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Wyatt Earp was a gunfighter, gambler and gung-ho for California

Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles 90 years ago Jan. 13, 1929. He is famous for his part in the O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, but lived most of his life and is buried in California.
It wasn’t until after his death that Wyatt Earp was glorified as a gunfighting lawman. During his life, only one film mentioned him by name, and Earp traveled the West mostly as a gambler, brothel owner/bouncer and boxing referee.


1848: Wyatt Earp is born in Monmouth, Illinois. He is the fourth child of Nicholas and Virginia Ann Earp.
1861: Wyatt Earp’s older brothers Newton, James, and Virgil join the Union forces for the Civil War. Some recounts say Wyatt Earp made several attempts to enlist at age 13.
1864: The Earp family joins a wagon train heading to San Bernardino.
1865: Wyatt’s Earp’s brothers come home from the Civil War. He helps his brother, Virgil Earp, as a stagecoach driver.
1866: Wyatt Earp explores the West while hauling freight to towns in Arizona and California.
1868: His father leaves California for Missouri. Wyatt Earp gets a job at a railroad company in Wyoming. During this time he referees boxing and picks up gambling.
1869: He rejoins his family in Lamar, Missouri. His father retires as the town’s constable. Wyatt Earp takes up the position.
1870: He marries Urilla Sutherland, who dies within the year.
1871: Wyatt Earp and two others are accused of stealing horses in Arkansas. He avoids punishment by fleeing to Illinois, while the two others are acquitted.
1872-74: He owns saloons, gambles and is arrested several times for his involvement with prostitutes.
1874: Wyatt Earp helps a lawman in Wichita, Kansas, catch a wagon thief. The town hires him as a police officer.
1876: He moves to Dodge City, Kansas, where his brother James Earp runs a brothel. Wyatt Earp becomes an assistant marshal. He also spends time in the gold rush town of Deadwood in the Dakota Territory.
1877: His parents relocate to San Bernardino County.
1878: Doc Holliday comes to the aid of Earp after a commotion breaks out in a saloon. The two become friends.
1879: Jim Earp, Wyatt Earp and his former prostitute wife, Mattie Blaylock, move to Tombstone, Arizona, where his brother Virgil Earp has claims for silver mines and was hired as a U.S. marshal. They are later joined by brother Morgan Earp and Holliday. Wyatt Earp works for a stage line and then is hired as a deputy sheriff and tax collector.
March 1881: Wyatt Earp and a posse of lawmen go after a group who killed a stagecoach driver. They find and arrest only one.
Oct. 25, 1881: Ike Clanton, with ties to the stagecoach robbers, spends the night in Tombstone drinking heavily and making threats against the Earps.
Oct. 26, 1881: Tensions between the Earps and the cowboys result in the battle at the O.K. Corral. In a 30-second gunfight, Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp and Holliday face five cowboys. Three cowboys are killed (Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton). Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday are wounded.
Dec. 28, 1881: Virgil Earp is shot while walking into a saloon in Tombstone and his left arm is crippled for life. The shooter is not found but is suspected to be Ike Clanton.
March 18, 1882: Morgan Earp is killed. His wife and Virgil Earp take his body to Colton. Wyatt Earp forms a posse that seeks out and kills four of the cowboys suspected of Morgan Earp’s murder.
1882: Wyatt Earp leaves Tombstone to join Virgil Earp in San Francisco. He meets up with an old acquaintance, Josephine Marcus. They head to Colton, where Virgil Earp takes part in the railroad confrontation called “the battle of the crossing.” Virgil Earp is elected Colton’s first marshal in 1887.




1884: Wyatt Earp and Marcus roam the West (New Mexico, Idaho, and California) looking for gold and holding horse races.
1888: The couple spend time in San Diego. Wyatt Earp referees and gambles while owning several saloons.
1891: The couple return to San Francisco to be closer to her family.
1897: After Wyatt Earp referees a boxing match in San Francisco in which corruption is claimed, he heads north to Nome, Alaska, and opens a saloon that makes a small fortune.
1900: The couple split time between Seattle and San Francisco.
1901: Wyatt Earp moves to Los Angeles, where he begins to advise the silent movie industry .
1904: Virgil Earp joins Wyatt Earp in the boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada , and becomes a deputy sheriff. Virgil Earp dies of pneumonia in 1905.
1906: Wyatt Earp resides in Los Angeles and Vidal, California, where he mines copper and gold.
1920s: Wyatt Earp is an honorary deputy sheriff in San Bernardino County.
Jan. 13, 1929: Wyatt Earp dies in Los Angeles at 80. He is the last surviving Earp brother and participant in the O.K. Corral gunfight. His ashes are placed by Marcus in the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California.
1931: Stuart N. Lake’s book, “Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal,” a largely ficticious story, portrays Earp as a heroic lawman.

How the West was spun
In 2010, AMC ranked the best Wyatt Earp movies. Here are the top three and who played Earp.

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