Why was there a shootout on October 26, 1881 at the OK Corral? As part of my ongoing series of articles leading up to the festivities of this year's events, it is time to get to know the players and the motivations behind their actions.
Wyatt Earp wasn’t planning on going to Tombstone when he waved farewell to Dodge City on the morning of September 9, 1879. He was going to go in business with Doc Holliday in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where the two would open a saloon. Doc did not do well in Las Vegas. He went into the jewelry business for a while, but did not make a go of it. It was a business that would come back to haunt him in a few years.
By the time Wyatt had driven across the Santa Fe Trail from Dodge City to Las Vegas, Doc had already left town. Wyatt stayed for a few weeks, working for Hoodoo Brown doing a little policing, but Las Vegas did not agree with him. So, he packed up and drove across what is now Interstate 40 to Prescott, Arizona, where he joined his brother Virgil.
A few weeks later, older brother James and his wife Bessie Ketchum, the ex-Madam arrived in Prescott, ready to make the trek to Tombstone. The Earps reached Tombstone early in December, 1879.
It had begun.
Why does Wyatt Earp, out of all of our Wild West Heroes attract so much attention?
Why does he have so many groupies – ‘Earpies’ as I call them? Detractors can claim they dislike him, make all sorts of mutterings, but still act like groupies. Those of us who are interested in his life try to behave ourselves and act like grown-ups, but must face the fact that we are like moths to the flame.
I have several ideas, excuses, and theories, the first being that Wyatt Earp was a superstar. He had IT, the same qualities God has bestowed on Harrison Ford, Tom Selleck, John Wayne (more on that later), Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Brad Pitt, and a pantheon of other mortals who have slipped the bonds of human frailty and ascended to the lofty position of screen god.
Earp was tall, well over six feet, lanky, and built. We may as well face the fact that, from the few pictures we have, and how he looked later in life, when he was in Tombstone, he must have been, to use my 17-year-old niece’s vernacular, hot.