Wyatt Earp (Legends of the Wild West)

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Earp was an officer of the law in various Western frontier towns, farmer, teamster, buffalo hunter, gambler, saloonkeeper, miner and boxing referee. Earp was most known as a peace officer. Yet, although he served from time to time as an adjunct lawman, he was never a Marshall. Earp had several brothers. His brother, Virgil, was a Deputy U. Wyatt actually found himself more often on the receiving side than on the enforcement side of the law. In , the Earp family moved to Lamar, Missouri.

When his father, Nicholas, resigned as constable, Wyatt was appointed to the post, and later won election by defeating his half brother, Newton. Soon, Wyatt was arrested first for falsifying court documents regarding town collections, and then for horse theft. While out on bail, he fled Missouri. In his biography, Earp claimed to have spent the time buffalo hunting where he met Wild Bill Hickok, but records indicate that during that period, he was running a brothel in Peoria, Illinois-where he was arrested three times for operating a house of ill repute.

In , Earp arrived in Wichita, Kansas, a train terminal destination for cattle drives. He helped in the City Marshall's office, possibly in an unpaid capacity. He is credited with arresting a horse thief and a group of wagon thieves. During this period, while he was leaning back on a chair, a single-action revolver dropped out of his holster and discharged a bullet that went through his coat.

That was the closest Earp ever came to being struck by a bullet. After two years of service, described by a newspaper as "unexceptional," Earp got into a fist fight during the City Marshall election and was fired. Earp ventured to Dodge City, Kansas, where the first records are of him being fined for slapping a prostitute who insulted him.

Earp and Doc Holliday met during a brawl when Holiday was reported to have stopped a cowboy from shooting Earp in the back. Earp, in his biography, reported several gunfights or potential gunfights during his time as Assistant City Marshall, with most of the details found to be at variance with the record. In a murder where a woman was killed during an attempted assassination of the mayor of Dodge City, Earp was part of a posse and was credited with shooting the perpetrator's horse.

Deputy Marshal. Wyatt went to work riding shotgun for Wells Fargo stagecoaches. Soon, brothers Morgan and Warren, and Doc Holliday joined them. A complicated series of events led to what has become known as the Gunfight at the O. Sheriff Johnny Behan took the side of the cowboys in their battle against the Earps. Ike Clanton was known to have been unarmed and no weapon was found near Tom McLaury, who was killed by a shotgun blast from Doc Holliday-who fired the first shot.

The gunfight was followed by a lengthy trial that concluded that Virgil Earp and his deputies had acted as law officers, although Virgil Earp was criticized for his choice of Wyatt and Doc as deputies. Following the trial, Virgil Earp was attacked and wounded. His greetings were warm and friendly. I stood in awe. Somehow, like a mountain, or desert, he reduced you to size.

Among his peers near his death, Wyatt was respected. He was game to the last ditch and apparently afraid of nothing. The cowmen all respected him and seemed to recognize his superiority and authority at such times as he had to use it. When citizens of Dodge City learned the Earps had been charged with murder after the gunfight, they sent letters endorsing and supporting the Earps to Judge Wells Spicer. Wyatt's manner, though friendly, suggested a quiet reserve Frequently it has happened that men who have served as peace officers on the frontier have craved notoriety in connection with their dealings with the outlaw element of their time.

Wyatt Earp deprecated such notoriety, and during his last illness he told me that for many years he had hoped the public would weary of the narratives—distorted with fantastic and fictitious embellishments—that were published from time to time concerning him, and that his last years might be passed in undisturbed obscurity. Bill Dixon knew Wyatt early in his adult life. He wrote:. Wyatt was a shy young man with few intimates. With casual acquaintances he seldom spoke unless spoken to. When he did say anything it was to the point, without fear or favor, which wasn't relished by some; but that never bothered Wyatt.

Quick Facts

To those who knew him well he was a genial companion. He had the most even disposition I ever saw; I never knew him to lose his temper. He was more intelligent, better educated, and far better mannered than the majority of his associates, which probably did not help them to understand him. His reserve limited his friendships, but more than one stranger, down on his luck, has had firsthand evidence of Wyatt's generosity. I think his outstanding quality was the nicety with which he gauged the time and effort for every move. That, plus his absolute confidence in himself, gave him the edge over the run of men.

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Wyatt Earp - Law Enforcement - Biography

Public perception of his life has varied over the years as media accounts of his life have changed. The story of the Earps' actions in Tombstone were published at the time by newspapers nationwide. Corral gunfight, that the Cowboys had been ordered to put their hands up and after they complied, were shot by the Earps, stating, "The whole series of killings cannot be classed other than cold blooded murder.

Book Sample

Famous lawman Bat Masterson described Wyatt in Wyatt Earp was one of the few men I personally knew in the West in the early days whom I regarded as absolutely destitute of physical fear. Wyatt Earp's daring and apparent recklessness in time of danger is wholly characteristic; personal fear doesn't enter into the equation, and when everything is said and done, I believe he values his own opinion of himself more than that of others, and it is his own good report he seeks to preserve He never at any time in his career resorted to the pistol excepting cases where such a course was absolutely necessary.

Wyatt could scrap with his fists, and had often taken all the fight out of bad men, as they were called, with no other weapons than those provided by nature. Wyatt was reputed to be an expert with a revolver. He showed no fear of any man. Wyatt was lucky during the few gun fights he took part in from his earliest job as an assistant police officer in Wichita to Tombstone, where he was briefly deputy U. Unlike his lawmen brothers Virgil and James, Wyatt was never wounded, although once his clothing and his saddle were shot through with bullet holes.

Flood's biography as dictated to him by Wyatt Earp , Wyatt vividly recalled a presence that in several instances warned him away or urged him to take action.

This happened when he was on the street, alone in his room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, at Bob Hatch's Pool Hall, where he went moments before Morgan was assassinated, and again when he approached Iron Springs and surprised Curly Bill Brocius, killing him. After the shootout in Tombstone, his pursuit and murder of those who attacked his brothers, and after leaving Arizona, Wyatt was often the target of negative newspaper stories that disparaged his and his brothers' reputation.

His role in history has stimulated considerable ongoing scholarly and editorial debate. A large body of literature has been written about Wyatt Earp and his legacy, some of it highly fictionalized. Considerable portions of it are either full of admiration and flattery or hostile debunking.

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Wyatt was repeatedly criticized in the media over the remainder of his life. His wife Josephine wrote, "The falsehoods that were printed in some of the newspapers about him and the unjust accusations against him hurt Wyatt more deeply than anything that ever happened to him during my life with him, with the exception of his mother's death and that of his father and brother, Warren.

It described Behan as "an honest man, a good official, and possessed many of the attributes of a gentleman". Earp, on the other hand, "was head of band of desperadoes, a partner in stage robbers, and a friend of gamblers and professional killers Wyatt was the boss killer of the region. Former nemesis Johnny Behan continued to spread rumors about the Earps for the next 20 years. On December 7, , he was quoted in a story in the Washington Post , reprinted by the San Francisco Call , describing the Earp's lawbreaking behavior in Tombstone. After referring to the Fitzimmons-Sharkey fight, the article quoted Behan.

Between them and Earps rose a bitter feud over the division of the proceeds of the looting. The Earp boys believed they had failed to get a fair divide of the booty and swore vengeance. They caught their former allies in Tombstone unarmed and shot three of them dead while their hands were uplifted. Warrants were issued for their arrest, and, summoning a posse, I went out to bring the Earps in.

They were chased entirely out of the country and Tombstone knew them no more.


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After Earp left Alaska in , the New York Sun printed a story in that described a confrontation Earp had reportedly had with a short 5 feet 1. The story was reprinted as far away as New Zealand by the Otago Witness. Raines described the gunfight as an ambush. He said that he remembered the Earps shot the Cowboys and killed Ike Clanton when they actually killed his brother Billy before the Cowboys had a chance to surrender.

He recalled that the Cowboys "were leading their horses out of the gate when they were confronted, almost from ambush, by four of the Earps, Virgil. Wyatt, Morgan and Jim and by Doc Holliday. Virgil Earp, armed with a sawed off express shotgun, and accompanying his demand with profanity, yelled "Hands up! Tom McLowery [ sic ] showed his empty bands, and cried.

Ike Clanton fell at the first fire, mortally wounded, but he rolled over and fired two shots from his pistol between his bent knees. During , Frederick R.


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  • Bechdolt published the book When the West Was Young , [] which included a story about Wyatt's time in Tombstone, but he mangled many basic facts. He described the Earp-Clanton differences as the falling-out of partners in crime. It said that the Earps were allies of Frank Stilwell, who had informed on them, so they killed him, [] and that Earp had died in Colton, California.

    The author concocted a fictional description of the Earp's relationship with Sheriff Behan and the Cowboys:.

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    Trouble arose between them and Sheriff John Behan, who tried to 'clean up' the town. Trouble began when four cowboys refused to recognize the right of the Earp gang to rule the town. The Earps ordered the cowboys out of town and they were preparing to leave when they were waylaid and a gun battle followed during which Virgil Earp was shot in the leg, Morgan Earp in the shoulder and Ike Clanton was killed. The town was aroused and Frank Stilwell, who led the stage robberies, brought the trouble to a climax when he informed against his partners, because the Earps would not divide fairly.