Brave, Courageous and Bold

March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929

Wyatt Earp died on this day in 1929.  He was in his little rented bungalow in Los Angeles, Josie by his side.  He was almost in a coma.  He woke, said, “Suppose, suppose,” and was gone.

I’ll tell you a story a real true life story
A tale of the Western frontier.
The West, it was lawless,
but one man was flawless
and his is the story you’ll hear.

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Brave courageous and bold.
Long live his fame and long life his glory
and long may his story be told.

Well he cleaned up the country
The old wild west country
He made law and order prevail.
And none can deny it
The legend of Wyatt
Forever will live on the trail.

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Brave courageous and bold.
Long live his fame and long life his glory
and long may his story be told.

John McCain was shot down over Vietnam on an October 26.  For any Earp scholar, or even someone from Arizona with a knowledge of history, that is a symbolic day.  I think it was the clincher for me in why I decided to support John McCain over Rudy Giuliani.  Don’t get me wrong, either man would make a great President of the United States. To me there is something highly symbolic about a man from Arizona who is running for POTUS, whose life was changed forever on October 26, 1967, only 86 years to the day from the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

On that day Wyatt Earp’s life was changed forever when he, his brothers Virgil and Morgan and Doc Holiday faced Ike & Billy Clanton and Frank & Tom McLaury there on Fremont Street in front of Fly’s Boarding House and the entrance to the OK Corral.  (Today the actual location of the gunfight would be right on Highway 80.  There are a few of us who would love to see those painted outlines law enforcement uses, painted onto the street to show where the gunfight actually occurred, but that isn’t going to happen.)

He could have salvaged the rest of his life if he and his brothers had gone ahead and left Tombstone.  But they did not.  On December 28th of that year, later in the evening, Virgil Earp (whose office was located above the Crystal Palace Saloon) walked out of the Oriental Saloon.  A few moments later the explosive noise of a shot-gun pierced the night of Tombstone as Ike Clanton, Curly Bill Brocius, Frank Stilwell, Hank Swilling, and John Ringo attempted to murder the lawman. Ike Clanton left in such a rush his hat, with his name in it, was left behind.  Virgil was seriously injured, and left without the use of his left arm.

Dr. George Goodfellow surgically removed  five and-a-half inches of his shattered humerus bone, during the immediate treatment of the wound. While being examined by Goodfellow, the Virgil told his wife, Allie, “Nevermind, I’ve got one arm left to hug you with.”

On learning of Virgil’s wounds, which he initially thought were fatal, territorial U.S. Marshal Crawley P. Dake gave Virgil’s Deputy U.S. Marshal position to Wyatt. For the next few months, Wyatt, Morgan, Doc and others were scouring the countryside for stage robbers, cattle and horse thieves, primarily thought to be any configuration of the Cowboys mentioned in the previous paragraph and at least 100 other outlaws.  The situation in Cochise County was going from bad to worse.

On the evening of March 18, 1882, Wyatt and Morgan attended the theater at Schieffelin Hall. Afterward, Wyatt allegedly was worried that something was going to happen to either one of them.  Their lives, along with Doc Holiday, John Clum, George Parsons, and anyone else who had assisted the Earps against the Cowboys, had been threatened many times.  Morgan told Wyatt he wanted to shoot a little pool before he joined him in the room the two men shared at the Cosmopolitan Hotel a few doors down from Hatch’s Saloon.  Wyatt went to the hotel, then decided to join Morgan at Hatch’s.  When the shots were fired through the window, Morgan was leaning over the pool table getting ready to make a shot.  Wyatt was seated, his back against the wall.  The shots severed Morgan’s spine.  A bullet nearly hit Wyatt.  Forty minutes later Morgan was dead.

The shooters were identified as Pete Spence, Frank Stilwell, Ike Clanton, Florentino Cruz, Hank Swilling, Curly Bill Brocius, and John Ringo.

Louisa, his wife, was quite frail.  She was living with Morgan’s parents in Colton, CA.  According to Morgan’s sister, Adelia, she just crumpled into a little ball on the floor.  There was a service the following day, which was Wyatt’s birthday.  Then Wyatt, Doc, Virgil, Allie and an escort of armed riders including Sherman McMasters, Turkey Creek Johnson, and Texas Jack Vermillion, and Warren Earp (the youngest of the Earp brothers) rode to Contention City, and from there took the train to Tucson, where they waited for the connection to LA to take Morgan’s body to the family in Colton.  While in Tucson, Wyatt received word that Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell were planning to kill him.  Wyatt left the still recovering Virgil on the train. Allie, sitting next to Virgil, had Virgil’s .45 in her lap.  The evening was warm and the windows of the rail car were open.

Frank Stilwell was on the platform. Wyatt faced him, firing from his shotgun.  Stilwell was dead in a matter of moments.

Historians have said that Wyatt’s shooting of Frank Stilwell was probably cold-blooded murder. Some historians have excused it as self defense. While I was researching my book TRAVESTY:  Frank Waters Earp Agenda Exposed (if you would like a copy leave me a comment and I will get back to you) I discovered that Wyatt’s shooting of Frank Stilwell was indeed self-defense.  I discovered that Stilwell fired a shot through the open windows of the rail car, the bullet flying directly in front of the faces of Allie and Virgil.  Wyatt shot and killed Stilwell to protect his seriously injured brother.

I had a friend, Tim Rich, who was one of the early Navy Seals.  Tim told me that there are man who have the courage to do the dirty jobs, and kill when it is necessary.  He was an admirer of Wyatt Earp, who is the reason my friend was even born.  Back in 1875 when Wyatt and Tim’s grandfather were members of a US Deputy Marshal’s posse out of Fort Smith, Arkansas they went into Indian Territory (Oklahoma) looking for renegades.  At one time Tim’s grandfather (a Texas Ranger) and Wyatt were pinned behind a barrier together caught in a cross-fire from the Indians.  One of the renegades was about to shoot Tim’s grandfather, and Wyatt saved his life.  My friend Tim would never have been born if it weren’t for Wyatt Earp.

By the time Wyatt and his party returned to Tombstone on the 21st, they were wanted men. Ignoring threats of arrest, Wyatt headed straight to the Dragoons where they took out Spence and Cruz.  Two days later, on March 24, the Earp Party met up with Curly Bill Brocius at Iron Springs.  In a classic shoot-out, Wyatt took his shotgun and nearly blew Curly Bill in half.  There are versions of the story that say they removed CB’s head, carrying it in a bag to John Henry Hooker’s Sierra Bonita Ranch, where Wyatt was paid a very nice bounty for bagging Curly Bill (sorry about the pun).

I’ve not been able to confirm that story, but the Vendetta party did spend several days at Hooker’s Ranch.  Hooker’s daughter in law later produced a short manuscript about the event.  Wyatt’s Vendetta Posse then proceeded to take out Cowboys throughout Cochise County.  They then traveled to Silver City where they sold their horses and took a stage to Deming.  There they took the train to Albuquerque.  Somewhere along the line they met up with Bat Masterson, himself a US Deputy Marshal.  They spent a few days in ABQ, then to Las Vegas, staying at the still magnificent Plaza Hotel.  They went to Trinidad, Colorado where Masterson was a lawman.  After a time the Earps headed to Gunnison, Colorado.

The object was to avoid the possibility of being taken back to Arizona were there were numerous warrants for their arrest for murder.  The governors of Arizona and Colorado worked things out so that the Earps could leave Colorado for greener pastures, but Doc would be required to remain in the state, or he would also face murder charges.

Not long after reaching Gunnison, Wyatt received a letter from his wife, Mattie Blaylock, asking for a divorce.  She was living in Colton with Wyatt’s parents when she met a gambler from Arizona, and was in love with him.  Wyatt did not believe in divorce.  Even though he and Mattie had been separated since the evening of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, he refused to give her a divorce.  Not long after that letter, one came from his sister, Adelia, telling him that Mattie had deserted him, running off with her gambler lover who would eventually desert her somewhere in Arizona.  The moment Wyatt heard that Mattie had left him, he drove a team to Salt Lake City in just two weeks, grabbed a train, and was in San Francisco in a matter of hours after that.  From that day until the day he died (47 years later) they were separated for a few times, but remained together.  We have no evidence one way or another that they were ever married.

The moral of the story is rather simple.  We live in very dangerous times, when our nation and our civilization is fighting for our very survival.  We need a President who, like George W. Bush, is a leader, a man (or woman) who has the courage of Wyatt Earp, not afraid to do a very hard, very nasty job to get rid of people (if you can call them that) who want to destroy our very existence.  We need someone who is not afraid to speak his (or her) mind, and to do what ever it takes to keep our nation safe.

Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp,
Brave courageous and bold.
Long live his fame and long life his glory
and long may his story be told.
And long may his story be told.

Every country has a defining moment and an defining individual.  England has King Arthur.  It is my theory that Wyatt Earp is our own King Arthur.  For good or ill, the defining moment of the United States of America took place at 2:30PM on October 26, 1881 on Fremont Street (Highway 80) in front of the OK Corral and Fly’s Boarding House, in Tombstone Arizona.  There Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday faced Ike & Billy Clanton and Frank & Tom McLaury.  At that moment the character of America was truly defined in the persona of Wyatt Earp.