Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp is a name heard often in Tombstone AZ. He's well known now from his law-man days, and that's mostly from movies, and the O.K. Corral Gunfight. That's today what the name Wyatt B. S. Earp is most famous for!

So, who was the real man?

  1. Was it Doc Holliday?

Affiliate Products - On our pages we recommend some items we use & love. Or there are links to items we've researched as helpful or have value. If you buy an item through one of those links, we get a small commission. There is no added cost to you. To learn more, please see our Disclosure Page. Thank you for any purchases.

the Early Days

Wyatt's Childhood

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born on March 19, 1848 in Monmouth, IL. So he's not just a movie legend, he was a real person! But he did become legendary.

His father, Nicholas, named him after his Captain in the Mexican-American War. His father's ancestor, Thomas Earp, was an Irish immigrant in the 1700s.

Wyatt Earp Siblings
His Sisters & Brothers

His father, and mother Virginia, already had three sons and a daughter in their care. Newton, the eldest born in 1837. Newton was a son by Wyatt's father's deceased first wife: Abigail Storm. James, the next oldest boy, 7 years Wyatt's senior. Virgil was 5 years older. Martha, his older sister, was 3 years old when Wyatt was born.

Wyatt Earp with his motherWyatt with his Mother, Virgina
Wyatt Earp's parentsMother & Father of Wyatt Earp

      A Patriot T

In 1850 the family moved to Iowa and began farming. Morgan was born there in 1851, Warren in 1855. Then another daughter, Adelia, in 1861. Sadly, Wyatt's sister Martha died there in 1856.

Teenage Years

When Wyatt was 13 years old the Civil War began. Newton, James and Virgil joined the Union Army. Their father was busy supporting the Union effort. Wyatt, Morgan and Warren had to take on most farming responsibilities. Although Wyatt was too young, tried joining the fight with his older brothers. He ran away to enlist a few times, but his father always returned him to the farm.

Nicholas Earp again relocated his family in 1864. They trekked West with a wagon-train group. Wyatt helped defend their band from native attack on a few occasions. Eventually settling in San Bernardino California on December 17th.

At age 16, Wyatt started working. He helped brother Virgil on the Banning Stagecoach line. The following year he left home, working for various freight operations.

Another job was with the Union Pacific Railroad, moving rail supplies. During off-hours he learning boxing skills and gambled. In those environments, he gathered abilities that served him later.

Wyatt Earp Enters Adulthood

His boxing knowledge got him involved in refereeing matches. At only 21 years of age, on July 4, 1869, Wyatt officiated a match in Cheyenne Wyoming. 3000 viewers came to see the fight.

Novice contestant John Shanssey, challenged professional fighter, Mike Donovan. (Later Shanssey became mayor of Yuma Arizona.)

Judge Wyatt and brother Virgil were bookies for bets on the fight. Donovan won, Shanssey beaten badly. Shanssey and Wyatt struck up a friendship. Later in life they reunited in Fort Griffin, Texas.

Shanssey there introduced Wyatt to John Holliday: Doc Holliday. (Who became Wyatt's good friend. More on that to come!)

Old time Boxing match example
Solo Build It! Case Studies

Wyatt's parents had moved again. Now to a home in Lamar Missouri, near Nicholas's brother. Nicholas Earp became the town Constable. Wyatt decided to return to his parents' home, moving to Lamar later in 1869. Soon afterwards, he met and courted Urilla Sutherland. 

Entering 1870, Wyatt's father resigned as Constable. He was a busy man with a grocery, a restaurant, and a small farm. Plus Nicholas was the Justice of the Peace!

Wyatt was appointed constable in his place. Lamar citizens were satisfied with this move. One expressed that outlaws should now be on guard and stay away.

Wyatt Earp's Wife - His Only Marriage

Urilla Sutherland Earp photograph in the 1860sUrilla Sutherland Earp - Wyatt's Only Documented Legal Wife

With this security, Wyatt Earp was probably confident in asking for Urilla's hand. They were married on January 10, 1870. Wyatt was 22, Urilla 20 or 21. Wyatt's father presided over the ceremony. The couple had a home at the edge of town. They anticipated a family: Urilla was immediately pregnant.

Urilla was due nine months after they wed. When the birth was imminent, so was her death. Unknown cause: typhus or in child-birth, or complications from both. Locate Urilla’s Grave at the cemetery in Milford, Missouri, a few miles northeast of Lamar.

His half-brother Newton ran against Wyatt for the Constable position in November 1870. Wyatt won by 29 votes, but never did fulfill it. Devastated by the loss of his wife and his child, a downhill spin began.

Wyatt Earp - 1st Law Entanglements

Right away Wyatt sold his property. He got into a fight with Urilla's brothers, left Missouri, and wandered around. He hunted buffalo, and met and impressed some men he'd reconnect with later. One of his next stops was Arkansas.

He met with legal problems from his leaving:

  • Two civil lawsuits against him in March 1871 in Lamar through the Barton County court system. 
  1. Both involved funds he was to collect and turn in, but allegedly didn't. He'd left the state. The court couldn't find him. Both cases dismissed. He didn't face charges, so guilt can't be determined.
  • On April 14, 1871 Western Arkansas arraigned Wyatt Earp for horse theft. They accused Edward Kennedy, John Shown and Wyatt, of taking 2 horses from William Keys.
  1. John Shown's wife Anna's statement implicated Wyatt. Indicted on May 15th. Wyatt didn't wait for results, as a bond set for $500. He escaped in late May. A warrant for his arrest was signed, but he never went to trial.
  • Next stop was Peoria Illinois. He worked with brother Morgan as a pimp in bordellos. When arrested and fined in one, he'd go to another.
  1. On February 24, 1872 Wyatt Earp was arrested. The charge was "Keeping and Being Found In A House Of Ill-Fame" in the Bagnio Brothel. On Washington St., near Hamilton. The fine: $44.55. Next he was at the McClellan, then at the floating river brothel: the Beardstown Gunboat. Could be where he met his next long-term love affair, Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock.
  • Afterwards, late 1872, it appears he left Peoria.

Next Stop for Wyatt Earp: Kansas

Wyatt Earp about 1874Wyatt Earp in 1874, Wichita Kansas


At October 1874's end, Wyatt Earp was in Wichita Kansas. M.R. Moser hired him to collect an owed debt. By next year Marshal Mike Meagher appointed him to the town's police department. His work was satisfactory, until the next year's elections.

In April 1876 Wyatt started a fight with William Smith, Marshal Meagher's electoral opponent. Smith made disparaging remarks about Wyatt's brothers. Wyatt was fined. Plus again he had a problem with not turning in collected funds.

Wyatt was subsequently let go as an officer. The incident became common knowledge, to Wyatt's detriment. They didn't want him back.

At the end of May 1876 he was in Dodge City, Kansas.

Dodge City

Dodge City, KansasFront Street in History, Dodge City Kansas in 1876

The Wichita Beacon on May 24, 1876 reported: "Wyatt Earp has been put on the police force at Dodge City." In 1877 a local news report cited Wyatt Earp as a Dodge City Marshal.

Wyatt was in and out of Dodge City for about seven years. While in Dodge City Wyatt became friends with Bat Masterson. He also took part in posse runs.

It's thought during this time he may have gone to Deadwood SD for a time. He rode shotgun for stage-coach companies on occasion.

Wyatt & Doc Holliday

A July 7, 1877 Dodge City Times article shows Wyatt rehired as an officer on his return to town. In January 1878, he's reported in Fort Clark, Texas. On this trip, he's thought to have encountered Doc Holliday. Doc was in Texas around the same time. It's likely they met for the first time in Fort Griffin, while Wyatt was on his way to West Texas.

Wyatt returned to Dodge City in May and rehired as Assistant Marshal. Again he left town in December 1878. Returning to Dodge City next year in May, rehired to the Marshal force.

Doc Holliday had also come to town. For gambling opportunities. Texas cowboys came into town causing a ruckus at the Long Branch Saloon. Two pinned their guns at Wyatt's head: Ed Morrison and Tobe Driskill. From the rear card room, Doc heard the commotion. Appearing behind these cowboys, Doc now had them in his gun-sight. Wyatt took them into custody. From that moment, Doc Holliday became Wyatt Earp's best friend for life.

In September of 1879 Wyatt Earp finally said good-bye to Dodge City, ending up in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Remaining there until he headed for Arizona.

On one last visit to Dodge City, a photo was taken at Conkling Studio. The National Police Gazette published it on 21 July, 1883. He appears in the picture labeled as "The Dodge City Peace Commission."

(Disclosure - This is a link on which we earn a small commission if you buy, with no extra cost to you. We recommend it because...! Learn more here).

Fan of Wyatt Earp? Want some more detail on his life? 

Here are some recommended items - we have an edition of the "Speaks" book (excellent info)... 

  • Have seen American Experience, Michael Murphy narration - well worth it!
  • Costner movie - starts out well, pretty accurate, veers off the truth more-so at the end. Still recommended!

Wyatt Earp in Tombstone Arizona

Wyatt was in Las Vegas NM with Mattie Blaylock. He met up there with his friend Doc Holliday. Doc was with his girlfriend, Mary Katherine Horony-Cummings, better known as Big Nose Kate. Wyatt's brother James and his wife Bessie were also along.

In November 1879, this group headed to Prescott Arizona. Wyatt's older brother Virgil Earp already lived there with his wife Allie. Virgil was Prescott's Constable.

Virgil had accepted the position of Tombstone's Deputy U.S. Marshal. Wyatt & Mattie and James & Bessie joined Virgil & Allie in moving to Tombstone. Virgil talked up mining town opportunities there. Doc Holliday remained in Prescott at that time. He joined his friend Wyatt in Tombstone about three months later.

The Earps arrived in Tombstone the first part of December 1879. Wyatt cooperated with his brothers to find ways to earn a living. They filed mining claims, presided over gambling games, tended bar and rode shotgun for stagecoach lines.

Wyatt Earp's common-law wife, Mattie Blaylock"Mattie" Blaylock

With money coming in, Wyatt bought property for a house for himself and Mattie. Read About Their House>


Wyatt occasionally helped Virgil when he tended to law duties. That soon put him on opposite sides of local Ranch-hands Known as Cow-boys. Wyatt became a Tombstone area Deputy Sheriff on July 27, 1880. That caused him further problems. He held the position for about 4 months. But upped His Earnings>

Wyatt Earp signed a Tombstone AT city licenseWyatt Earp Collected City License Taxes as Part of his Law Responsibility

What's Wyatt Most Famous For? - Today!

Tombstone Arizona in 1881Tombstone 1881 - C.S. Fly: Photographer

Wyatt's law details and entanglements led to the famous shootout: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone split over backing the Earps and Doc Holliday. Just because they were lawmen, didn't mean the citizens thought they were right. The Earps and Doc gunned down three Cow-boys, killing them.

Wyatt Earp: One of the Fastest Draws in the West?

Wyatt probably used a Smith & Wesson Model 3 gun during the gunfight. But Wyatt never had a reputation as one of "the fastest draws in the West" or anything like that! In subsequent years he never wanted to talk about his time in Tombstone, or tell the gunfight story. His interests focused on gaming, horse-racing, and traveling around, taking advantage of the next best opportunity. But here's the Details of the Battle>

The Cow-boy faction retaliated soon afterwards. Virgil was hit by gunfire and maimed. A few months later, brother Morgan Earp was killed while playing pool.

Wyatt Earp didn't let these events go unanswered. He gathered a posse, beginning what's called the Earp Vendetta Ride. He took the train transporting Morgan's body to California for burial. At the Tucson stop, he tracked down alleged murderer, Frank Stilwell. He shot him dead among railroad cars in the rail yard.

The next day a warrant was out for the arrest of Wyatt Earp for the Stilwell killing.

Wyatt Earp Gun example: Colt .45 single-action revolver


Wyatt returned to Cochise County, enlisting six men, including brother Warren. They hunted down others Wyatt felt were in on Morgan's murder. For two weeks they roamed Southeast Arizona. A coroner's report faulted them with killing Curly Bill, Indian Charlie, and Johnny Barnes.

That report and years of rumor promoted the story that Wyatt killed Curly Bill during this Vendetta Ride. It's possible, but was never proven. Wyatt later promoted that version. Another tale circulated that the posse found Johnny Ringo, and Wyatt killed him. That is highly unlikely.

During the Vendetta Ride, the posse ended up at John Hooker's Sierra Bonita Ranch, North of Wilcox Arizona. They got fresh horses and meals before moving on to New Mexico. To avoid arrest, Wyatt then went to Colorado, finally ending up in California.

Wyatt Earp Moves On

Wyatt Earp's true love - Josephine MarcusJosephine Sarah Marcus - 1881

While still in Tombstone, Wyatt Earp became acquainted with Josephine Marcus. She'd been associated with his political rival, John Behan.

It's difficult to track when Wyatt and Josephine's relationship began. Josephine claimed they got married, but there's no documentation anywhere. She used the names Mrs. J. C. Earp or Mrs. Wyatt Earp in March 1882 during California traveling. There's evidence she joined Wyatt when he settled in Albuquerque in early 1882.

They stayed together from then until Wyatt's death. She always protected his interests. From her own viewpoint. Even if she bent the truth and both had bad habits. Still they stayed together!

Wyatt Earp - From Idaho to California

After leaving Arizona, Wyatt Earp moved around:

  • July 30, 1882 he's reported as City Marshal in Gunnison, Colorado.
Wyatt Earp City Marshall in Gunnison COIs Wyatt a Gunnison CO Marshall?
  • May 31, 1883 he temporarily returned to Dodge City to help friend Luke Short.
  • In 1884 Wyatt & Josie were in Eagle City Idaho. It's booming with gold & silver mining. They opened The White Elephant Saloon & Dance Hall. And opened mining claims. Wyatt gets appointed as Deputy Sheriff. In that role he's involved in mine claim and real estate controversy.
  • April 1885 Wyatt was in Chewelah Washington. Allegedly joining a group of claim-jumpers!
  • In 1887 the couple are living in the Brooklyn Hotel, San Diego, California. Wyatt bought gambling saloons: the Oyster Bar at 837 5th Ave., and three others. He ran his own racehorse and judged boxing matches.
  • In 1891 Wyatt and Josie moved to San Francisco, nearer her sister Henrietta. Wyatt Earp's finances were failing in San Diego real estate. He sold those properties and his racehorse. In San Francisco they lived at 145 Ellis St., 720 McAllister St., 514A Seventh Ave. and 1004 Golden Gate Ave.

Wyatt's Notorious Boxing Judgment

Wyatt Earp - The Bad Man RefereeThe "Bad Man" Referee

The Bob Fitzsimmons vs Tom Sharkey heavyweight title fight was set for December 2, 1896. Wyatt had prior boxing experience. They chose him as referee for this San Francisco match. The whole country was in anticipation!

Fitzsimmons was favored. Through 7 rounds, he had the upper hand. But in the eighth round Wyatt saw Sharkey take a hit. He rolled on the mat, grabbing his groin. Wyatt ruled it a foul: a punch below the belt. He stopped the fight and awarded the fight to Sharkey, per the foul.

Almost all the 15,000 fans in the arena booed, were up in arms! Most bet on Fitzsimmons to win. They thought it was fixed. They figured Wyatt had bet on Sharkey. And with the odds so high against him, Wyatt made out! News reports across the country denounced Wyatt Earp as a crooked judge. They brought up his prior "bad" reputation.

Fitzsimmons took the issue to court. The fight was ruled illegal. The court wouldn't rule on a winner. Sharkey kept the prize money. Wyatt Earp had another stain on his name. In fact, this publicity gave his name more notoriety than anything else had before.

At the end of December, Wyatt sold his remaining horse-racing interests. Then he and Josie left California and went to Yuma AZ - but not for long.

Fitzsimmons-Sharkey heavyweight fight
Wyatt Earp's controversial judge on Sharkey vs. Fitzsimmons prize fightThe Heavyweight Boxing Match Continued to Make the News: Los Angeles Herald, Sunday - Sept. 12, 1897 - Pg. 17

Wyatt Earp in the Frozen North

The Rosalie - Wyatt Earp GoldrushThe Rosalie - Wyatt & Josie Aboard

On August 5, 1897, Wyatt and Josie boarded a Northbound steamship. The Alaska/Yukon gold rush was on. They headed for Dawson in the Yukon to take advantage! Planning to open a gambling house.

But that October they returned to San Francisco. On their way, they stayed in Wrangell Alaska. Wyatt was recruited as their city Marshal. He stayed in the position for only 10 days.

They stuck with their original plan, starting for Dawson. But when they got to Rampart Alaska, everything was too frozen to move on. They rented a cabin there until the Spring 1899. Then went to St. Michael on Alaska's West coast. There Wyatt managed a small store.

Wyatt felt the Yukon gold rush was dwindling. In September 1899 he & Josie set out for Nome instead. Wyatt partnered with Charles E. Hoxie. Together they built the Dexter Saloon. The upstairs had a brothel.

Nome's population was about 20,000. Wyatt's new acquaintances there included Jack London, playwright Wilson Mizner, and boxing promoter Tex Rickard. Wyatt had troubles with the local law, getting arrested twice.

Wyatt proved restless again. He left for Seattle late in 1899. He planned to open a gaming joint. Gambling was illegal in Washington. John Considine had a "blind-eye" agreement with the Police Chief. Considine owned many gambling clubs, and wasn't happy with Earp's business plan. Wyatt teamed with Seattle local, Thomas Urguhart. They opened a saloon & gambling hall: the Union Club.

It was quite successful, even with Considine's harrassment. But Washington state filed charges in the Spring of 1900. Their property was confiscated and destroyed.

Where is Wyatt Earp's Gun?

Wyatt and Josie left Washington state and then within a few months, went back to Alaska. Along the way, they stopped in Juneau, before returning to Nome.

Wyatt Earp & John ClumNome Alaska, 1900 - L to R: Wyatt Earp, John Clum

They stayed in Alaska until the end of 1901.

But that gun he'd left behind in Alaska, was it his weapon from the O.K. Corral shoot-out? Difficult to say. It's even difficult to verify if the gun displayed in Juneau was his.

A firearm in the Arizona History Museum, near Tucson's University of Arizona campus, also has a claim as Wyatt Earp's. That's also difficult to authenticate. Tombstone historian Ben Traywick, plus other old west historians, are skeptical. They have their researched reasons.5

Where is Wyatt Earp's Gun? Is this it?Said to be Wyatt Earp's Gun - Photo Credit: Zach Pleeter

Back to the Lower 48

In December of 1901, Wyatt Earp and Josephine Marcus left Alaska's Frozen North. They returned to California, bringing all the money they'd made. Quite a huge sum. They checked into the Hollenbeck Hotel in Los Angeles on December 13, 1901.

They stayed in their LA hotel for a few months. Then Wyatt and Josie headed for Nevada. 

Wyatt Earp in Boom Town Nevada

Gold and silver was booming in Tonopah. Arriving in February 1902, Wyatt and Josie opened the Northern Saloon. Marshal J.F. Emmitt appointed Wyatt Deputy U.S. Marshal there.

Tonopah opportunities slowed down. The couple moved again.

Wyatt Earp's Northern Saloon, Tonopah, NevadaNorthern Saloon, Tonopah NV

Their choice: Goldfield Nevada, where brother Virgil lived. Wyatt's friend Tex Rickard was there, with a namesake Northern Saloon. He hired Wyatt as gambling room pit boss.

Wyatt Earp & California Mines

During 1906 Wyatt did some gold mining himself. He had claims throughout the California desert. From 1911 until health problems began, the couple mined.

Returning to Los Angeles in the summertime. They rented small places, breaking from desert heat.

Wyatt Earp & Josephine Marcus in Vidal, CaliforniaWyatt & Josie, 1906 - Their Vidal, California Mining Operation

It appears Wyatt scrambled for ways to earn money. Newsy items surfaced reporting his choices, putting him over the line of lawful methods.

About this time he did some "off the books" work for the Los Angeles Police Department. This shady dealing again got him in hot water. In October 1910 Wyatt led a posse protecting a mining company's surveyors.

The bankrupted California Trona Company viewed Wyatt's posse as claim jumpers. There was an armed confrontation. Wyatt Earp and others involved were arrested for contempt of court.

Wyatt & Josie's Vidal California Home

In 1925, Wyatt Earp purchased a small cottage in Vidal California. A small town a bit West of the Colorado River's Arizona border. The only home he and Josie owned together. Wyatt worked the "Happy Days" gold mine there. It was in the Whipple Mountains, a little North of town.

Wyatt and Josie were getting older. In all his time after the death of his wife Urilla, and of his unborn child, Wyatt Earp never had children.

Hollywood Wyatt

During his time in Los Angeles, Wyatt became acquainted with movie makers. In 1915 Director Allan Dwan invited him to the set of "The Half Breed." He mingled with actors, producers and directors. Wyatt commented on realism he felt was needed.

In 1916, Jack London came to Hollywood and brought him to a movie set. They went to dinner. Charlie Chaplin stopped by their table.

On movie set visits, he met cowboy actors William S. Hart and Tom Mix. They became friends with Wyatt. He'd visited silent movie sets when John Ford first worked in props. They talked about Wyatt's Tombstone experiences. Later, Earp visited Ford's movie sets when Ford was directing.

That's when he met John Wayne. Wayne said he based many character personas on talks with Wyatt Earp. Wayne said "There's a guy that actually did what I'm trying to do."3 

Wyatt encouraged friend, actor William Hart, to get a movie going based on his life. Wyatt wanted a film to reflect well on him. He wished to set the record "right" on what he described as "a public which has always been fed lies about me."1 Hart wrote Wyatt to find a biographer to write a book first.

Telling the Story of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt talked friend, John Flood, into writing his biography. They began work in 1925. Wyatt talked, while John wrote. All the while, Josie was there for input.

Josie insisted Flood's writing make Wyatt look just about a saint. For instance, she wanted him portrayed a non-drinker. That's untrue. Even while in Alaska police arrested him once for drunken and disorderly conduct. She thought Flood should add the word "CRACK" for liveliness. It's there 109 times!

When completed the following year, they submitted it to publishers. One rejected it with harsh criticism: pompous, stilted, florid.2  

Don't Miss Out - Stay in the Loop! Subscribe to Tombstone Tips Today!!


With Sign Up - Wyatt Earp in Dodge City Timeline & Tombstone Photo Album for Download

Wyatt's friend, William Hart, tried to help. He submitted it to every possible publisher. Rejections continued. Even trying the Saturday Evening Post, as a periodical. Nobody wanted it. 

But a few copies were made and purchased. The original stayed with Josephine. Placed with the Ford County Historical Society after her death.

In 1931 another Wyatt Earp biographical was posthumously published. Written by Stuart Lake, entitled Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. Lake interviewed Wyatt eight times. He also had discussions and correspondence with Josephine.

Josie wanted the book to reflect their lives her own way. Lake didn't cooperate with her.

The book is regarded as historical fiction, though. Lake uses made-up dialogue and doesn't mention other wives. He glorifies all Wyatt's actions, as only a hero.

It's written in the style of the day. It is kind of a good read!

How Did Wyatt Earp Die?

With Wyatt's varied, and occasionally harried and dangerous, hair-raising career - did you think he'd have an adventure filled death? But it wasn't that way. He lived a pretty long life, compared to many contemporaries. It was a substantially quiet, move-along into the "after-life" that he was likely relatively prepared for.

Wyatt Earp passed away in their rented Los Angeles cottage at 4004 West 17th Street. He was 80 years old upon taking his last breath, the morning of January 13, 1929. The Arizona Daily Star's January 14th death notice stated his health was in decline for some time.

All his brothers had already passed on. Of the Earp siblings, only sister Adelia survived him. And no children. Grace Spolodori and her sister Alma made funeral arrangements. They were daughters of his old Dodge City friend Charlie Walsh.

Josephine didn't help with arrangements, or attend the funeral. She requested Wyatt be cremated. She prepared a Jewish cemetery burial site, in The Hills of Eternity in Colma, California. She secretly took his ashes there for interment in her family plot.

The funeral was at the First Congregational Church, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. The pallbearers included John Clum (Tombstone mayor & Epitaph editor), Tom Mix, William S. Hart, George W. Parsons (Tombstone diarist), and William Mizner (Alaska friend).

Wyatt Earp's friend from Tombstone, G.W. ParsonsWyatt's Friend from Tombstone AZ - Pallbearer George W. Parsons

The Wyatt Earp Legacy

During his later adult lifetime, Wyatt Earp often felt he didn't get a fair shake from the public. He especially felt his actions weren't portrayed accurately.

There's definitely truth to that. Some books written have vast inaccuracies about Wyatt's life, and that of his brothers. Even newspaper articles sometimes have fantasized stories of his life.

An LA Times article from March 1922 was entitled "Lurid Trails Are Left by Olden-Day Bandits."4 It compared the Earp brothers in Tombstone to outlaw bank and train robbing gangs, such as the Daltons. Many facts in the story were wrong.

Josephine, and Wyatt's friend William Hart, were both outraged. They wrote letters to the Times, demanding they print a retraction of the story's errors. The newspaper complied.

Wyatt Earp defended by William S. HartWyatt's Friend's Story is Told

It seems many take the extreme views. Like Josephine, they remember him as a law-abiding, heroic, saintly champion of the honest citizen. Others view him as a scoundrel who preyed on others to benefit himself, while trying to look innocent. There's probably some middle ground there that's the accurate assessment!

Whichever viewpoint you believe, reading about his life helps you make a judgment. Yet, there are many little details that shed light on his personality. The trouble is, sorting out fact from fiction - opinion from truth.

Visit the places he frequented. Watch movies about him, even those based on fact. Or entertain yourself, with those of fiction. Read books about his life.

Put yourself in his shoes. That may help!


1 Murray, Tom G. (June 1968). "Wyatt Earp's Letters to Bill Hart". SCVHistory.com. True West. Retrieved September 26, 2017.

2 historynet.com/john-flood-and-wyatt-earp.htm. Wild West Magazine (January 29, 2008). Retrieved September 27, 2017

3 Hughes, Johnny (2012). Famous gamblers, poker history, and Texas stories. Iuniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-4215-6

4 Boyer, Glenn G. (Autumn 1976). "Postscripts to Historical Fiction about Wyatt Earp in Tombstone". Arizona and the West. 18 (3): 217–236. JSTOR 40168503

5 Pleeter, Z. (2015, Oct. 8). What became of Wyatt Earp's guns? University of Arizona School of Journalism: Arizona Sonora News Service. Retrieved from arizonasonoranewsservice.com/mystery-wyatt-earps-guns/

General References for any without notations:

  • Barra, A. (1998). Inventing Wyatt Earp: His life and many legends. ISBN: 0-7867-0562-0. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.
  • Gatto, S. (n.d.). Wyatt Earp History Page. Retrieved from www.wyattearp.net/
  • "Earp Historical Timeline". Retrieved from  web.archive.org/web/20080211122451/http://www.gv.net:80/~syd/WyattSEarp/history.html

See if These might Be Interesting to You:

Local Tombstone Arizona
  • We Know Our Home
  • We Can Help You Discover its Best!
Protected by Copyscape