Casey Tefertiller’s Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend begins with Cowtown Justice and the young lawman’s early efforts to apply the law in the Kansas communities of Wichita and Dodge City. Wyatt Earp gained wide community approval with his quite way of dealing with explosive situations.
Tefertiller chronicles the Dodge City era of the 1870’s and Wyatt Earp’s role as lawman. Toward the end of the 1879 cattle season Wyatt joined his brothers and made the move to the silver mining camp at Tombstone, Arizona.
There is no doubt that silver was the big lure to the mining camp and he had some financial success in the mining industry. But Wyatt always considered himself a lawman and took an appointment as Deputy US Marshal.
Wyatt Earp was on the Tombstone streets during 1880 and 1881 and had first hand knowledge of the good and the bad. He witnessed corrupt politicians and their muscle, called the cowboys, bully and intimidate the citizens of Tombstone. A confrontation was set in motion during the summer of 1881 when Wyatt Earp and Johnny Behan squared off as political opponents to run for Cochise County Sheriff. And adding to their adversarial positions was the fact that both men were seeking the hand of a pretty young lady named Josephine Marcus.
Tombstone residents continued to be plagued with the bullying tactics of the cowboys and all that came to a head on the afternoon of October 26, 1881 when the cowboy’s ignored a city ordinance and refused to surrender their firearms. A gunfight followed and the cowboy’s lost three of their men.
The shootout didn’t end the conflict though, because Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Holliday. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were hauled into Judge Wells Spicer’s court for a hearing. Prosecution and the defense called a string of witnesses to the stand, but at the end of the 28-day hearing Judge Spicer ruled in favor of the defense. But the feud continued. Virgil Earp received three shotgun blasts and was almost killed while making his night rounds and Morgan Earp was shot in the back and killed by night guns.
Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were marked for assassination, and left the Tombstone area for Colorado to avoid a complete bloodbath. Wyatt married Josephine Marcus and they followed the silver and gold mining strikes from Idaho to Alaska. Wyatt later dabbled in commercial real estate, horse racing and for a while was a Wells Fargo special detective. In his latter years he lived in Los Angeles and was a movie consultant on western films. Wyatt Earp died in his Los Angeles home in 1929. Casey Tefertiller tells the Wyatt Earp story in a straightforward style that leaves the reader with an indelible picture of that famous Frontier Lawman.
Tom Barnes -- Actor, Writer and Hurricane Hunter.
Check out my website for books, blogs, western legends, a literary icon, reviews and interviews, my novels The Goring Collection
and Doc Holliday’s Road to Tombstone
along with a non fiction remembrance of The Hurricane Hunters and Lost in the Bermuda Triangle.