a piece at a time, now moved rapidly toward a final showdown.
Old Man Clanton was shot and killed by a band of vaqueros during a
rustling attempt below the border; his eldest son
rushed judgments would prove fatal, took the family reins. Also, in the heat of
summer, 1881, a fire swept the business district of
Tombstone and the citizens blamed Marshall Ben Sippy for not controlling the
looting that followed;
the senior deputy, was appointed marshal, a move that antagonized the
Clantons. And, of course, there was Josie who continued to see Wyatt. While she made all effort to remain apart from the bad blood churning
between the factions, the sight of her riled
all over again. Throughout the lazy summer season of 1881, threats against the
Earp Brothers increased.
Bill" Brocius and others of their ilk would often be heard telling a
barroom-full how they were going to send
Wyatt Earp to Boot Hill.
Gunfight at the OK Corral
On Tuesday, October
25th, Ike Clanton spent the day getting drunk, moving from one
saloon to the next, and making threats against the Earps and
Holliday to any who would listen. That night, he made his way to the
Occidental Saloon for a card game with
Doc Holliday, who had heard of the boasts, confronted him. "I heard you’re
going to kill me,
Ike," he said. "Get out your gun and commence."
and an appointed an acting city marshal by
Morgan, also a sworn officer, were present during this
Ike that he would arrest both of them if they continued the
Though boasting violence throughout the day,
was unarmed and finally,
drew Holliday away. But
Clanton followed, promising "to kill you tomorrow when
the others come to town."
Wyatt on the streets, the fired-up
Clanton continued. "Tell your consumptive friend, your
Arizona nightin’gale, he’s a dead man tomorrow!" To which,
Wyatt just turned and replied "Don’t you tangle with Doc
Holliday -- he’ll kill you before you’ve begun."
Ike's parting shot was "Get ready for a showdown!"
26, 1881 was an overcast windy day. The
Earps, in anticipation of trouble, woke early. As
from his hotel window, he saw
Billy Clanton ride into town, accompanied by friend
Billy Claiborne. They met the
McLaury brothers and Ike Clanton on Allen Street. Ike was looking for
Holliday but before he could find him, Virgil and Morgan confronted him. Ike, bracing a shotgun, exchanged words with the two but when
Clanton raised his rifle. Virgil subdued him, impounded his rifle, and dragged him before Justice of
the Peace Wallace, who fined Ike $27.50 for carrying firearms in the city.
Tom McLaury, both hearing what had happened, met at the judge’s door at the
same time, literally bumping into each other. Though
McLaury insulted him and, in return,
Wyatt brought his gun down on
Later that morning, the
cowboys met at Spangenbergs, a gunsmith shop. Then
Frank McLaury rode his horse onto the boardwalk, frightening pedestrians off
its path outside the gunsmith shop.
Wyatt grabbed the reins of the horse, leading it to the streets as
McLaury yelled profanities. After this latest confrontation, the outlaws
retreated in a group around the corner off Allen Street. With all of the
tension, there was bound to be a fight. Several members of the town’s Citizens’
Committee offered their assistance to the
Earp brothers, but thanking
it was his and his brothers’ responsibility as law officers.
John Behan, the County Sheriff, appeared pronouncing, "Ike Clanton and his crew are on Fremont Street talking gun-talk." Evidently,
Ike Clanton, the two
Billy Clanton and
Billy Claiborne were meeting in a vacant lot planning to bushwhack
Doc Holliday, who passed that way every morning.
Virgil, as Chief Marshal, agreed to go down there to break them up, but
Behan should accompany him. Behan only laughed. "Hell, this is your fight, not mine."
the cowboys were surprised when the Earps showed up
Doc was with them. As they made their way to the OK Corral, witnesses said
that the three Earp
brothers were all dressed in black with firm, mean grimaces on their faces while
Doc was nattily clad in grey and was whistling. Where the two forces finally
met was actually 90 yards down an alley from the OK Corral. The actual gunfight
took place off Fremont Street between Fly’s Photo Gallery and Jersey’s Livery
Stable. The Earps
passed by the OK Corral, but cut through the alley where they found the
troublemakers waiting at the other end.
under arrest for attempting to disturb the peace,"
Virgil announced. As senior officer, he displayed only a non-threatening
walking stick, having given his shotgun to Doc to carry. The rustlers tightened and
Doc simultaneously braced for action. "Hold on, I don’t want that!" cried
What happened next was a blur, occurring in about 30
seconds. The shooting started when
Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury cocked their pistols. It is not really known who fired the
first shot, but
Doc's bullet was the first to hit home, tearing through
Frank McLaury's belly and sending McLaury’s own shot wild through
Wyatt's coat-tail. Billy
Clanton fired at
Virgil, but his
shot also went astray when he was hit with Morgan's shot through his rib cage.
Billy Claiborne ran as soon as shots were fired and was already out of
sight. Ike Clanton, too, panicked and threw his gun down, pleading for his
life. "Fight or get out like Claiborne!"
Wyatt yelled and watched
Ike desert his brother
Billy, as he ran towards the door of the photography shop. But,
Ike then withdrew a hidden gun firing one more round towards
Wyatt before disappearing. The sound distracted Morgan, enough so that
Tom McLaury sent a bullet into Morgan's shoulder.
instantly countered, blowing Tom away with blasts from both barrels
of his shotgun. Desperately, wounded and dying,
Billy Clanton fired blindly into the gun smoke encircling him, striking
responded by sending several rounds into
Then it was silent and the townspeople ran from their homes and shops, wagons were to convey wounded
Virgil to their respective homes, and doctors followed.
Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury dead.
Virgil took a shot to the leg and
Morgan suffered a shoulder wound. As
stood, still stunned, Sheriff Behan appeared advising him he was under arrest. The
Doc Holliday were tried for murder but it was determined that the
Earps acted within the law.
Virgil was later terminated as marshal for his role in the
On March 18, 1882, the
cowboy gang struck again while Morgan Earp was playing pool at Campbell and Hatch's
Saloon. A shot was fired from the darkness of the alley striking
in the back. Morgan's body was dressed in one of
Doc Holliday's suits and shipped to the parents in Colton, California
The entire Earp party, including
Morgan's body. However, in Tucson,
Doc Holliday hopped off the train in search of
Frank Stillwell, who supposedly worked in the railroad yards. The train went on to
Spotting Stillwell, Wyatt chased him down the track, filling him full of bullet holes. A Coroner's Jury named Wyatt and Warren Earp,
Doc Holliday, and two other men named "Texas Jack"
Johnson and Sherman McMasters, as those men who had killed
Stillwell and warrants were issued for their arrest.
Earp sought vengeance on the men who shot
and killed Morgan.
Stillwell was just his first step. Along with
and others, Wyatt began what is known as the Earp
Vendetta Ride. Wyatt heard that Pete Spence was at his wood camp in the Dragoons and on March 11, 1882, he and his men quickly headed out, finding not Pete Spence, but Florentino Cruz. The frightened Cruz named all the men who had murdered
himself included. Earp and his men filled Cruz with bullet holes. The Earp
"posse” rode out once again and on March 24, 1882, they ran into
Curly Bill Brocius and eight of his men near Iron Springs. A
gunfight ensued where
Curly Bill was killed and Johnny Barnes
received a wound from which he eventually died.
In just over a year, the
"posse” along with
Doc Holliday eliminated
"Old Man" Clanton,
Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury,
Frank Stilwell, Indian Charlie, Dixie Gray, Florentino Cruz, Johnny Barnes, Jim Crane, Harry Head, Bill Leonard, Joe Hill, Luther
King, Charley Snow, Billy Lang, Zwing Hunt, Billy Grounds and Hank
Swilling. Pete Spence turned himself in to the authorities where he could
"hide” in the penitentiary.
In May, 1882, Wyatt and
Doc left Tombstone, swearing they would never return, but still vowing vengeance on
Clanton, Spence and Swilling if they could ever find them. Riding their horses to Silver City, New Mexico, they sold them, rode a stage to Deming, and boarded a train for Colorado. Josie soon joined
Wyatt in Denver where they were married.
Mattie had traveled with the Earps to California Wyatt's parents, at some point she left them and ended up in Globe, Arizona where she lived a life of prostitution. She told her friends that her husband had destroyed her life when he deserted her. Tragically, she died of a laudanum overdose on July 3, 1888 in Pinal
While in Colorado, Wyatt initially worked as a private investigator and as a driver for Wells Fargo. He and Josie also occasionally prospected in the mountains. Sometimes Bat Masterson would visit the couple and the pair would see
Doc Holliday who had settled down in Leadville, Colorado, when they could.
Wyatt and Josie returned to Dodge City, Kansas in 1883 for a time then he took his new bride on a tour of
Texas and northern Mexico, before they made their way to
In the meantime,
Doc Holliday's health was badly deteriorating and he soon migrated from Leadville to Denver in the winter of 1885. Though he did not improve in Denver, he was able to see his old friend, Wyatt Earp in the late winter of 1886, where they met in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel. Sadie Marcus described the skeletal Holliday as having a continuous cough and standing on "unsteady legs.”
Holliday’s health continued to get worse. As a realist,
Doc was not one to believe in miraculous cures, but hoping that the Yampah hot springs and sulfur vapors might improve his health, he headed for Glenwood Springs, Colorado in May, 1887. Registering at the fashionable Hotel Glenwood, he grew steadily worse, spending his last fifty-seven days in bed at the hotel and was delirious fourteen of them.
On November 8, 1887,
Doc awoke clear-eyed and asked for a glass of whiskey. It was given to him and he drank it down with enjoyment. Then, looking down at his bare feet he said, "This is funny", and died. He always figured he would be killed with his boots on.
Spending several years in California, Wyatt and Josie spent time with the
in San Bernardino, and Josie’s family in San Francisco. While in
California, Wyatt acted as a referee in boxing matches, continued to gamble, and invested in real estate, saloons and a race horse.
In 1897 the gold fever broke in Alaska and the couple headed to Nome where they opened a
during the height of the gold rush. The pair also panned for their own gold
throughout the Yukon, and did very well. They returned to California 1901 with an estimated $80,000. However, their stay was short lived when they heard about the gold strike in Tonopah, Nevada.
Taking up prospecting in earnest, Wyatt staked several claims in the Mojave Desert, where he discovered several veins of gold. Near Vidal, California he discovered copper, where the spent winters in a small cottage.
Spending summers in Los Angeles, he befriended several early Hollywood actors and became an advisor for several Hollywood westerns during the silent movie days.
On Jan. 13, 1929 Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles at the age of 80 of prostate cancer. Cowboy actors Tom Mix and William S. Hart were among his pallbearers. Wyatt's cremated ashes were buried in Josie's family plot in Colma,
California, just south of San Francisco. When Josie died in 1944, she was buried there beside him.
As to the other Earp brothers,
Virgil was taken to the family homestead in Colton,
California where he recovered from his wounds suffered at the
O.K. Corral. Later he prospected with his wife and, still later, was elected city marshal of Colton. He then returned to prospecting with his wife Allie and died of pneumonia in Goldfield, Nevada
Virgil is buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
After helping Wyatt in tracking down the
Morgan's killers, Warren served as a stage driver and did some prospecting in Globe, Arizona. He then moved to Wilcox,
Arizona and in 1900 got into a drunken fight with a cowboy named Johnny Boyet. Boyet shot and killed
who was unarmed at the time. Boyet was acquitted on grounds of self-defense, the jury believing that even an Earp without a gun was more dangerous than most men with a gun in their hand. He is buried in the Wilcox Pioneer Cemetery in Wilcox,
When Morgan was killed, James traveled with
Virgil and the Earp women to Colton,
California for Morgan's burial. Later he lived in Shoshone County, Idaho before settling in permanently in
California in 1890. James Earp died on January, 25th 1926 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in San Bernardino,
Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated