HP043: Wyatt Earp

HP043: Wyatt Earp

A listener request from Brandon M. Thanks Brandon! Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, was a buffalo hunter, officer of the law, gambler, and saloon-keeper in the Wild West and the U.S. mining frontier from California to Alaska. He is best known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral along with Doc Holliday, Virgil Earp, and Morgan Earp.



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This is HistoryPodcast episode 43.

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Todays podcast will be on Wyatt Earp a request from Brandon M. After the show please stay tuned for a promo from Matt’s Today in History.

Wyatt Earp legendary frontiersman of the American West, who was an saloonkeeper, gambler, lawman, gunslinger, and confidence man. The first major biography, Stuart N. Lake’s Wyatt Earp, Frounter marshall (1931), written with Earp’s collaboration, established the rather fictionalized portrait of a fearless lawman.

On March 19, 1848 in Monmouth, Illinois Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born. Earp and his four brothers-James C., Virgil W., Morgan and Warren B.- spent their early lives in Illinois and Iowa, but in 1864 he moved with their parents to San Bernardino, California. In 1868 the family moved back to Illinois, Wyatt and Virgil working on a Union Pacific Railroad crew on the way home. After the Earp’s moved to Lamar, Missouri, Wyatt married in 1870 and was elected local constable, but upon his wife’s death of typhoid, he took off, drifting from Indian territory to various towns in Kansas. He worked as a police officer in Wichita and Dodge City, went off to the gold rush in the Black Hills, and returned to Dodge City as an Assistant Marshal, where he became noted as both a lawman and gambler and where he befriended such gunmen as Doc Holiday and Bat Masterson.

Leaving Dodge City with his second wife, he went to New Mexico and then California, working for a time as a Wells Fargo guard, and ended up in 1878 in the Wild West town of Tombstone, Arizona, where most of the Earp family had congregated, buying real estate and businesses, and where Wyatt became a gambler and guard in the Oriental Saloon and where his brother Virgil became the town marshal. He also met his third wife Joise in Tombstone. By 1881 a feud had developed between the Earp’s and a gang led by Ike Clanton and was resolved at the O.K. Corral (Oct. 26, 1881), pitting the Clanton gang against three Earp brothers (Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan) and Doc Holiday. Three Clanton gang were killed, but Ike and another member escaped. The townspeople then discharged Virgil Earp, on suspicion that the gunning was murder rather than crime fighting. In March 1882 Morgan Earp was killed by unknown assassins, and Wyatt, his brother Warren, and some friends subsequently killed at least two suspects. Accused of murder, Wyatt fled, moving first to Colorado, then to several boomtowns in the west and eventually California, where the supported himself variously by police work, gambling, mining and real-estate deals.

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