Mattie Had a Strong Beginning
Her home town was Monroe Township Iowa, where she was born in Jan. 1850, the 3rd child. Named Celia Ann Blaylock, she went to church & school, with typical parental discipline of the time. She lived on the family farm, had local friends & activities. But was apparently restless there.
In 1868 she ran away from home at age 16, taking her 13 year old sister Sarah, with her. They traveled West, thinking they would find some work. An unlikely outcome for a young woman then. But there is no evidence for where they were or what they did.
The Runaways’ Discoveries
By 1870, Sarah had returned home. Circumstances indicate she was taken back in, but regarded shamefully. She eventually married, in 1878. Betrothed to a widower 26 years older. In her he gained an heir – a son, Hiram Oswald Marquis.
Celia Ann didn’t return home with Sarah. She appeared next in 1871. She had a professional photo taken in Fort Scott, Kansas. Here there’s evidence by 1872 she’s earning a living as a “working girl.”
Celia Ann began using the name “Mattie.” Probably to avoid connecting her with her true family. An interesting note for her name choice, is that it was a popular alias for Old West soiled doves.
Life With Wyatt Begins
There’s a possibility she met Wyatt Earp in Fort Scott. But since Wyatt was in Dodge City, we can figure they knew each other & were together by the time both were there.
There isn’t a lot of detail on her life from then until she arrived in Tombstone Arizona.
In 1880 she came to Tombstone with Wyatt. He arrived in early December 1879. The U.S. Census of 1880 states Mattie Blaylock is the wife of Wyatt. It seems they called each other husband & wife. There is no documentation a legal marriage ever took place, though.
Problems in the Relationship
Some say Wyatt hooked up with Mattie as a convenience. Having someone in the home to take care of typically household needs. What is evident is she’d not been mentioned as being with Wyatt by contemporary 1st-hand documentation, such as by George Parsons & John Clum. Yet Wyatt did name a mine after her: The Mattie Blaylock.
Mattie began using laudanum. For chronic headaches. That’s the strong pain-killer of the Old West. The major ingredient was opium. But also contained morphine & codeine – all opioids. So it was a very strong liquid. And addictive.
Would Wyatt be supportive, or tire of seeing the effects? Maybe the Tombstone Movie might reflect the truth of the situation? Can we ever really know?
Post OK Corral Gunfight
Wyatt was on the run & left Arizona because of an arrest warrant. He sent Mattie with the other Earp women to Colton California, his parents’ home. It seems Mattie was waiting there to hear from Wyatt. Probably she hoped to be sent for, & resume their relationship. It never happened.
Sometime while Wyatt was in Tombstone, even with Mattie there, Wyatt met Josephine Marcus. It was instant attraction. When they began getting together isn’t clear. But Wyatt did meet up with Josie soon after leaving Arizona.
Mattie realized Wyatt wasn’t going to get in touch. Dejected, she left Colton & returned to Arizona. Settling in Pinal City, where she & Wyatt had stopped while traveling to Tombstone.
Photo Credit: Marine69-71 Own Work
The Sad End to a Sad Story
The population of Pinal City had diminished. She found it difficult plying her old courtesan trade. Today it’s considered a Ghost Town.
Mattie struggled there for about 4 years. She fell further & further into addiction, along with alcohol abuse. On July 3, 1888 she took so much laudanum, it depressed the respiratory control centers of her brain. She stopped breathing & died. At only 38 years old. The Death Certificate states 40 years old.
The coroner ruled it a suicide. The Death Certificate also called it a suicide.
The Death Inquisition filed July 21st confirmed the circumstances.
The photos she had taken during her life reflect someone who seemed to take pride in her appearance. It’s sad that her life deteriorated so.
There are often historical events that make one want to know the true facts for people who roamed the Tombstone area & the Old West. What was their true story? And what happened to them – do we even know? Can we discover the authentic history?
And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.
We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, seeing areas where they spent time – back in the 1800s.
Let us know if you’ll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments – & how to credit you.)