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A statue of Wyatt Earp located in Arizona, USA

Wyatt Earp: Biography

Image Credit: tishomir / | Above: A statue of Wyatt Earp located in Arizona, USA

Wyatt Earp and his brothers were made famous by their gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (born 19 March 1848) and his brothers grew up in California. He married in 1870, but after his wife died he worked as a buffalo hunter in Indian territory. He then joined the Kansas police force and became a faro (a type of card game) dealer at the famous Long Branch Saloon, where he became lifelong friends with Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday, as well as establishing his reputation as a notable lawman and gambler.

Having remarried, in 1879 he assembled with his brothers and their wives in the new silver mining town of Tombstone, Arizona.

Wyatt planned to establish a stage line here, but instead acquired the gambling concession at the Oriental Saloon. His brother Virgil became town marshal, while Morgan took a job with the police department. It was here that Wyatt met his third wife Josie.

On 26 October 1881, a feud that had developed between the Earp brothers and a gang led by Ike Clanton culminated in the most celebrated gunfight in western folklore, the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Three of the Clanton gang were killed, while Ike and another member escaped. The three Earp brothers, Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday survived.

In March 1882, Morgan Earp was gunned down by unknown assassins. Wyatt, along with his brother Warren and some friends, embarked on a vendetta during which all four suspects were eventually killed.

After being accused of these murders, Wyatt and Josie fled to Colorado. They then made the rounds of western mining camps over the next few years. In Alaska, they operated a saloon during the height of the Gold Rush. They returned to the states in 1901 with an estimated eighty thousand dollars. They then followed the Gold Rush across the country, prospecting and running saloons.

Wyatt spent the winters of his final years working claims in the Mojave Desert and living with Josie in their cottage in Vidal. He and Josie summered in Los Angeles, where they befriended early Hollywood actors and lived off real estate and mining investments. Wyatt died in 1929.