earp picture
Don’t forget there was a TV series about him in the late 50s starring Hugh O’Brien. That is when I first heard about him.
Always like your history lessons. Especially the high profile western ones. Keep up the good work
So much for Hugh O’Brian’s role as the marshal. And Hollywood’s magic spin. All-in-all a great piece of journalism and facts that out-distanced the Legend of Whatte Earp
Pardon my spelling
WOW! The “Wild West” comes alive. Thanks for this most interesting portrayal of a real lawman.
“My Darling Clementine” was about Earp and Henry Fonda played Wyatt. Great movie.
Continued work in producing excellent history.
Have not seen Wyatt Earp played by the actors mentioned above, but thought Kevin Costner did a good job in his portrayal of Earp.
I wanted to click 5 also but may have blown it. Stupid touch screen!
Good job Mystic. A nice portrayal of a famous Western Lawman.