Although Wyatt Earp lived a long, active, and colorful life, the part we all care about occurred in a few years. Most of it occurred within a few days.
This page is more a skeleton of the “facts” the OK Corral movies are built around than anything else–I wanted to compile a chronology without the baggage the story always carries. I am not an expert on this story, and don’t aspire to become one; what mainly interests me is its longevity, and the interpretations it’s always carried.
A few apparently-reliable links are listed at the bottom.
Gunfight & aftermath:
- OK Gunfight, 10/26/1881.
- Clanton/McLaury funeral, 10/28/1881.
- Earps & Holliday arrested, 10/29/1881.
- Earp pretrial, 11/9 thru 11/12/1881.
- Earps & Holliday acquitted, 11/29/1881.
- Virgil shot, 12/28/1881.
- Morgan shot & killed, 3/18/1882.
- Frank Stillwell killed in Tucson, 3/21/1882.
- Wyatt’s Vendetta.
Earp family moves; & Wyatt’s law enforcement career:
- Family move to Monmouth, Illinois, 1845.
- Family move to Pella, Iowa, 1850.
- Family move to California, 1864.
- Family move to Lamar, Missouri, ~1870.
- Wyatt in LaMar, 1870. Constable.
Married Urilla Sutherland. (Rilla died within months.)
- Wyatt jailed in Arkansas, 1871. Horse thief.
- Family returns to California.
- Wyatt in Wichita, Kansas, April 1875. Police Officer. Somewhere around here he took up with Mattie Blaylock.
- Wyatt in Dodge City, Kansas, 1876. Deputy city marshall.
- Virgil in Prescott, Arizona, 1877. Law enforcement.
- Wyatt in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, 1877.
- Wyatt in Texas, 1877.
- Wyatt in Dodge City, Kansas, 1877. Assistant marshall.
- Brothers in Tombstone, 1879/80-1882. Virgil federal marshall. Wyatt deputy sheriff, then deputy marshall. Josie/Sadie.
- James, born 6/28/1841, “Ohio County”.
- Virgil, born 7/18/1843, Kentucky.
- Wyatt, born 3/19/1848, Illinois.
- Morgan, born 4/24/1851, Iowa.
- Warren, born 3/9/1855, Iowa.
Doc, & Wyatt’s wives:
- John (Doc) Holliday, born 1853, Georgia.
- Urilla Sutherland Earp; born 1849.
- Cecelia Ann Blaylock (Mattie Earp); born 1850, Wisconsin.
- Josephine (Sadie or Josie) Marcus Earp, born 1861, NYC.
Cowboys & their Allies:
- John Behan, born 10/23?/1845, Missouri.
- Ike Clanton, born 1847, Missouri.
- Billy Clanton, born 1862, Texas.
- Frank Stillwell, born ????, ????.
- Johnny Ringo, born 5/3/1850, Indiana.
- Curly Bill Brocius (perhaps Graham), born about 1840, perhaps in Texas, perhaps in Indiana.
- Tom McLaury, born 6/30/1853, New York.
- Frank McLaury, born 3/3/1848, New York.
Arizona Territory (Southern, mostly):
- Tucson presidio established, 1775.
- Mexican War, 1846-48
- Gadsden Purchase, 1853.
- Whipple Survey Expedition, 1853-54.
- Butterfield Overland Mail (stage coach), 1858-61.
- Fort Bowie, 1862.
- Arizona Territory established, 1863.
- Fort Whipple, 1864.
- Camp Wallen, 1866-69. (Huachuca’s most direct predecessor.)
- Powell Grand Canyon Expedition, 1869.
- Clanton Ranch, 1873.
- Camp Huachuca, 1877 (promoted to Fort 1882).
- First Tombstone claim, 1877.
- First Bisbee claim, 1877.
- Tombstone incorporated, 1879.
- Charleston established, 1879.
- Southern Pacific Railroad to Tucson, 1880.
- This is a California connection; SP reached Yuma in 1878.
- Cochise County established, 1881.
- U.S. President James Garfield shot (in D.C.) 7/12/1881; died 9/19/1881.
- Douglas established, 1901.
- Arizona statehood, 1912.
- BJ’s Tombstone History Discussion Forum is a fascinating place. BJ is Billy Johnson.
- The resource archive pages attached to BJ’s discussion group are an essential starting point for any serious researcher.
Beware: Although there are some excellent resources about the Earps on the web (and in print), it is unwise to blindly trust any source for this story until you’ve read several. Already in 1881 the Tombstone tale was known to be so bizarre that it generated preposterous coverage, and distance from the events hasn’t improved the situation. The “primary” sources are biased, contradictory, and sometimes just wrong. So are many of the websites, and much of the printed material. Some sources which seem to be reliable are largely fiction. The movies–even the “historically accurate” movies–distort the story for effect. Although an improbable amount of detail is known about virtually everyone involved in these events, their motivations are pretty mysterious. That’s one of the reasons we care about the story.