Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Wyatt Earp & Every Helpful Link I Could Find

Yeah, so I had to stretch for the helpful links portion of the title. What can I say??

I'm going to list a few helpful links for writers and then I'll launch into Wyatt Earp's story.

This past month's Pikes Peak Writer's Write Brain workshop for writers is available for free online! You do not have to be a member of Pikes Peak Writers to enjoy this informative MP3 file entitled Wearing Many Hats, presented by Jodi Thomas. Click on that link and look to the right on that page for the link for the actual recording. It is underneath the green Resources box (not in it).

Amazon now has a solar charging Kindle case available.

Are you devious at heart? Like writing flash fiction or want to try your hand at it? The Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest is still on, deadline May 1. First prize is $100, Second is $50, Third is $25. Entry is $10.

The Hysterectomy Association is having a Short Story and Poetry Contest for female writers. Click the link for more details.

The Write Practice is having a Show Off Writing Contest. The winner will receive help polishing the story. There is a new competition each month with a different theme (this month's theme is "spring" with a deadline of April 9). Each month's winner will also be part of an anthology at the end of the 12 months. I did not see mention of pay, but I merely scanned.

arp. Wyatt Earp.

The Earp Brothers, sons of Nicholas Porter Earp, a justice of the peace, were James, Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren, I believe in that order. They also had three sisters, Martha, Virginia and Adelia; one older half-brother, Newton; and a half-sister who died before they were born (she was 10 months old), Mariah. Nicholas was a busy man, if you know what I mean...

I had originally intended to cover all the Earp brothers, but good heavens, do you see how many of them there are? There's no way for me to do these guys justice in such a short format, so I will just try to cover the most famous (infamous?) of these guys: Wyatt Earp.

Prepare to be surprised...I may burst some bubbles.

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (yikes) was born March 19, 1848 in Monmouth, IL. The Earp family moved around the country for years, even as far as California, before ending up in Lamar, Missouri in 1869. During that time, Wyatt worked as a rancher on the family farm, an assistant stage coach driver, a teamster, and he helped with the material transport and building of the Union Pacific Railroad. In November 1869, twenty-one year old Wyatt took over the position of constable for the town of Lamar from his father. He was officially a lawman.

Wyatt got married on January 10, 1870 to a woman named Urilla Sutherland. Unfortunately, she died sometime later that year of Typhoid fever; she was pregnant. Earp fled the state sometime in 1871, several legal charges having been filed against him accusing him of embezzlement and falsifying court documents during his time as constable. That year he was also accused of horse theft in Indian Country, and was taken into legal custody to be tried. He escaped jail by climbing through the roof (boy, jails sure weren't well built back then) and fled again, eventually ending up in Peoria, IL, where he became a pimp.

Are you wondering whether you read that correctly? I said A PIMP!

Yep, Wyatt and his little brother, Morgan, were arrested in a brothel on February 24, 1872. They were fined then set free. A few months later, the two were arrested again, this time in a different brothel. They were fined and had to sit in jail because they couldn't afford to pay. Shortly thereafter, Wyatt started pimping on the Beardstown Gunboat, a brothel on a ship. That's right, he was a floating pimp. Actually, some data claims he owned this boat, but I can't say for sure what's true.

He was arrested and fined twice more due to his services as a pimp on the Beardstown Gunboat. He also earned the name "The Peoria Bummer" in the newspapers of the day.

Perhaps it was this last arrest and fine, which landed him in infamy in the papers, but Earp moved on to Wichita, KS, first serving as a private "collections" man to get some money back for someone. He then became a member of the Wichita police force on April 21, 1875. Apparently, news of Wyatt hadn't spread all the way to Wichita!

He was removed from the police force in 1876 after an altercation with a rival of his boss's. His boss continued to employ him sort of under the table until Wyatt was once again accused of embezzling.

So what happened? Was he severely punished? Arrested? Horse whipped?

No, he went to Dodge City and got on the police force there. Gives you real confidence in the police forces of the day, doesn't it?

He came and went from the Dodge City police force between the years of 1876 and 1879, being rehired each time he returned from wherever he had wandered. It is claimed by some that he was hunting buffalo during those breaks. He worked with Bat Masterson a lot during this time, and they were good friends. By the time he left Dodge City in 1879, heading west, he was a well respected lawman, his past crimes forgotten.

Wyatt Earp finally came to Tombstone, Arizona in 1879, accompanied by a woman named Mattie Blaylock (real name Celia Ann), who he claimed as his common-law spouse. His brothers James, Virgil and Morgan all joined him with their families, and they began to stake mining claims. At some point, Virgil became a U.S. Deputy Marshal, and often roped his brothers into helping him. During this time, Wyatt served as a shotgun messenger for Wells Fargo, protecting the cargo on their stagecoaches. On July 27, 1880, Wyatt Earp was appointed a Deputy Sheriff of Pima County. He received many accolades from the press over the years, and was, again, a highly respected lawman.

Wyatt had major conflicts with Johnny Behan, who eventually became sheriff of the area. They were both attracted to the same woman, actress Josephine Sarah Marcus. Behan had a relationship with her first, but she kicked him out when she discovered him cheating. She and Wyatt hooked up, despite the fact that he had claimed Mattie as his common-law wife.

Later, Wyatt and Behan competed for the sheriff's role. Due to political issues, Behan became sheriff. He promised under-sheriff to Wyatt, but didn't follow up, instead appointing another man to the role.

No longer a lawman, Wyatt was hired to be an enforcer at a saloon, and given shares. He continued riding in sheriff's posses to catch stagecoach robbers and troublemakers, which landed him in the ill sights of the McLaury brothers and the Cowboys. Things continued to escalate until the incidents that led up to the fight at the O.K. Corral, which I wrote about yesterday under Doc Holliday. It should be noted that Ike Clanton told a very different story than Wyatt and his friend and brothers: click HERE to read the other side.

After the O.K. Corral incident, the Earps and Doc made their way through New Mexico and Colorado, ultimately finding themselves in Gunnison, CO. He took the actress Josephine as his common-law wife, having left Mattie behind in Tombstone. They were together the rest of their lives. Wyatt worked as a Faro dealer, owned several saloons, and continued to attempt mining. In 1884, Wyatt once again took on the cloak of a lawman, becoming a sheriff in Kootenai County, Idaho. In 1885, he left and went after gold in San Diego, CA. There, he juggled real estate, opening saloons and running them. He also became a gambler and started investing in racehorses.

In 1897, having traveled a bit more around California, Wyatt and Josephine went up to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush, once again opening a saloon in his city of residence. They continued chasing gold back in California and Nevada. In 1910, Wyatt began working as a bounty hunter, of sorts, for the Los Angeles Police Department until being involved in a dispute that became the Pot Ash Wars, which he was not further involved in. He moved to Hollywood and became a film consultant on Westerns. This he did until his death on January 13, 1929, age 80, of chronic cystitis, now believed to have been prostate cancer.

Some extra facts:

1. Wyatt Earp met a young John Wayne, who based many of his characters on the old lawman.

2. Earp was the last gunfighter from the O.K. Corral to die.

3. He was never shot. Shot at, yes, but no bullet ever hit its mark.

4. He met author Jack London while in Alaska.

5. His father was convicted of bootlegging in 1859.

6. Wyatt was not a lawman during his participation at the O.K. Corral, though he was considered to be acting as an Assistant Marshal.

Did you know these things about Wyatt Earp, or did you think he was squeaky clean like the film Tombstone made him out to be? Any other helpful links to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Silver E courtesy of OCAL at
**Wyatt Earp, circa 1869, by Sbharris at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
***Wyatt Earp Oval Photo public domain via Wikimedia Commons
****Dodge City Police Commission, June 1883, by Camillus S. Fly, ca. 1890. 111-SC-94129, public domain via Wikimedia Commons


Dani said...

I couldn't live with that mustache! Yuck, but Earp is a "pimp" in his own right. Another great wild west post!

PR said...

Pimp turned deputy, how much fun it must have been to live in those days! :)

Universal Gibberish

M.J. Fifield said...

Awesome 'stache.

I really love reading stories about the wild west. Thanks for sharing.

Rosaria Williams said...

It was a tough time, and it brought the best and the worst out of people. Now, after this account, I shall revisit John Wayne's movies to see that famous stance of his.

Thanks, Shannon. Most generous!

Jeremy [Retro] said...

digging the facts and the stash!

Excellent! ... to the challenge "E" is for Efficient!
Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
A to Z Co-Host
IZOMBIE: Visit the Madness

Gossip_Grl said...

Loving the posts on old west and Interesting facts on Wyatt Earp thanks for sharing

Kelly Stilwell said...

Wow! You sure did your research! Great post!

Unknown said...

SHannon... LOVE your post... one of our (my husband and I's) favorite movie is Tombstone. Dean can recite most if not all the lines in the movie.. Yes I know a bit too much huh? lol Having grown up in Los Angeles, the land of entertainment, I learned early on that "the movies" tend to use what is convenient for them when filming... with that said, it was awesome finding out some true facts about Wyatt and his family.. Love your A to Z theme!!
Visiting from the A to Z Challenge

Mimi said...

I really enjoyed your history of Wyatt Earp. It is kind of funny how blurry the lines between "good guys" and "bad guys" were. Also, you can see why telephone and cameras were such important inventions. It just wasn't that long ago that anyone could just change their name and move to a new city and start again.

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

Unknown said...

Oh stories and movies about him, and Doc Holiday are among my favourites. Very well researched post.

Liz Brownlee said...

Wow. I wonder what he would have been today?

Horst Peters said...

I really enjoy your posts. I look forward to the F post

Chuck said...

This is fascinating stuff about the old west and Earp. As I said yesterday I love the movie Tombstone and its well-cast characters. Fleshing out the movie version of Wyatt is just good reading. Thanks!

Andrew Leon said...

I like the Costner Earp better. Not so shiny as in Tombstone.

Unknown said...

Solar powered kindle case? I'm there!

Jamie Gibbs
Fellow A-Z buddy
Mithril Wisdom

Saturday Sadie said...

Wow... I'm just loving your Wild West posts for the "Blogging A to Z" challenge. You are 37 shades better at teaching history than any of my history teachers ever were.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I wondered what had become of him after reading the previous post. Quite surprised that he saw a ripe old age :-)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Danielle, hey, he got the last laugh when he always had a snack for later in that stache.

Anna, no kidding! You could get away with so much.

M.J., he did have one splendid stache!

Rosaria, it makes me want to watch a John Wayne movie, too. It's our best chance at getting to see what Earp might have been like.

Jeremy, less efficient than I had intended!

Gossip Grl, thanks for reading!

Kelly, thank you!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Carla, nah, not too much! I love Tombstone, and I can probably quote Young Guns line by line if I put my mind to it.

Mimi, that is so true. Especially considering he was not just hiding under a rock, but landing in newspapers and known to the entire town.

Luna, thank you! Wyatt Earp is a fantastic character. In fact, if they made it accurate, I think it could make for a good story, but I suppose we like to have our heroes, too.

Liz, that is a darned good question.

Horst, thank you so much!

Chuck, thanks! They definitely made for good characters.

Andrew, if I didn't dislike Costner so much, I might agree. It was a good movie, too, though. I remember we had the two in the theater at the same time and the print was HUGE because it was so long.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Jamie, no kidding, right!?

Sadie, so kind of you to say!

Sarah, me, too! Honestly, I'd never known how far past the O.K. Corral he'd made it, but then his history just went on and on and on. I was shocked!