Wyatt Earp: Biography

Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was a sheriff, law man, player and police marshal who had a relevant figure for the Western United States. He was involved in the OK Corral shooting, alongside Doc Holliday, a very close gunman and casino gambling player.

He was incorruptible and enforced the law whatever it was. He tried to confront the illegal culture that prevailed among the cowboys on the border. Other trades that Earp held were buffalo hunter, extractor of minerals such as gold, manager of a brothel and even became a judge in some boxing matches.

Early years

Wyatt Earp was born on March 19, 1848, in Monmouth, Illinois. His father was Nicolas Porter Earp and his mother Virginia Ann. He had seven siblings and one half brother from his father’s first marriage.

The family moved to California in 1850, as Nicolas wanted to buy some land; However, Martha, one of Wyatt’s sisters, became ill and died in 1856.

From a very young age Wyatt, along with two brothers, managed 80 acres of corn that their father had entrusted them to tend. Although he was 13 years old, the already young Earp wanted to enlist in the army, but Nicolas always prevented him; when he ran away from home, the father would go after him and bring him back.

Left home

At the age of 17, the young Earp left his father’s house and went to search for life on the border. One of his first jobs was transporting cargo and he took advantage of the free time that his work gave him to dedicate himself to boxing as an amateur.

At age 21 he returned home and seemed to want to be with his family in Lamar, Missouri. It was at that moment that his father left the position of agent of the municipality and Wyatt took the opportunity to enter his replacement.

Wedding with Urilla      

Urilla Sutherland was a 20-year-old girl when she was courted by Earp. A year later, in 1870, they celebrated the wedding and Earp took the opportunity to buy a lot and build the new home that he began to forge with great hopes.

He built the house in August of that year; The first child of the family was already on the way, but Urilla had a typhoid and died suddenly. Earp sold the lot with the house and left.

Tireless gamer

The life that followed was one of uprooting and desolation over the death of his wife. He played gambling, made friends with prostitutes, and slept in countless salons. In Arkansas he stole a horse and was imprisoned, although he later escaped thus avoiding conviction.

Around 1876 he arrived in Wichita and went to visit his brother Virgil, who was in charge of a brothel. He also managed to be a police officer. He was attracted by the low pressure of the job, and so he became a Dodge City quarterback.


Like his father, Wyatt wanted to speculate in minerals, so he went to Tombstone with his brothers Virgil and Morgan, where the soil contained large amounts of silver. That’s where he met Doc Holliday.

He then arrived at the border, in Clear Folk, at the Bee Hive Saloon, where he found Shanssey, whom he had known before. Some media in 1878 recorded that Earp had returned to Dodge City and was serving as a police assistant with a salary of $ 75.

Doc Holliday also arrived in Dodge City with his girlfriend and they went to the Long Brach Saloon. There they mounted a tremendous scandal destroying everything and annoying customers. Earp arrived at the scene and found several pistols pointed at his head. Due to the various sources it is not really known what happened; the point is, Wyatt became friends with Doc.

Shooting at OK Corral

In 1881 there was a robbery of a stage in Tombstone. The culprits were apparently jeans and Earp took the case into his own hands. He first went to seek the help of Ike Clanton, who had dealings with these men and offered him a reward if he would help him.

The deal however was a fiasco, because Clanton became paranoid and was seen on the street, in salons, drunk, saying that he would kill Earp’s men. In October of that year Brothers Earp and Clanton with other cowboys arrived on flat ground.

The shooting broke out and went down in history as the largest in the United States. There were three deaths from Clanton’s side and two of Earp’s brothers were injured. The only unharmed was Wyatt.

Earp and Doc Holliday

Relations in the town were bad; Clanton then wounded Virgil and killed Morgan. This murder influenced Earp because he wanted above all to take revenge on the cowboys, so he went to the border with Doc Holliday and spread terror, which spread in several newspapers that reported the presence of these outlaws.

Final years

Later Earp had Josephine Marcus as a partner, from 1882, and with her he continued to seek a success that he had not achieved in previous years. She decided to settle in Los Angeles.

He spent the last years of his life wishing that his life would be captured in a movie, he had fallen in love with all the representations of Hollywood and dreamed of achieving star notoriety. He died in 1929 next to Josephine, of natural causes.

Modern reputation      

Currently the figure of Earp has great notoriety, he is considered the most lethal gunman of his time. His name rose to fame not only because he was the last of his siblings to die, but because of a biography Stuart Lake published: Wyatt Earp: Border Marshal. His name has appeared in several movies, television shows and many other books in recent years.

Historian John Boessenecker has said of Earp that he was always on the sidelines of everything, that his friends used to be gamblers, he was a man who wanted to earn quick and easy money and that is why he went from one place to another looking for ways to be stable. A life without much success and a great uprooting.


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  3. Married, E. (2017). Who was… Wyatt Earp: The most famous sheriff was also a corrupt referee. Recovered from blogs.20minutos.es
  4. Shillingberg, W. (1976). Wyatt Earp and the Buntline Special Myth. Recovered from kshs.org
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019). Wyatt Earp. Recovered from britannica.com

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