Information

Shootout at the O.K. Corral


On October 26, 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented “law and order” in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.

READ MORE: 6 Things You Should Know About Wyatt Earp

On the morning of October 25, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury came into Tombstone for supplies. Over the next 24 hours, the two men had several violent run-ins with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday. Around 1:30 p.m. on October 26, Ike’s brother Billy rode into town to join them, along with Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne. The first person they met in the local saloon was Holliday, who was delighted to inform them that their brothers had both been pistol-whipped by the Earps. Frank and Billy immediately left the saloon, vowing revenge.

Around 3 p.m., the Earps and Holliday spotted the five members of the Clanton-McLaury gang in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral, at the end of Fremont Street. The famous gunfight that ensued lasted all of 30 seconds, and around 30 shots were fired. Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.

Sheriff John Behan of Cochise County, who witnessed the shootout, charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. A month later, however, a Tombstone judge found the men not guilty, ruling that they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.” The famous shootout has been immortalized in many movies, including Frontier Marshal (1939), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994).

READ MORE: Wyatt Earp: His Life and Legacy


O.K. Corral (building)

The O.K. Corral (Old Kindersley [2] ) was a livery and horse corral from 1879 to about 1888 in the mining boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, in the southwestern United States near the border with Mexico.

Despite its association with the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the historic gunfight did not take place within or next to the corral on Allen Street, but in a narrow lot on Fremont Street, six doors west of the rear entrance to the corral. The lot was between Harwood's home and C. S. Fly's 12-room boarding house and photography studio. [3]

The 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral made the shootout famous and the public was incorrectly led to believe it was the actual location of the altercation. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the corral is marketed as the location of the shootout, and visitors can pay to see a re-enactment of the gunfight. The corral is now part of the Tombstone Historic District.


1881: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

On this day in the town of Tombstone in Arizona, one of the most famous confrontations in the history of the Wild West took place. Two gangs that fought for supremacy in Tombstone clashed. One was made up of law enforcers – the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil) with Doc Holliday, the other one of their cowboy enemies – the Clanton and the McLaury brothers.

O.K. Corral was a fenced place for horses in that town (O.K. stands for Old Kindersley). The gunfight actually took place about six doors down from Corral, so a more correct name would be “the gunfight near the O.K. Corral”. The gunfight lasted for only 30 seconds.

About thirty rounds were fired. Frank and Tom McLaury were killed, and so was Billy Clanton. Morgan and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton, leader of the cowboy gang, who was the most responsible for the showdown, escaped unharmed even before the shooting began. He retired to his ranch and abandoned the struggle for supremacy over the small town.


In October 1881 an ordinance was passed in Tombstone prohibiting the carrying of weapons in town. This riled the ‘cowboys’, who were used to carrying their weapons wherever they pleased. As town marshal, Virgil Earp was responsible for enforcing the law and wanted to disarm the offenders.

A heated argument took place between Doc Holliday and Ike Clanton at the Alhambra saloon on the night of October 25, 1881. The fight was broken up, but Clanton continued to drink into the morning. Making threats against Holliday and the Earps, Clanton was armed with several guns, accounts say.

Virgil Earp disarmed Clanton, took him before a judge, who imposed a fine before letting him go. Ike, infuriated, sought out a group of five cowboys, including his brother Billy and the McLaurys, and went with them to Fremont Street. They spread the word that they were armed and intended to remain so. Sheriff Behan met the cowboys and tried to talk them into surrendering their weapons but failed. Sources differ: Some say the cowboys either denied having guns on them or refused to surrender them.

Behan then met with Virgil Earp, who had deputised his brothers and Doc Holliday. The sheriff tried to convince the Earps to back off, but they pressed on, finding the Clantons and the McLaurys in a lot near the Old Kindersley Corral.

Shots erupted, but no one knows who fired first. The fight was over as quickly as it began. Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury were dead. Ike Clanton and two other cowboys had escaped the same fate. On the Earps’ side, all survived, but only Wyatt remained unharmed.

Under Tombstone law, policemen were in the right if they shot armed opponents threatening to kill. After the shooting, Ike Clanton accused the marshal’s group of firing at five unarmed men, leading Sheriff Behan to arrest the Earp brothers and Holliday, accusing them of murder. During a preliminary hearing that lasted a month, it was proven that two of the cowboys had been armed. The judge threw out the trial, but lingering doubts about the Earps’ true intentions that day would remain.


Brothers against brothers

By 1881 Tombstone had a population of more than 7,000 and was the seat of the newly formed Cochise County. The area was thriving but had a notorious reputation for being rough and lawless. The Earps were drawn to Tombstone by the promise of fortune from the silver rush. Wyatt Earp had served as a police officer in Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas, before he moved to Tombstone in late 1879. With him came his brother, Virgil, a miner and soldier who would become Tombstone’s town marshal in 1880. (This is how Jesse James became an infamous outlaw.)

Morgan, a younger brother of Wyatt and Virgil, joined his siblings in Tombstone that same year. Shortly after came a man who had befriended Wyatt Earp in Dodge City: Doc Holliday, a former dentist from Georgia turned gambler and gunfighter. All the brothers had other income that was unrelated to law enforcement, with stakes in mines and saloons and occasional work as bartenders and private security.

The Earp-Holliday faction had rivals in Tombstone: the cowboys. The Clanton and the McLaury brothers had a reputation as outlaws and were known to make their living thanks to cattle rustling. Beef shortages in the growing towns had given them a way of making easy money. They would rustle cattle on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Keen to meet demand, the butchers in Tombstone were not particularly fussy about the meat’s origins, particularly if it was from the other side of the frontier. The first source of tension between the cowboys and the Earps was over some stolen mules that the Earps tracked down to the McLaury ranch. The McLaurys, meanwhile, accused the Earps of acting for their own benefit instead of acting as law officers. (Will cowboy poetry survive the modern era?)

Location, location, location

The shoot-out between the Earps and the cowboys did not technically take place at the Old Kindersley horse corral. The actual location was a vacant lot at the end of Fremont Street, Tombstone’s main thoroughfare, which was located behind the O.K. Corral.


Other OK Corral Gunfight Experiences

Shoot-out at the OK Corral Anniversary Tour: October 26

Walking the Historical Gunfight's Streets on the Anniversary Tour

Yearly on the Anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, the OK Corral Gunfight Site sponsors a Free Tour. If you're in Tombstone on this day, we highly recommend it.

There's nothing like hearing the turn of events on the anniversary of this historical day! Here are some details:

  • Walking Tour covering the streets where the men involved walked prior to the gunfight
  • If it's being sponsored, it will be held just after the Gunfight Site's closing time, about 5 pm
  • Stop at the OK Corral Gunfight Site ticket desk during the day to let them know you're interested in the tour. They'll give you a ticket
  • Everyone gathers on Allen Street in front of the OK Corral at the time of the Tour's start
  • One of the "Earps" takes you through the happenings of that day, as you walk the same streets they did all those years ago

Don't Miss Out - Stay in the Loop! Subscribe to Tombstone Tips Today!!

With Sign Up - Wyatt Earp in Dodge City Timeline & Tombstone Photo Album for Download

Tombstone Walking Tours by Dr. Jay

Dr. Jay Explains the Lowdown on the OK Corral Gunfight

Local resident, Dr. Jay, schedules regular walking tours through the streets of Tombstone. He covers the incidents surrounding the Gunfight at the OK Corral in his interesting and entertaining guided walk around town. See the details of his and other Tombstone Walking Tours>

Mobilized Tours

Other Tours through town go over the affairs surrounding the shoot-out. The Gunfight at the OK Corral is so identified with Tombstone Arizona, that most tours cover it to some degree. Two general tours you can consider will give you an overview of the gunfight:

  • Stagecoach Tours - These are fun! Take transportation that was common for people living in the days of the Wild West! Hear an overview of Tombstone's history, as well as the OK Corral Shoot-out. Find out more on the Gunfight Via Stagecoach>
  • Trolley Tours - Tombstone Trolleys take you to areas that Stagecoaches don't cover. They do a little overlapping. The narration is exceptional! They cover info on the Gunfight, as well as other interesting historical events/areas. So Travel the Trolley>

Any of These Tours Are Worth Your While - We've Taken Them, and Recommend Any of Them!

The OK Corral Gunfight EventsOctober 26, 1881 Summary

Preceding Gunfight Events

The immediate prelude to the Gunfight at the OK Corral began the day before, on October the 25th. Two area ranchers, known as Cochise County Cow-boys arrived in Tombstone around lunchtime. They were Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury. Their intent was to do errands, and then hit the saloons for enjoyment.

Wyatt Earp had previously made a deal with Ike. Wyatt had been vying for the position of Cochise County Sheriff the next year. He thought capturing recent stage robbers would improve his chances.

His deal with Ike was for help in capturing those robbers. Ike had ties to the culprits. Wyatt offered him the (dead or alive) reward money, he only wanted renown for the capture. Ike agreed, with assurances his involvement would be kept secret.

Meanwhile the stage robbers were gunned down & killed by stockmen: the Haslett Brothers. Ike realized the deal was off. He now figured Wyatt had no reason to keep quiet about their agreement. He'd never been friendly with the Earps. Now his relationship deteriorated further.

Ike Growls

On October 25th, Ike Clanton and Frank McLaury were in Tombstone bars, drinking and gambling throughout the day and into the night. As their intoxication level increased their mood soured. By one in the morning of the 26th, Ike went to the Occidental's lunch counter to eat.਍oc Hollidayਊnd Morgan Earp were there.

Some say Doc was irritable, and both he and Ike began getting at each other. It's unclear who began it all, but both were obviously inebriated. They cursed each other, with Doc finally telling Ike to get out his gun. Ike told him he wasn't armed. Doc said "Go arm yourself then." 1 ਊpparently Ike went off to do just that.

Oddly he returned and began playing poker with Tom, Virgil Earpਊnd a few others. But Ike still griped about how Doc had treated him. When the game ended at about 6 am, he walked in the street by Virgil. Ike complained to Virgil the "son of a bitch has got to fight." He replied to Ike, "I am an officer. I am going down home now to go to bed, I don't want you to raise any disturbance while I am in bed."  2  

Ike Violates the Gun Law

Ike Clanton interacted with some others in town, roaming around with a Winchester complaining about Doc Holliday and the Earps. City Ordinance No. 9 did not allow gun carry within the town limits without a special permit. Word spread that there was going to be an encounter.

When Virgil awoke, he heard of Ike's actions. He called on Wyatt and Morgan. Together they found Ike about lunchtime. On 4th Street, North of Allen, Virgil went to Ike from the rear. He struck him on the side of his head with his pistol, causing a bloody injury. He took Ike's guns and brought him to court. While Justice Wallace fined him $25 and $2.50 in costs, Ike continuously chewed out the Earps.

That morning Tom McLaury heard of Ike's arrest and court proceedings. He put up his own gun, as the law required, at the Capitol Saloon and went to find Ike. Nearby the court Wyatt appeared and asked Tom if he was armed. He said no. Wyatt slapped his face and then used his old Dodge City tactic: clunking him hard on the head with his pistol. Tom fell to the ground, and Wyatt left him there.

Cow-boy Brothers

Inside Big Nose Kate's

Shortly after this, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, Ike and Tom's brothers, also arrived in Tombstone. They went into the Grand Hotel (now where Big Nose Kate's is located) and greeted Doc Holliday, shaking hands. Others there let them know what happened that morning with the Earps and their brothers.

Frank and Billy went to find them, locating Ike and Tom at Spangenberg's Gun Shop, where Ike purchased a gun. Frank secured his horse on the sidewalk in front, prohibited by town ordinance. Wyatt came along, and purposely moved Frank's horse into the street. There was a heated, wordy exchange!

Virgil came along, but made no arrests, since it seemed the McLaurys and Clantons intended to leave town. Sheriff Behan also interceded as they headed out, confirming they weren't in violation if they were leaving town.

The O.K Corral

Tom & Frank, and Ike & Billy walked through Dunbar's Stable toward the OK Corral. They gathered in a vacant lot west of C.S. Fly's boarding house and photo gallery. That's Northwest of the current OK Corral entrance. A friend of Billy Clanton came by, Billy Claiborne. They stood a bit, talking over the morning's events. Frank and Billy Clanton saddled up, getting ready to ride out.

At the same time, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp got together with Doc Holliday. They weren't pleased at hearing how the Cow-boys had been mouthing off around town of the Earps' treatment of them that morning.

They felt these Cowboys might not actually be leaving town. And if not, Virgil planned "to take away their arms, intimidate them, and again show them who was boss." 3  

Walking West on Fremont Street, Sheriff Behan tried calling them off. [See a paper related to his court testimony: pages 13 & 29 -਌lick Here>]  But they brushed past him, and continued on.

The Drama of the Gunfight

The Shoot-out is Imminent.

As the Earps entered the lot, Claiborne sensed the ominous tone and left. The Earps went right up to the Clantons and McLaurys. Virgil said "Boys, throw up your hands, I want your guns." 4 ਊnother voice said (many think it was Wyatt) "you have been looking for a fight, and now you can have it." ਅ

Then the firing started! Quickly it all happened. It's hard to say with whom it began, it was essentially simultaneously. All told, when it began, there was about a bullet a second for half a minute!

Morgan's first shot hit Billy's wrist, hampering his shooting efforts. He was further hit in the chest and gut, but still managed to empty his gun.਌.S. Flyꃊme out of his shop and took Billy's gun as he was calling for more ammo. 6

Tom was shot in the chest, close-range, by Doc. 7  He wobbled down the street to the corner, and fell over. Unconscious, he lay there while the gunfight was ending. 8 ਏrank was mortally wounded when hit in the head. 9

Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead by day's end. Virgil Earp was shot in the right leg, Morgan Earp took bullets across the back hitting both shoulder blades. Doc Holliday was just grazed at his hip. Wyatt wasn't at all harmed. Ike Clanton fled the scene as the shooting began. 10

Aftermath

The next day town folk watched a procession to the Town Cemetery:਋oothill. Funeral wagons carried the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton. A banner on the front wagon proclaimed "Murdered on the Streets of Tombstone."

Talk in Tombstone was split over the blame. The two main newspapers, as well. The Epitaph supported the Earps, the Nugget supported the Cow-boys.

The aftermath of the Gunfight at the OK Corral took on a life of its own. The Shootoutਊt the OK Corral became an infamous story. Some of the players stuck to their guns in seeking their own justice:

  • The Cow-boys, especially Ike Clanton, continued on via the law
  • The Earps, especially Wyatt, felt their reputation was wronged. And subsequent actions by the Cow-boys provoked further actions on Wyatt's part.
  • That led to another Chapter in the story of Wyatt Earp.

References

1 Ike Clanton testimony, Turner, OK Corral Inquest , p. 33.

2 Virgil Earp disposition, Turner, OK Corral Inquest , p.191.

3 Bailey, L.R. (2004) Too tough to die : The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp 1878 to 1990 .  Tucson: Westernlore Press.

4  Linder, Douglas, ed. (2005). "Testimony of Virgil Earp in the Preliminary Hearing in the Earp Case". Famous trials: The O. K. Corral trial. Retrieved 10 August 2017. From Turner, Alford (Ed.), The O. K. Corral Inquest (1992)

5  Bailey, L.R. (2004)  Too tough to die : The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp 1878 to 1990 . Tucson: Westernlore Press.

6   Turner, Alford E. (1981). The OK Corral Inquest. College Station, Texas: Creative Publishing company. ISBN 0-932702-16-3.

7   Weir, William (2009). History's Greatest Lies: the Startling Truths Behind World Events our History Books Got Wrong. Beverly, Mass.: Fair Winds Press. p. 288. ISBN 1-59233-336-2.

8 "Another Chapter in the Bloody Episode". Famous Trials. Retrieved 10 August 2017.

10  Bailey, L.R. (2004)  Too tough to die : The rise, fall, and resurrection of a silver camp 1878 to 1990 .  Tucson: Westernlore Press.


Just history.

Tombstone in 1881(Google images )

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. In a gun fight… You need to take your time in a hurry.”

Words couldn’t have been truer than those spoken by Wyatt Earp. A total of thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds in the most famous shootout in the history of the American Old West. I will of course follow this article up with more about Wyatt’s vendetta, and biographies of the key players, but for now I will concentrate on the infamous gunfight itself.

Tombstone, Arizona is located near the Mexican border. The Earps arrived on December 1, 1879, when the small town was mostly composed of tents as living quarters, a few saloons and other buildings, and the mines. Virgil Earp had been hired as Deputy U.S. Marshal for eastern Pima County, with his offices in Tombstone, only days before his arrival. In June 1881 he was also appointed as Tombstone’s town marshal. The Earps were not universally liked by the townspeople but they tended to protect the interests of the town’s business owners and residents. Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan was generally sympathetic to the interests of the rural ranchers and Cowboys. (the term “cowboy” generally meant an outlaw) Legitimate cowmen were referred to as cattle herders or ranchers. The Cowboys (supposedly led by Johnny Ringo) viewed the Earps as badge-toting tyrants who ruthlessly enforced the business interests of the town especially their own. The Cochise County Cowboys were not a gang but a loosely organized band of friends who committed crimes.

The long feud between Cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury, and opposing lawmen: town Marshal Virgil Earp, Assistant Town Marshal Morgan Earp, and temporary deputy marshals Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday finally came to a head after weeks of death threats by Ike Clanton (he reportedly drank a lot). An argument between Ike and Holliday reportedly started in the Alhambra Saloon. Morgan escorted Holliday out onto the street and Ike, who had been drinking steadily, followed them. Virgil arrived a few minutes later and threatened to arrest both Holliday and Ike Clanton if they did not stop arguing. Ike and Wyatt talked again a few minutes later, and Ike threatened to confront Holliday in the morning. Ike told Wyatt that the fighting talk had been going on for a long time and that he intended to put an end to it. Ike told Wyatt, “I will be ready for you in the morning.” Wyatt walked over to the Oriental Saloon and Ike followed him. Ike sat down to have another drink, his revolver in plain sight, and told Wyatt “You must not think I won’t be after you all in the morning.” Wyatt took Holliday back to his boarding house to sleep off his drinking, then went home and to bed. Virgil played cards with Ike Clanton, Tom McLaury, Sheriff Behan and a fifth unknown man, until morning.

At about dawn on October 26, the card game broke up and Behan and Virgil Earp went home to bed. Shortly after 8:00 am barkeeper E. F. Boyle spoke to Ike, who had been drinking all night, in front of the telegraph office. Boyle encouraged him to get some sleep, but Ike insisted he would not go to bed. Boyle later testified he noticed Ike was armed and covered his gun for him, recalling that Ike told him “‘As soon as the Earps and Doc Holliday showed themselves on the street, the ball would open—that they would have to fight’… I went down to Wyatt Earp’s house and told him what Ike said. Ike’s own testimony said that he remembered neither meeting Boyle nor making any such statements that day.

Later in the morning, Ike picked up his rifle and revolver from the West End Corral, where he had stabled his wagon and team and deposited his weapons after entering town. (When entering the town you had to deposit your weapons) By noon that day, Ike was drinking and once-again armed and told others he was looking for Holliday or an Earp. At about 1:00 pm, Virgil and Morgan Earp surprised Ike on 4th Street where Virgil pistol-whipped him from behind. Disarming him, the Earps took Ike to appear before Judge Wallace for violating the city’s ordinance against carrying firearms in the city. While Wyatt waited with Clanton, Virgil went to find Judge Wallace so the court hearing could be held. Ike was fined $25 plus court costs and after paying the fine left unarmed. He reportedly was able to pick up his weapons at the gun drop off location.

Annotated 1886 fire map of Tombstone indicating the actual shootout location (in green) and the O.K. Corral (in yellow) on the other side of the block. ( Google images )

As Ike was released, Tom McLaury (who arrived in town the day before) ran into Wyatt, who demanded, “Are you heeled or not?”, McLaury said he was not armed. Wyatt testified that he saw a revolver in plain sight on the right hip of Tom’s pants. As an unpaid deputy marshal for Virgil, Wyatt carried a pistol in his waistband, as was the custom of that time. Witnesses reported that Wyatt drew his revolver from his coat pocket and pistol whipped Tom McLaury with it twice, leaving him prostrate and bleeding on the street. Saloon-keeper Andrew Mehan testified at the Spicer Hearing afterward that he saw McLaury deposit a revolver at the Capital Saloon sometime between 1-2:00 pm, after the confrontation with Wyatt, which Mehan also witnessed.
Wyatt said in his deposition afterward that he had been temporarily acting as city marshal for Virgil the week before while Virgil was in Tucson for the Pete Spence and Frank Stilwell trial. Wyatt said that he still considered himself a deputy city marshal, which Virgil later confirmed. Since Wyatt was an off-duty officer, he could not legally search or arrest Tom for carrying a revolver within the city limits. Wyatt, a non-drinker, testified at the Spicer hearing that he went to Haffords and bought a cigar and went outside to watch the Cowboys. At the time of the gunfight about two hours later, Wyatt could not know if Tom was still armed.

It was early afternoon by the time Ike and Tom had seen doctors for their head wounds. The day was chilly, with snow still on the ground in some places. Both Tom and Ike had spent the night gambling, drinking heavily, and without sleep. Now they were both out and about with head wounds, and Ike was still drunk. Around 1:30–2:00 pm, Ike’s 19-year-old younger brother Billy Clanton and Tom’s older brother Frank McLaury arrived in town. Both Frank and Billy were armed with a revolver and a rifle, as was the custom for riders in the country outside Tombstone. They had come to back up their brothers after they heard Ike and Tom had been stirring up trouble.They learned immediately after of their brothers’ beatings by the Earps within the previous two hours. The incidents had generated a lot of talk in town. Angrily, Frank said he would not drink, and he and Billy left the saloon immediately to seek Tom. By law, both Frank and Billy should have left their firearms at the Grand Hotel. Instead, they remained fully armed.

Sheriff Behan later testified that he first learned of the trouble while he was getting a shave at the barbershop after 1:30 pm, which is when he had risen after the late-night card game. Behan stated he immediately went to locate the Cowboys. At about 2:30 pm he saw Ike, Frank, Tom, and Billy gathered off Fremont street. Behan attempted to persuade Frank McLaury to give up his weapons, but Frank insisted that he would only give up his guns after City Marshal Virgil Earp and his brothers were disarmed.

A miner named Ruben F. Coleman told Virgil that the Cowboys had left the Dunbar and Dexter Stable for the O.K. Corral and were still armed, and Virgil decided they had to disarm them. (The actual gunfight did not happen by the O.K Corral) Virgil picked up his 10-gauge or 12-gauge, short, double-barreled shotgun from the Wells Fargo office around the corner on Allen Street. It was a cold and windy day in Tombstone, and Virgil was wearing a long overcoat. To avoid alarming Tombstone’s public, Virgil hid the shotgun under his overcoat when he returned to Hafford’s Saloon. He gave the shotgun to Doc Holliday who hid it under his overcoat. He took Holliday’s walking-stick in return. From Spangenberg’s, the Cowboys moved to the O.K. Corral where witnesses overheard them threatening to kill the Earps. For unknown reasons the Cowboys then walked out the back of the O.K. Corral and then west, stopping in an the narrow, empty lot next to C. S. Fly’s boarding house.
Virgil was told by several citizens that the McLaurys and the Clantons had gathered on Fremont Street and were armed. He decided he had to act. Several members of the citizen’s vigilance committee offered to support him with arms, but Virgil said no. He had during the prior month appointed Morgan as a Special Policeman. He had also appointed Wyatt as a Special Policemen while Virgil had been in Prescott on business. He had also called on Doc Holliday that morning for help with disarming the Clantons and McLaurys.

The Earps carried their usual revolvers in their coat pockets or in their waistbands. Wyatt was carrying a .44 caliber 1869 American model Smith & Wesson. Holliday was wearing a nickel-plated pistol in a holster, but this was concealed by his long coat, as was the shotgun. The Earps and Holliday walked west, down the south side of Fremont Street past the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral, but out of visual range of the Cowboys’ last reported location. The Earps then saw the Cowboys and Sheriff Behan, who left the group and came toward them, though he looked nervously backward several times. Virgil testified later that Behan told them, “For God’s sake, don’t go down there or they will murder you!” Wyatt said Behan told him and Morgan, “I have disarmed them.” Behan testified afterward that he’d only said he’d gone down to the Cowboys “for the purpose of disarming them,” not that he’d actually disarmed them.

Graves of Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton at Boot Hill (Google images )

When Behan said he had disarmed them, Virgil attempted to avoid a fight. “I had a walking stick in my left hand and my hand was on my six-shooter in my waist pants, and when he said he had disarmed them, I shoved it clean around to my left hip and changed my walking stick to my right hand.” Wyatt said I “took my pistol, which I had in my hand, under my coat, and put it in my overcoat pocket.” The Earps walked down Fremont street and came into full view of the Cowboys. Wyatt testified he saw “Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, and Billy Clanton standing in a row against the east side of the building on the opposite side of the vacant space west of Fly’s photograph gallery. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne and a man I don’t know (Wes Fuller) were standing in the vacant space about halfway between the photograph gallery and the next building west.”

Virgil testified that he immediately commanded the Cowboys to “Throw up your hands, I want your guns!” Wyatt said Virgil told the Cowboys, “Throw up your hands I have come to disarm you!” Virgil and Wyatt both testified they saw Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton draw and cock their six-shooters. Virgil yelled: “Hold! I don’t mean that!” or “Hold on, I don’t want that!” The single-action revolvers carried by both groups had to be cocked before firing. Who started shooting first is not certain accounts by both participants and eyewitnesses are contradictory but at 3:00 p.m. the gunfight commenced. No one actually knows which side actually drew their guns first but its believed that Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton in the chest at point-blank range, while Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaury with a blast from his double-barreled shotgun. Wyatt Earp shot Frank McLaury in the stomach, and the wounded man staggered out into the street but managed to pull his gun and return fire.

When the gun smoke cleared Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed. Ike Clanton, who had repeatedly threatened to kill the Earps, claimed he was unarmed and ran from the fight along with Billy Claiborne. Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday were wounded, but Wyatt Earp was unharmed.
The bodies of the three dead Cowboys were displayed in a window at Ritter and Reams undertakers with a sign: “Murdered in the Streets of Tombstone.” The Tombstone Nugget proclaimed:

“The 26th of October, 1881, will always be marked as one of the crimson days in the annals of Tombstone, a day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as a shuttle cock, a day to be remembered as witnessing the bloodiest and deadliest street fight that has ever occurred in this place, or probably in the Territory.”

The funerals for Billy Clanton (age 19), Tom McLaury (age 28) and his older brother Frank (age 33) were attended by around 300 people who had joined in the procession to Boot Hill and as many as two thousand watched from the sidewalks. Both McLaureys were buried in the same grave, and Billy Clanton was buried nearby. Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Doc Holliday. The lawmen were eventually exonerated by local Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer after a 30-day preliminary hearing, and then by a local grand jury famously known as the Spicer Hearings on November 30. Spicer did not condone all of the Earps’ actions and criticized Virgil Earp’s use of Wyatt and Holliday as deputies, but he concluded that no laws were broken. He said the evidence indicated that the Earps and Holliday acted within the law and that Holliday and Wyatt had been properly deputized by Virgil.


In Fort Griffin, Texas, Ed Bailey comes looking to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of gunslinger John H. "Doc" Holliday. Seeing him in a bar, Holliday's girl, Kate Fisher, returns to Holliday's room, where the two argue while Holliday throws knives at the door - near her once she brings up Holliday's once-prominent family. Well-known marshal Wyatt Earp arrives in Fort Griffin thinking he will take outlaws Ike Clanton and Johnny Ringo into custody, but instead finds out that the local sheriff, Cotton Wilson, released them despite the outstanding warrants for their arrest. Holliday refuses to help the lawman, holding a grudge against Wyatt's brother, Morgan. Holliday kills Bailey with a knife-throw when Bailey attempts to shoot him in the back. Holliday is arrested for murder, though Wyatt and Kate allow him to escape from a lynch mob.

In Dodge City, Kansas, Wyatt finds out that Holliday and Kate are in town. Holliday tells him he has no money, so Wyatt allows him to stay if he promises to not fight while he is in town. Meanwhile, gambler Laura Denbow is arrested for playing cards since women are not allowed to gamble. She is released and allowed to play in the side rooms of the saloon. Wyatt is forced to deputize Holliday because a bank robber kills a cashier and Wyatt's other deputies are out in a posse catching another outlaw. The bank robbers attempt to ambush Wyatt outside of town, but are instead killed by Wyatt and Holliday.

Back in Dodge City, Holliday learns Kate has left him for Johnny Ringo, who taunts Holliday to a shootout and throws liquor on him. Holliday steadfastly refuses to fight him. Shanghai Pierce and his henchmen ride into town, wound deputy Charlie Bassett and attack a dancehall, but Wyatt and Holliday hold the men and defuse the situation. As Ringo attempts to intervene, Holliday shoots him in the arm. Holliday returns to his room and Kate is waiting for him, but he refuses to take her back. Kate swears she will see him dead. By now, Wyatt and Laura have fallen in love, but when he receives a letter from his brother Virgil, asking him to help clean up Tombstone, Arizona, she refuses to go with him unless he changes. Holliday catches up to Wyatt on the trail and both head to Tombstone.

In Tombstone, Wyatt finds out that Ike Clanton is trying to herd thousands of head of rustled Mexican cattle but cannot as long as the Earps control Tombstone's railway station. Morgan Earp criticizes his brother's association with Holliday, but Wyatt insists the gunslinger is welcome in Tombstone as long as he stays out of trouble. Cotton offers Wyatt a $20,000 bribe if he allows the stolen cattle to be shipped, but Wyatt refuses. He rides out to the Clanton ranch, returning young Billy Clanton to his mother after finding Billy drunk. Wyatt informs Ike that he has been made a U.S. Marshal and has legal authority in every county in the United States. Finding no recourse, the Clantons decide to ambush Wyatt as he makes his nightly rounds, but kill his younger brother James Earp by mistake.

The next morning, Ike and five of his henchman go to Tombstone to face off against the Earps at the O.K. Corral. Holliday, who is sick from tuberculosis, joins them. Though Virgil and Morgan are wounded in the gunfight, all six in Clanton's gang are killed, including Billy, who is given a chance to surrender but refuses. After the fight is over, Wyatt joins Holliday for a final drink before heading off to California to meet Laura, as promised.

    – Marshal Wyatt Earp – Doc Holliday – Laura Denbow – Kate Fisher – Johnny Ringo – Ike Clanton – Sheriff Cotton Wilson – Deputy Sheriff Charlie Bassett – Shanghai Pierce – Billy Clanton – John Clum – John Shanssey – Virgil Earp – Morgan Earp – James 'Jimmy' Earp – Ed Bailey – Tom McLowery
  • Peter Lawman – Jack Morgan – Rick – Bat Masterson

There are historical inaccuracies contained in the film depiction of the Gunfight at O.K. Corral:

    was already a deputy U.S. Marshal when he arrived in Tombstone, while Wyatt had little, if any, legal authority.
  • Wyatt came to Tombstone with a common-law wife, whom he later sent away to stay with his family—in order to get her away from opiates.
  • The real gunfight was a 30-second long, face-to-face affair with only a few firearms, not a medium-range, heavily armed shootout as in the film.
  • The real corral was considerably smaller and simpler than depicted in the film (or in the previous movie, My Darling Clementine) was not present at the OK Corral gunfight. He later killed himself.
  • Ike Clanton brought murder charges against the Earps and Doc Holliday. The Cowboys claimed the Earps had killed the outlaws as they attempted to surrender. During the Spicer hearing, the coroner and witnesses presented conflicting evidence about whether the Cowboys had their hands in the air or guns in their hands or were trying to draw their weapons when the fighting started.
  • Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded and Holliday was grazed by a bullet. Wyatt was unhurt.
  • Judge Wells Spicer ruled that the lawmen acted within their authority.
  • It was Wyatt's younger brother Morgan, not James (Wyatt's older brother), who was ambushed and murdered in Tombstone. This occurred after the O.K. Corral gunfight, not before. Virgil Earp was also ambushed in Tombstone after the O.K. Corral fight. He survived the attack, but was left with a permanently disabled arm.
  • The actual gunfight took place in a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral, next to a boarding house and photography studio, not in the corral itself. It was not an "event by appointment", as the prearrangement between Billy and Wyatt the night before depicts in the movie. It evolved the morning of the fight as the Earps responded to the chaos and threats raised by Ike Clanton after drinking himself into a rage the entire night before.
  • James Earp was the older brother of Wyatt and never involved in the law enforcement side of the family. He was present in Tombstone but worked as a bartender. Warren Earp was the youngest of the Earp brothers and bounced from Tombstone to California between 1880 and 1882.
  • Ike Clanton was never the leader of the Cowboys. Old Man Clanton controlled the gang until he was killed in 1881 and leadership of the gang fell to Curly Bill Brocis and Johnny Ringo.
  • The film introduces a romance involving Wyatt Earp and a fictional character (based on Lottie Deno) which played no factor in the actual gunfight nor did anything to advance the film's plot. was Wyatt's boss in Dodge City. The film portrays the relationship as the other way around. Bassett and Wyatt Earp were nearly the same age. The film portrays Bassett as a younger man compared to Wyatt. did not directly follow Wyatt to Tombstone. He turned-up there sometime after Wyatt had already established residence.
  • Doc Holliday saved Wyatt Earp's life, not the other way around.
  • The real sheriff's name was John Behan, not Cotton Wilson. The sheriff was not shot that day, and the Clanton gang did not shoot one of their own for deserting.
  • The shootout is portrayed in the film as a protracted, heavily armed firefight that took place at medium range. The actual event began in a narrow 15–20 feet (4.6–6.1 m) wide empty lot [4] between the Harwood house and C. S. Fly's 12-room boarding house and photography studio. The two parties were initially only about 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3.0 m) apart, and the real gunfight lasted only about 30 seconds.

Part of the movie was shot on the set of Paramount Ranch. [5] [6]

Reviews in 1957 were generally positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the film as "firmly directed" and "ruggedly acted," though he lamented "odd, embarrassing moments when Cupid lets fly with his arrows," and thought that the inclusion of a ballad was too derivative of High Noon. [7] Variety called Lancaster and Douglas "excellently cast" and added, "in its development and exciting climax John Sturges has captured the stirring spirit of the period in his sock direction." [8] Harrison's Reports agreed that the two leads were "excellent in their respective roles" and found the action "tense and suspenseful throughout, culminating in a highly exciting and thrilling gun battle." [9] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post deemed the film "just what its title suggests — blood-thirsty, empty-headed and good fun of its sort." [10] The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "carefully and lavishly mounted, but it is ultimately overlong and overwrought. Leon Uris's script dulls the final scene of action by the introduction of too many minor climaxes, which never blend." [11]

The film was a big hit and earned $4.7 million on its first run and $6 million on re-release. [3] Its Dimitri Tiomkin score, featuring the song "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", with lyrics by Ned Washington, sung by Frankie Laine, pushes the movie's momentum relentlessly throughout. [12]

Members of the Western Writers of America chose the song "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. [13]

Sturges revisited the same material a decade later when he directed a more historically accurate sequel of sorts, Hour of the Gun, starring James Garner as Wyatt Earp, Jason Robards as Doc Holliday, and Robert Ryan as Ike Clanton. That film begins with a more accurate version of the O.K. Corral gun battle, then moves forward into the aftermath for the balance of the movie.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards to Best Film Editing (Warren Low) and Best Sound Recording (George Dutton). [14] Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas were nominated for Golden Laurel in the category of top male action star. [15]


The O.K. Corral: The Gunfight of All Gunfights

The Wild, Wild West would not be the, well, Wild West that we know today without the O.K. Corral and the famous gunfight that erupted there on a late October afternoon in 1881.

The romanticized version of the American cowboy, tin stars, quick draw gunfights, saloons on dusty streets, and unending desert landscapes wouldn't hold such a firm place in our consciousness if not for this infamous showdown. The one between tough-nosed lawmen and some hard-headed outlaws in the town of Tombstone, near the Mexican border in the Arizona Territory.

But just to clarify: The shootout wasn't even in a corral at all. It turns out, the shootout took place in a vacant lot, next to a photo studio and a boarding house.

Second point of clarification: Nobody ever called the standoff "the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" until Hollywood sunk its claws into the story in the late 1950s. The deadly scrap was well-known by historians, but to them it was just a fight. It wasn't "the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" until 1957's Burt Lancaster-Kirk Douglas blockbuster, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."

Which, you have to admit, does sound way cooler than "Gunfight in a Vacant Lot."

"That doesn't play well. But 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' is magic. It's all in a name. Everything's in the name," says Marshall Trimble, Arizona's official state historian. "I've written about 25 books and the hardest part of the whole thing is coming up with a catchy name."

The Backstory of Tombstone

In true Western fashion, the cast of the real-life fight is easily broken into two groups.

The "Good Guys" were the lawmen in an otherwise lawless part of the Arizona Territory. They were Tombstone Marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Morgan and Wyatt (both officially special policemen), and temporary policeman (and Wyatt Earp friend) John Henry "Doc" Holliday.

The "Bad Guys" were known as the "Cowboys," a cow-rustling, horse-thieving group of no-good cusses who didn't like the iron-handed Earps or anything to do with the law. They were Billy Claiborne, brothers Ike and Billy Clanton, and brothers Frank and Tom McLaury.

These two groups hated each other.

Long story short. Between 1879 and 1880, Tombstone's population exploded with prospectors searching for silver ore and the town needed law enforcement. Town leaders wanted men like Virgil and Wyatt Earp because they had solid reputations as gunfighters and lawmen.

But the Clanton and McLaury families, who were prominent ranchers, formed their own coalition, known as the Cowboys, and they were against the Earp brothers and the law, even though the Earps had support from Tombstone's leading businessmen, including Mayor John Clum and mining tycoon E.B. Gage.

Needless to say, the two groups had a history of run-ins. The Cowboys didn't recognize Virgil Earp as marshal or his legal authority, and the Cowboys despised the fact that Earp and his "lawmen" often used possibly extra-legal methods to enforce the law.

The Gunfight of All Gunfights

In late 1881, it was against the law to carry weapons within the Tombstone town limits. Virgil Earp let that be known to the Cowboys. And that's how things started that day.

After some threats and two pistol-whippings — the Earps didn't take any guff from scofflaws, and both Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury tasted a little frontier justice from the handles of the Earps' pistols earlier that day — the two groups squared off at about 3 p.m. Oct. 26. Most estimates put the two groups not much farther than 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart. There were plenty of guns present. Holliday carried a shotgun.

"When [the Cowboys] came into town and Billy [Clanton] saw his brother Ike had been hit, and Frank saw his brother Tom had been cocked, they were spoiling for a fight then," Trimble says. "They made open threats that they were going to kill the Earps. They were overheard, and that's what saved the Earps and Doc from maybe going to a murder trial."

Here, we jump ahead to the firsthand witness account of John H. Behan. He was the sheriff of Cochise County, a political rival to the Earps and a friend to many of the Cowboys, and one of many interviewed afterward during a hearing into the gunfight. This courtesy of the Arizona Memory Project (typos part of the official transcript):

Over the years, dozens and dozens of accounts have been written on the fight, many relying on firsthand accounts like Behan's (and others, here). Some say that at least one of the Cowboys was unarmed. Others refute that claim. Questions arose as to who fired the first shot, and who shot whom. But the toll of the gunfight is not in question.

Once everything had quieted down, three Cowboys — Billy Clanton, just 18 or 19 years old at the time, and both McLaury brothers — were dead.

The fight lasted no more than 30 seconds.

"That was kind of how it played out. In the end, Morgan Earp almost had a fatal wound. The bullet just missed his spine. But it went right clear through his back," Trimble says. "Virgil took a hit in his leg. And Doc just got a scrape.

"Wyatt come through without a scratch. Just like he does in the movies."

The Fallout From the Gunfight

Four days after the fight, Ike Clanton — who had fled once bullets started flying — accused the Earps and Holliday of murder, and Tombstone Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer held a hearing into the throwdown. Behan backed the Cowboys, but others supported the Earps and Holliday.

The verdict, Trimble says, may have hinged on the testimony of Addie Bourland, a local dressmaker, who contradicted the Cowboys who claimed that they had their hands up and should not have been fired upon. An excerpt from her testimony, via Famous Trials, by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Douglas O. Linder:

Despite the damning — and quite probably false — testimony from Ike Clanton and others, Spicer eventually found that the Earps and Holliday were well within their rights and declared that no trial was necessary.

Ike Clanton, bent on revenging the death of his brother and the other Cowboys, is generally thought to be behind the assassination attempt on Virgil Earp in December of that year and the murder of Morgan Earp, who was gunned down in a Tombstone billiard club in early 1882. After Morgan's killing, Wyatt Earp tracked down some of Clanton's cohorts, killing a couple. Clanton was killed by a detective in Springerville, Arizona Territory, in 1887 while resisting arrest.

Wyatt was the last of the O.K. Corral survivors. He died in Los Angeles in 1929, at age 80.

The Gunfight as Legend Today

The gunfight gained near mythic status in 1931, after Stuart Lake — a former press agent for president Theodore Roosevelt and a Hollywood writer — interviewed Wyatt and published a loose biography titled "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal." Then came the movie. A TV series on Wyatt Earp's life and times (starring Hugh O'Brian) ran from 1955 to 1961.

Among the actors who have portrayed Earp (including Lancaster in the 1957 movie, opposite Douglas playing the part of Doc Holliday): Henry Fonda ("My Darling Clementine," 1946), James Garner ("Hour of the Gun," 1967), Kurt Russell ("Tombstone," 1993), Kevin Costner ("Wyatt Earp," 1994) and Val Kilmer ("Wyatt Earp's Revenge," 2012).

Clanton's testimony in the Spicer hearings was the basis of several latter-day recountings of the fight that threw Wyatt Earp's reputation into question.

"I think it's the psychology that people like to believe that a good guy can't be that good. And Wyatt wasn't," Trimble says. "Wyatt had a little shady past — all of them did.

"I tell people, these were sporting men. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson . these guys were sporting men. They ran around with prostitutes, gambled, hung out with an unsavory lot. But Wyatt came from good stock. He came from a good family. Wyatt was a whole lot better than the others. He was just a product of his time."

Tourists now stream into Tombstone to see reenactments — four times a day, except on Thanksgiving and Christmas — of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Beyond Tombstone that face-to-face showdown between a lawless bunch of cowboys and a hardened bunch of lawmen has given Arizona and the entire West a huge part of its identity. Larger even than that, for many visitors, the gunfight is a snapshot of America.

"A lot of Arizonans just roll their eyes when they see these reenactments. But I never complain. And I've seen hundreds of them," Trimble says. "The tourists just love it. They come over here and they want to come to Tombstone, because you can't come to America without coming to Tombstone.

"Gunfighters are America's rendition of King Arthur's Knights of the Roundtable. They are the warriors. People are fascinated by them, because they had a code of their own. And it's an independence — a free-spirited independence. It's what everybody wishes they could be but aren't."

In just about every movie featuring Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday is there. He's been played by, among many others, brothers Dennis and Randy Quaid (Dennis in "Wyatt Earp," 1994, and Randy in "Purgatory," 1999) and by Val Kilmer ("Tombstone," 1993). Kilmer also portrayed Earp in a direct-to-video movie, "Wyatt Earp's Revenge," 2012.


Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp, by Ann Kirschner

The title is catchy, but, no, Josephine&mdashformer lover of Johnny Behan (she called herself Mrs. Johnny Behan for a time) and future lifetime companion of Wyatt Earp&mdashwas not involved in the famous Fremont Street gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, on October 26, 1881, nor was she waiting in the nearby O.K. Corral to see how it all came out. While Kirschner says Josephine &ldquoput on her bonnet&rdquo and raced to the "thunder of the gunshots" to check on Wyatt, most people who have written about the gunfight aren&rsquot even sure that Josephine was in Tombstone that day. Whether Josie was there or not for Wyatt during those infamous and much written about 30 seconds seems of little matter, though, since they would spend nearly a half-century together.

Getting to the bottom of Josephine&rsquos true story is harder than getting the &ldquofacts&rdquo absolutely straight about Johnny or Wyatt. New York City-based author Kirschner (see Interview) makes a point of saying she is Jewish, and that was what drew her to the Jew Josephine. "I quickly became far more interested in Mrs. Earp than in her famous husband," she says. Early on Kirschner provides a statement that grabs one&rsquos attention almost as much as that seminude picture of voluptuous Josephine (see cover of the late Glenn Boyer&rsquos controversial 1976 book, I Married Wyatt Earp) that most everyone now agrees is not actually her: &ldquoThe Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a love story, fought over Josephine Marcus, a woman of beauty and spunk barely out of her teens, escaping the restrictions of birth and seeking adventure, independence and romance." Outlandish? Perhaps, but Wyatt Earp biographer Stuart Lake said something similar about &ldquoJohnny Behan&rsquos girl&rdquo being &ldquothe key to the whole yarn of Tombstone&rdquo&mdashin a letter, not in Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal.

There are plenty of holes in Josephine&rsquos early years and that has allowed for two distinctly different pictures of this beauty from San Francisco. Kirschner discounts the theory that prostitute Sadie Mansfield and Josephine "Sadie" Marcus were one in the same person, adding that &ldquogiven Josephine&rsquos pride and the option of appealing to her parents, it is unlikely that Josephine would have risked even a temporary stint as a prostitute.&rdquo Back in 2001 author Carol Mitchell suggested the two Sadies were the same person, and in 2013 author Roger Jay expanded on that not-so-strange notion. In the February 2013 Wild West History Association Journal Jay writes: &ldquoIn 1874, at the age of 14, Josie Marcus fell in with a San Francisco madam Hattie Wells. Late in November 1874, using the alias Sadie Mansfield, she arrived in Prescott, Arizona, and went to work in Hattie&rsquos brothel.&rdquo

Whatever the truth about her past, Josie at some point stopped being Mrs. Behan and took up with Wyatt. The author does a good job of detailing (though in some places details will always be sketchy) the many post-Tombstone years, with the couple&rsquos time in gold rush Nome, Alaska, overshadowing their travels in California, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Wyatt ran saloons way up north, while Josephine worked hard to withstand the cold. &ldquoMr. and Mrs. Earp had at last made their fortune, enough to follow their inclinations [prospecting in the desert, mostly],&rdquo the author writes. Los Angeles (Hollywood especially) was their last frontier together. One of the more interesting facts is that Albert Behan, son of the Cowboys&rsquo sheriff, remained friendly with both of them. After Wyatt&rsquos death, Josephine&rsquos trail alone mostly involved a flood of manuscripts and would-be manuscripts about Wyatt (she wanted her man to come across as something of a saint) and even herself. Kirschner provides a good read even for those already familiar with most of Josie&rsquos &ldquolove story&rdquo and even though the author really shouldn&rsquot take credit for &ldquowriting her [Josie] back into American history.&rdquo


Watch the video: Gunfight at the OK Corral WILD WEST HISTORY DOCUMENTARY (November 2021).