The Pink Flamingo is on the Board of Directors of the Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum. In the ways of this crazy mixed up world, it’s not a big deal, but it is important to me, because that is where Wyatt Earp was born.
Awhile back, the owners of the house where Wyatt was born, Bob & Melba Matson came under fire by a liberal, small town college professor, who decided Wyatt Earp was not born where the Matsons have PROVED he was born. Dr. William Urban has made life a living hell for the Matsons and anyone involved with the WE Birthplace. Anything that goes on there is countered by a press release about how the birthplace is wrong. The latest is Urban, now retired, going to the National Register folks to try and get the house de-listed.
One of editors of a new by newspaper was at their annual event a few weeks ago. The following is his editorial.
“A guest speaker at the August 1 re-enactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral at the Wyatt Earp birthplace in Monmouth asked why there wasn’t more of a community turnout.
My take on the matter is that the city is not doing the type of things we do in Macomb to support a community event.
The local newspaper, the Review-Atlas, is the only organization that goes all-out to promote the annual Wyatt Earp Day. It provides significant advance coverage, and has a reporter on hand for interviews at the event itself.
One of my friends in Monmouth seems to think the neglect on the part of the city stems from some bad feelings in the late 1990s when the owners of the Wyatt Earp birthplace were pushing for some type of assistance with historic preservation and local promotion.
“It’s a shame,” she said of the present situation, noting that she tries to attend the annual event. The Review-Atlas reported that 200 people came this year, double what I had initially estimated when viewing the crowd.
Wyatt Earp was born upstairs at 406 South 3rd Street, a home being rented by his aunt. His father had just returned from the U.S.-Mexican War. Thompson Chapman, a man whose son would later marry into the Earp family, bought the house in 1853 and owned it for 11 years.
Other members of the Earp family, the Strattons, bought the house in the 1930s.
The home was recognized as Wyatt Earp’s birthplace by the Warren County Historical Society in 1972, and historic preservationists in Monmouth held the first Wyatt Earp Day in 1985.
When the home was posted for sale in 1986, it was purchased by local educators Bob and Melba Matson. They continue to pay all upkeep on the home, and rent it as a museum to Wyatt Earp Birthplace, Inc. for a token payment of one dollar per year.
It seems to me that the city of Monmouth, its chamber of commerce, and any local tourism bodies ought to seek funding to improve the look of the Earp birthplace and to expand the August observance into more of a communitywide event.”