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The West: Earp's- From Wild to Tame

Updated on June 17, 2015

Boot Hill Grave Yard

The Boothill Grave Yard began as the Tombstone Cemetery. Much of the original cemetery is gone, but the main part of it has been preserved. Along with some of the most interesting tombstones.

Row 2:

Bill Clanton, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury

Murdered on the streets of Tombstone,1881 Tragic results of the O.K. Corral battle, which took place between the Earp Brothers, with Doc Holliday and the cowboys. Three men were killed and three men were wounded.

1870 Jones Township, MO

  • Wyatt Earp, 22, married in Jan
  • Rilla Earp, 21, wife
  • Nicholas Earp, 58, father
  • Virginia Earp, 50, mother
  • Warren Earp, 13, brother
  • Adelia Earp, 9, sister
  • Virgil Earp, 26, brother married Rosa Earp, 17
  • Newton Earp, 33,brother married Nancy Earp, 24, daughter Effie Earp 2/12 mo.

The later years

In 1920, Wyatt Earp's temperament had calmed and he was a much more content individual, living in Los Angeles County with his wife Josephine, who was 15 years his junior. He still had stock in mining as he'd always done, this time in copper.

Wyatt was living out his life in peace, not knowing that in nine years he would be taking his last breath.

The legend of Wyatt Earp that is remembered and portrayed today is that of an American hero of the cowboy era. While that may be true, Wyatt Earp and the Earp boys were a band of "bad men" remembered quite differently by the media of the time. One thing can be said of the Earp boys, they instilled fear and through fear, respect.


In the early years, Wyatt Earp was one of a passel of kids. When the civil war broke out, he wanted to do his share, but a teenage boy had no business in the war and he was caught several times trying to leave home. By the time he reached the age of 17, there was no stopping him;he went out to see the world. By 1870, his father Nicholas and his mom Virginia were living on an adjoining parcel of land in Missouri. Still at home were his siblings, Warren, Adelia and Virgil. Wyatt had just taken a bride named Rilla. He tried his hand at farming and she tried her hand at keeping house. Rilla later and while with child contracted a bad case of typhoid fever; which she sucummed too; leaving Wyatt alone again.

Wyatts other siblings had scattered and moved on their own, but never to far that they couldn't come into the fold when needed. Wyatt was known as being the smartest, Warren as being the fool hearted, Virgil the oldest and levelheaded, Julian the bravest, Morgan the favorite, James, the follower and Newton J. was the loner.


The Earps quickly learned how to make money, but they lived lavishly and always ended up needing more.

Virgil had a partnership with Beshar Williams, who worked with the Wells Fargo Express Stagecoach. He knew when the coach was carrying money and told the Earps ahead of time what the schedule was for the day. Warren and Julian Earp worked as guards on the coach and Virgil was a marshal. This became a very lucrative setup for the Earps. They would rob the coach,sometime gaining as much as $25,000 in reward; there wouldn't be any risk of getting shot by the guard and then the marshal would get paid to try to go after the thieves. This worked well for the Earps until Beshar Williams was on his deathbed and decided to come clean before he met his maker. The Earps were soon on the move again, using their charm and abilities, they served no time.

Tombstone Village, Pima County Az


  • Wyatt S. Earp, 32, single
  • Virgil W. Earp, 36 and married Alley Earp, 22
  • Mattie Earp, 22
  • James C. Earp, 39, married Bessie Earp, 36 and stepdaughter, Hattie Catchin, 17. James was a Saloon Keeper

1880: San Bernardino, California

  • Morgan Earp, 29, farmer
  • N.P. Earp, 67, his father
  • Virginia Earp, 57, his mother
  • Louisa Earp, 25, his wife
  • Warren B. Earp, 25, his brother
  • Minnie Carter, 14 (unknown relationship)

Gamblers, Thieves and Lawmen

The Earp brothers at this point had earned a reputation as ruthless, sharpshooters, gamblers, thieves and soon would add honorable law men to the list.

The civil war had split some of the Earps' from their family. Virgil fought with the 83rd Regt., Illinois Infantry Co.C and Newton J. Earp fought with the 4th Regt, Iowa Cav. Co. F. After the civil war, the Earp brothers began stealing and gambling and looking for riches.

During the 1870's, Wyatt Earp tries his hand at mining in Dodge City, KS, where Virgil and Doc Holliday ended up as well.

Doc Holliday had been in San Antonio, Texas where he had a dental office, but his love of gambling and the life lead him to retire and travel the mining towns. He tried mining camps in Wichita and Aspen to name a few before arriving in Dodge City; where he opened up an office in the Dodge House, Rm #24. Gambling seemed to be what took up most of his time.

Doc was known for being as gentle as a child with a caring heart, but a killer nonetheless; due to the frontier life. His death would come, not by a bullet in a gunfight, instead by consumption in a retreat in Colorado Springs. He died peacefully, but for several years after his death, people swore they had seen him as legends are sometimes hard to die.

Dodge City, KS

The year 1875; Wyatt Earp arrived in Dodge City, KS and his reputation as a marksman among other things lead to his being offered a position as a policeman with a salary of $75.00.

In 1877, Wyatt was once again offered the position of policeman because of his ability to take the most desperate characters into custody without incident. People feared him and would not draw a weapon against him in fear of missing and having to pay the consequences.

While in Dodge City, KS; a rather large woman named Frankie Bell attacked Wyatt Earp, now an ex-officer; he turned and slapped her. She was sent to the "dog house" for the night and saw the judge in the morning. She was fined $20 for her assault on Wyatt Earp and disturbing the peace. Wyatt was fined $1.

Dodge City, KS soon grew less appealing to the Earps and they ventured for greener pastures.

Final Resting Place

The Earps: Were they honorable or less than honorable men?

See results

Tombstone Arizona

Virgil and Doc left Dodge City, KS for Tombstone AZ in 1879 and made a stop in Prescott, AZ. first (1877). The "cowboys" were a group of outlaws, lead by Curly Bill who happened to be a cousin of the Earp's. They ran the Arizona territory and terrorised the communities and not to mention the local businesses.

Virgil got wind that the cowboys were holding up at the Brooks Ranch. Virgil formed the Deputy Marshal's posse and it was said that when they approached the ranch Virgil fired a shot right into the heart of a cowboy. Giving him the reputation of being a determined man and a good shot. For a little over a year, Virgil "ran" things in Prescott, then moved on to Tombstone which had been their goal.

Virgil took up working as a deputy marshal in Tombstone, AZ. They were soon joined by Wyatt and James. Morgan would follow a bit later. Other members of the Earp family would also join them in Tombstone. One of them being their sister, Jessie; who fell in love and eloped with the enemy, Ike Clanton.

Ike being a member of the Cowboys along with the Earp's cousin, Curly Bill, were all enemies. Curly Bill who had run with the Earp's from time to time, considered them hypocritical.

After the death of the Clanton's and the McLaurys at the O.K. Corral in 1881, it was an all out war for the Earp's and the Cowboys.

Morgan was now living in Tombstone and had joined the brothers in the gaming business, while playing billiards a mortal shot was fired through the window pane at Morgan Earp. It was determined, but not proven that a man named Stillwell had done the killing. Stillwell was never arrested or openly accused of the murder. However, a few weeks later his bullet riddled body was found at the train depot at Tucson. No charges were filed in that murder either. As coincidence would have it. the Earps were there that morning. March of 1882, James Earp accompanied the body of Morgan from Colton to Los Angeles California, where he stayed for a few days before returning home. Nothing else was heard of James Earp.

Another Brother, Julian was said to have been killed at the hand of Ike Clanton.

By 1882, Curly Bill and eight cowboys attempted to ambush the Earps at what became known as the Battle of Burleigh Spring; a desperate fight about eight miles from Tombstone, between Earp and his party of six and Curly Bill with his party of eight. Earp and his men dismounted at the spring, when nine cowboys came out with guns blasting.Earp and his men charged the nine returning fire. One of the cowboys was hit and the others fled, possibly wounded. The remaining casualty was that of Curly Bill. It was said that several followers of the Cowboys returned at dark to retrieve the body for burial.

Goodbye To Arizona

By 1883, the Earps had grown tired of the town and the people of the town had grown tired of them. They relocated to Gunnison until they wore out their welcome as well. Wyatt decided to head to California for some time as well as Virgil, who once again became town marshal. Wyatt took the job of Chief of Police. Sometime around 1895, Virgil returned to Prescott Arizona to mine and made the decision to run for sheriff, a position he had been nominated for, however, he later withdrew his name from the race.

It was in 1888 that Wyatt's wife, Celia Ann Blaylock Earp "Mattie" committed suicide as the papers noted, by taking laudanum.It had been hinted that Mattie had an addiction to laudanum and it was speculated that it had been an overdose. Wyatt then married Josephine Sarah Marcus in 1888 and remained with her until his death. She died several years later in 1944 and they were both buried in a jewish cemetery in San Francisco, California.

It was rumored that sometime earlier, Jessie Earp after eloping with Ike Clanton was killed by a bullet from an Earps pistol when they refused to come out of hiding. They were attempting to get their sister back and kill Ike Clanton' this proved to be a disaster for the Earp brothers. They mortally wounded her and Ike Clanton getting away.

Ca 1900, the bloodshed continued. The fool hearted Warren Earp was killed in Wilcox Arizona. Wyatt Earp, now living and running his own gambling saloon in Nome Alaska, had been liquored up and bullying a customer. The customer had enough of it and realized that Wyatt was unarmed. As Wyatt reached under the bar for his weapon, the customer fired a shot into Wyatt's arm and rendered it useless. At the loss of blood and use of his arm, it was quickly over. The townspeople feared revenge from Earp's supporters, but none came. Wyatt would return to California.

Around 1905, while the mention of Virgil Earp's death had been given many other times in the newspaper; this time it proved to be true. He was said to have been one of the best known and bravest men on the Pacific coast, who died of pneumonia.

Not much was ever heard about Newton J. Earp. After the civil war, he came and went from the Old Soldiers Home, In 1909, he was widowed and living in the home, with his son W.C. Earp as his nearest relative and by 1911 he was discharged and not much was heard of him after 1911.

The Earp's wild to tame; it didn't appear to be the case. The lived hard and died hard, but they lived.


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