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Wyatt Earp (3)

Wyatt EarpVendetta
Based on the testimony of Pete Spence's wife, Marietta, at the coronerís inquest on the killing of Morgan, the coroner's jury concluded that Spence, Stilwell, Frederick Bode, and Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz were the prime suspects in the assassination of Morgan Earp. Spence turned himself in so that he would be protected in Behan's jail.

On Sunday, March 19, the day after Morgan's murder, Wyatt, his brother James, and a group of friends took Morgan's body to the railhead in Benson. They put Morgan's body on the train with James, to accompany it to the family home in Colton, California. There, Morgan's wife waited to bury him.

The next day, it was Virgil and his wife Allie's turn to be escorted safely out of Tombstone. Wyatt had gotten word that trains leaving from Benson were being watched in Tucson, and getting the still invalid Virgil through Tucson to safety would be more difficult. Wyatt, Warren Earp, Holliday, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, and Sherman McMasters took Virgil and Allie in a wagon to the train in Benson, leaving their own horses in Contention City and boarding the train with Virgil. As the train pulled away from the Tucson station in the dark, gunfire was heard. Frank Stilwell's body was found on the tracks the next morning.

What Stilwell was doing on the tracks near the Earps' train has never been explained. Ike Clanton made his case worse by giving a newspaper interview claiming that he and Stilwell had been in Tucson for Stilwell's legal problems and heard that the Earps were coming in on a train to kill Stilwell. According to Clanton, Stilwell then disappeared from the hotel and was found later, blocks away, on the tracks. Wyatt, many years later, in the Flood biography, said that he and his party had seen Clanton and Stilwell on the tracks with weapons, and he had shot Stilwell.

After killing Stilwell in Tucson and sending their train on its way to California with Virgil, the Earp party was afoot. They hopped a freight train back to Benson and hired a wagon back to Contention, riding back into Tombstone by the middle of the next day (March 21). They were now wanted men, because once Stilwell's killing had been connected to the Earp party on the train, warrants had been issued for five of the Earp party. Ignoring Johnny Behan and now joined by Texas Jack Vermillion, the Earp posse rode out of town the same evening.

On March 22, the Earps rode to the woodcamp of Pete Spence at South Pass in the Dragoon Mountains, looking for Spence. They knew of the Morgan Earp inquest testimony. Spence was in jail, but at the woodcamp, the Earp posse found Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz. Wyatt and the others shot and killed Cruz.

Two days later, in Iron Springs, the Earp party, seeking a rendezvous with a messenger for them, stumbled upon a group of cowboys led by "Curley Bill" William Brocious. Curley Bill and Wyatt exchanged gun fire, and Curley Bill was hit in the chest by Wyatt's shotgun and died.

The Earp party spent the next two weeks riding through the rough country near Tombstone. They did not encounter a posse led by Cochise County Sherrif John H. Behan's which was looking for Earps, and the brothers left the territory for good. In the middle of April 1882, Wyatt Earp left the Arizona Territory.

Life after Tombstone
After killing Curley Bill, the Earps left Arizona for Colorado. Sherman McMasters traveled with the Earps to Colorado. In a stopover in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wyatt and Holliday had a disagreement and the group split. Holliday headed to Pueblo and then Denver. The Earps and Texas Jack set up camp on the outskirts of Gunnison, Colorado, where they remained quietly at first, rarely going into town for supplies. Eventually, Wyatt took over a faro game at a local saloon.

All of the Earp assets in Tombstone were slowly sold to pay back-taxes, and the stake the family had amassed in Tombstone was gradually erased. Wyatt and Warren joined Virgil in San Francisco in late 1882. Wyatt's common-law wife, Celia Anne "Mattie" Blaylock, a former prostitute and reported laudanum addict, waited for him in Colton but eventually accepted that Wyatt was not coming back. Wyatt had left Mattie their house when he left Tombstone. Wyatt left San Francisco with Josie in 1883, and she was his common-law wife for the next forty-six years. They represented themselves as man and wife, which in the Old West was all that was necessary for a common-law marriage. Earp and Marcus returned to Gunnison where they settled down, and Wyatt continued to run a faro bank.

Many years later Earp claimed George Hoyt was attempting to assassinate him at the behest of Robert Wright, with whom he claimed an ongoing feud. Earp said the feud between himself and Wright started when Earp arrested Bob Rachals, a prominent trail leader who had shot a German fiddler. According to Earp, Wright tried to block the arrest because Rachals was one of the largest financial contributors to the Dodge City economy.

In 1883, Earp returned along with Bat Masterson to Dodge City to help a friend deal with a corrupt mayor. What became known as the Dodge City War started when the Mayor tried to run Luke Short first out of business and then out of town. Short appealed to Masterson who contacted Earp. While Short was discussing the matter with Governor George Washington Glick in Kansas City, Earp showed up with Johnny Millsap, Shotgun John Collins, Texas Jack Vermillion, and Johnny Green.

They marched up Front Street into Short's saloon where they were sworn in as deputies by constable "Prairie Dog" Dave Marrow. The town council offered a compromise to allow Short to return for ten days to get his affairs in order, but Earp refused to compromise. When Short returned, there was no force ready to turn him away. Short's Saloon reopened, and the Dodge City War ended without a shot being fired.

Earp spent the next decade running saloons and gambling concessions and investing in mines in Colorado and Idaho, with stops in various boom towns. In 1884, Earp and two younger brothers entered the Murray-Eagle mining district in Idaho. Within six months their substantial stake had run dry, and they left the Murray-Eagle district. In about April 1885, Wyatt Earp joined a band of claim jumpers in Embry Camp, Washington, modernly known as Chewelah. It is said that Earp also jumped the Old Dominion claim further North in Colville, Washington.

In 1886, Earp and Josie moved to San Diego and stayed there about four years. Earp ran several gambling houses in town and speculated in San Diego's real estate boom. He also judged prize fights and raced horses. On July 3, 1888, Mattie, who always considered herself to be Wyatt's wife, committed suicide in Pinal, Arizona Territory, by taking an overdose of laudanum.

The Earps moved back to San Francisco during the 1890s so Josie could be closer to her family and Wyatt took a job managing a horse stable in Santa Rosa. During the summer of 1896, Earp wrote his memoirs with the help of a ghost writer (Flood). On December 3, 1896, Earp was the referee for a high-profile boxing match. During the fight Bob Fitzsimmons, clearly in control, allegedly landed a low blow against Tom Sharkey. Earp awarded the victory to Sharkey and was accused of committing fraud.

Fitzsimmons had an injunction put on the prize money until the courts could determine who the rightful winner was. The judge in the case decided that because fighting, and therefore prize fighting, was illegal in San Francisco, that the courts would not determine who the real winner was. The decision provided no vindication for Earp.

In the fall of 1897, Earp and Josie joined in the gold rush to Alaska, and for the following few years Earp ran several saloons and gambling concessions in Nome. Controversy continued to follow Earp, and he was arrested several times for different minor offenses.
By 1906, Earp and Josie had settled in the Sonoran Desert town of Vidal, California where he staked claims in both copper and gold mines near the Whipple Mountains. Although it never actually boasted a town, the townsite of Earp, California is located at the site of those mining claims.

Earp eventually moved to Hollywood, where he met several famous and soon to be famous actors on the sets of various movies. On the set of one movie, he met a young extra and prop man who would eventually become John Wayne. Wayne later told Hugh O'Brian that he based his image of the Western lawman on his conversations with Earp. And one of Earp's friends in Hollywood was William S. Hart, a well-known cowboy star of his time. In the early 1920s, Earp served as deputy sheriff in a mostly ceremonial position in San Bernardino County, California. Wyatt lived out his last years reading the Bible.

Wyatt Earp died at home in the Earps' small apartment at 4004 W 17th Street, in Los Angeles, of chronic cystitis (some sources cite prostate cancer) on January 13, 1929 at the age of 80. Western actors William S. Hart and Tom Mix were pallbearers at his funeral. His wife Josie was too grief-stricken to attend.

Josie had Earp's body cremated and buried Earp's ashes in the Marcus family plot at the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery (Josie was Jewish) in Colma, California. When she died in 1944, Josie's ashes were buried next to Earp's. The original gravemarker was stolen in 1944 but has since been replaced by a new standing stone.

Further reading
Fattig, Timothy W. (2005). Wyatt Earp: The Biography. Talei Publishers. pp. 596.
Barra, Allen (1998). Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. Barra takes a look at the Earp legend and its place in American mythology, fiction, and film.

Earp, Josephine Sarah Marcus (1976). I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. University of Arizona Pr. Criticized for the imagination of the editor.

Gatto, Steve (2000). The Real Wyatt Earp: A Documentary Biography. Silver City: High-Lonesome Books.

Lake, Stuart N. (1994). Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. Pocket.

Marks, Paula Mitchell (1989). And Die in the West: the story of the O.K. Corral gunfight. New York: Morrow. Extensive examination not only of the gunfight and vendettas, but also of the myth-making that took place surrounding the OK Corral incident. Marks writes from a socioeconomic perspective.

Reidhead, SJ (2005). Travesty: Frank Waters Earp Agenda Exposed. Roswell, NM: Jinglebob Press & Wyatt Earp Books. Travesty is based on the original manuscript for Frank Waters' "The Earp Brothers of Tombstone", completely debunking the Waters' book. It is 527 pages with 2223 footnotes. Travesty also includes an Annotated Bibliography of Earp & Tombstone related books.

Tefertiller, Casey (1997). Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend. New York: John Wiley & Sons. A careful biography with unusual attention to Wyatt's post-Tombstone life.

Turner, Alford E. (1981). The OK Corral Inquest. College Station, Texas: Creative Publishing company. The authoritative trial documents from Judge Wells Spicer's famous hearing, with extensive notes by the editor, Alford E. Turner, considered by many to be the leading authority on the Earps.

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