Wyatt Earp was born 19 March 1848 in Monmouth, Illinois, but he accompanied his family to California in his teens. However, he was not very long in California before he decided to go to an area where he hoped to strike it rich quick: Prescott, Arizona. He was there from 1866 to 1868, after which he worked awhile in Wyoming. Then he moved to Lamar, Missouri, where he met and married a beautiful young woman by the name of Urilla Sutherland, who died of typhoid a short time after the marriage. Wyatt apparently became bitter about her death and committed a crime: horse theft. He was arrested in 1871 in Ft. Gibson, Indian Territory, for this offense. He jumped bail.
By the winter of 1873 Wyatt was hunting buffalo along Peace Creek, Kansas, but he found the job quite distasteful. He finally went to Wichita in April or May 1874. He joined the police force there in 1875. He found he was quite successful at this new occupation. He made quite a name for himself when he was eventually hired to the police force at Dodge City, Kansas, (1876) where he worked with Bat Masterson. Nevertheless, by 1880 he decided to return to Arizona where, again, he hoped to make a fortune in the mines at Tombstone. It was apparently around this time that he also became acquainted with the Globe area. One of his most ardent supporters was John Clum, who ran the Tombstone Epitaph. Clum had been Apache Indian agent at San Carlos just before he moved to Tombstone in 1877.
It was in Tombstone, of course, that Wyatt had his famous shoot-out near (NOT at) the O.K. Corral on 26 October 1881. This shoot-out has truly become legendary. I suggest that you read Glenn G. Boyer's Wyatt Earp's Tombstone Vendetta, (Honolulu: Talei Publishers, 1993) to really find out what happened there and afterwards. It's quite a sanguinary tale.
Anyway, after the Tombstone incident Wyatt went to Silver City, then to Albuquerque, then Las Vegas (all in New Mexico), and finally to Colorado. In 1883 he was back in Dodge City, but he stayed there only a short time. In 1884 he became a saloon-keeper at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Ever restless, Wyatt continued to work at various occupations in San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland, California. By 1898 he was in the Klondike gold rush. He was still living in Nome, Alaska, in 1900. He came back to the "lower 48" a while after, and was in Tonopah, and Goldfield, Nevada, by 1905. Finally, he settled in Los Angeles in 1906.
Wyatt Earp, famous lawman, but rather unsavory soul, died 13 January 1929 in Los Angeles. His legend seems to be far bigger than the actual man.
I would like to add a little footnote to this quite cursory bio. It is about one of Wyatt's "women": Mattie Blaylock. She deserves more attention than is usually given to her.
It is quite well-known that Wyatt Earp met a young lady in Tombstone whom he quickly fell in love with: Josephine Marcus. However, he had been living for quite some time before that with Cely Ann "Mattie" Blaylock. After the shootout in Tombstone the relationship between Wyatt and Mattie was badly strained. Mattie still considered herself ,"Mrs. Wyatt Earp," and she always introduced herself with that name, but Wyatt now consorted more with Josephine.
Mattie had a bad habit of booze and "laudanum," an opium-derived drug, and she quickly deteriorated. She moved to the small, but famous, boomtown of Pinal City, Arizona (located near what is now Superior--at the same site as the Boyce Thompson Arboretum). On 4 July 1888 Mattie Blaylock, age 38, was found dead in her apartment there, after she had spent the night drinking and dosing on laudanum. An empty bottle of the drug ws found at her side. She had died alone, spurned and forgotten, in a town that was itself to disappear that very same year.
The current town of Superior, near the site of old Pinal City, is only a half-hour from Globe--just on the other side of the beautiful Pinal Mountains.
Web site about the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum near Superior (located not far from the site of old Pinal City).
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