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Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp, born in 1848, was a legendary American Old West lawman. He was best known for his skill with a six-shooter and his duty as a law enforcement officer in Tombstone, Arizona. Earp joined the law firm in 1879 following his father's funeral.

Earp

If the story of Wyatt Earp is the story of the West, as Bat Masterson claimed, then the white two-story structure where Wyatt was born on March 19, 1848, is a disappointment. Tourists visiting the Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum in Monmouth, Illinois, expect something more western. "People tell us, `We thought it would be more like a ranch or a log cabin'," a staff member explains. "One guy from England even expected mud walls. He felt the house didn't `symbolize' Wyatt Earp." But then, Wyatt never spent much time in houses.

According to an early biographer, John Flood, many years after leaving home Wyatt became nostalgic for the house and returned to Illinois: "The dear old Monmouth was not the Monmouth as he had remembered it; everything had changed. The great, high fences that he had to climb up to look over when he was a boy seemed dwarfed and shrunken now ... the woods and fields were not the great, unexplored horizons that they used to be. The rivers and streams seemed narrow and diminutive, and the rolling hills had lost their enchantment." Wyatt's nostalgia for Illinois is unrecorded elsewhere, but the state did leave its stamp on him and his two older brothers. The most celebrated peace officers of the cattle town era--Wild Bill Hickok, the Earp brothers, the Masterson brothers--lived in Illinois as young men and grew up in the same pro-Union, Republican, progressive, antislavery atmosphere that spawned Abraham Lincoln. (Several other prominent lawmen were raised in neighboring states; the great Bill Tilghman, whom Wyatt and Bat Masterson would know in Dodge City, grew up in equally pro-Union Iowa.) The Earps had southern roots, and their father, Nicholas Porter Earp, remained a southerner at heart all his life, but three of Wyatt's brothers, including his half brother, Newton, would fight for the Union, and Wyatt would try to. (Source: www.nytimes.com)

Year

According to an early biographer, John Flood, many years after leaving home Wyatt became nostalgic for the house and returned to Illinois: "The dear old Monmouth was not the Monmouth as he had remembered it; everything had changed. The great, high fences that he had to climb up to look over when he was a boy seemed dwarfed and shrunken now ... the woods and fields were not the great, unexplored horizons that they used to be. The rivers and streams seemed narrow and diminutive, and the rolling hills had lost their enchantment." Wyatt's nostalgia for Illinois is unrecorded elsewhere, but the state did leave its stamp on him and his two older brothers. The most celebrated peace officers of the cattle town era--Wild Bill Hickok, the Earp brothers, the Masterson brothers--lived in Illinois as young men and grew up in the same pro-Union, Republican, progressive, antislavery atmosphere that spawned Abraham Lincoln. (Several other prominent lawmen were raised in neighboring states; the great Bill Tilghman, whom Wyatt and Bat Masterson would know in Dodge City, grew up in equally pro-Union Iowa.) The Earps had southern roots, and their father, Nicholas Porter Earp, remained a southerner at heart all his life, but three of Wyatt's brothers, including his half brother, Newton, would fight for the Union, and Wyatt would try to.

The principal scholars of the Earp family tree, Mrs. Esther L. Irvine (whose research is in the Colton Public Library in Colton, California) and Effie Earp Cramer (whose materials are at the Wyatt Earp Birthplace Museum in Monmouth, Illinois), traced the American Earps from Anglo-Saxon/Celtic roots. Thomas Earp, born in Ireland and come to the new world from England in the early 1700s, is generally accepted as the first immigrant. In 1789 Josiah Earp became the first "Fighting Earp," enlisting in the Colonial Army in Maryland. Soon after the war Josiah became the first Earp with "itchy feet," moving through at least three other states before settling in Kentucky, which is where Wyatt's grandfather, Walter Earp, raised most of his children. In 1836 Walter's son Nicholas married a Kentucky girl, Abigail Storm, the daughter of a neighboring farmer. Within two years, Nicholas lost a daughter, Mariah Ann, and then Abigail herself to an unspecified illness. (Source: www.nytimes.com)

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