Monday, December 17, 2012

Gunfight At The OK Corral - Wyatt Earp's Vendetta

Dear Friends,

Since I keep getting email asking about Wyatt Earp, I have to be honest and say that I am not a fan of the infamous Wyatt Earp. As most of my regular readers already know, I really believe that Wyatt is more hype than fact. And yes, I believe his so-called "vendetta" is one of those hypes.

If you watch the movies on Wyatt Earp, Hollywood has people believing that he killed dozens of bad guys during his vendetta to reap his vengeance on those responsible for shooting Virgil and killing Morgan. Yes, all from behind a badge.

People act like this was a new thing in the history of the Old West when in fact seeking vengeance over a killing, or even a threat, was actually common place at that time. It was also looked at by many as being necessary for one's survival because it eliminated those who may see you as "next."

One such "vendetta" was that of Frank Stilwell's brother "Comanche Jack" Stilwell who wanted revenge and actually went hunting for Wyatt Earp. The short version of that story is that when Frank's brother arrived to take Earp to task -- Wyatt Earp was gone.

Of course what really makes the vendetta interesting is that it was conducted from behind a badge. And friends, that's one of the parts of this story that I've always had a problem with.

People make Wyatt Earp out to be this good guy, but I can't help but wonder if he simply took the opportunity to use his badge as a way to eliminate his opponents. Yes, from behind a badge and make it appear legal.

It is repeated time and time again how Wyatt Earp finally concluded that he could not rely on the court system for justice and decided to take matters into his own hands. Supposedly Wyatt Earp figured that the only way to deal with his brother's assailants was to find and kill the Cowboys who "he believed" were responsible.

Imagine if all of us did the same thing? Imagine if we simply went on a 5 day killing spree and called it a "vendetta" instead of calling it what it was  -- a murdering rampage?

Imagine if you would, how the police and sheriff's department, or even federal law enforcement, would take someone going out and killing people just because that person "feels" that he won't get justice in court?

Wyatt Earp's so-called "vendetta" killed two men who "he believed" were involved in Morgan Earp's death, and one who he "suspected" was involved in shooting Virgil Earp. And contrary to what is shown in movies, Wyatt Earp's murder spree only lasted five days.

He killed Frank Stilwell on March 20th, Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz on March 23rd, and Johnny Barnes on March 24th, 1882

How did it start?

At about 11:30 pm on December 28th, 1881, a little over two months after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, three men ambushed Deputy U.S. Marshal and Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp as he walked from Schieffelin Hall back to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, where the Earps had moved for mutual support and protection.

He was hit in the back and upper left arm by about 20 buckshot pellets, shattering his humerus. Dr. George Goodfellow, who treated him, had to remove 5.5 inches of bone. Believing that his bother Virgil was dying, the next day Wyatt telegraphed Crawley Dake who was the U.S. Marshal for the Arizona Territory. Wyatt Earp wanted authority as a Deputy U.S. Marshal to form a posse. His telegram read:


The Weekly Arizona Miner commented on Earp's request to Dake on December 30th, 1881 about the repeated threats received by the Earps and others.

For some time, the Earps, Doc Holliday, Tom Fitch and others who upheld and defended the Earps in their late trial have received, almost daily, anonymous letters, warning them to leave town or suffer death, supposed to have been written by friends of the Clanton and McLowry boys, three of whom the Earps and Holliday killed and little attention was paid to them as they were believed to be idle boasts but the shooting of Virgil Earp last night shows that the men were in earnest.

U.S. Marshal Dake telegraphed back making Wyatt Earp a temporary Deputy U.S. Marshal with the authority to deputize Warren Earp, Doc Holliday, Sherman McMaster, Jack "Turkey Creek" Johnson, Charlie "Hairlip Charlie" Smith, Daniel "Tip" Tipton, and John "Texas Jack" Vermillion to protect the family and pursue the suspects. Those deputized were authorized $5.00 a day.

According to some sources, Sherman McMaster had seen service with the Texas Rangers in 1878-1879. But, in Tombstone, McMaster had also been accused of stealing U.S. Army mules and robbing a stage with outlaw Charles "Pony" Diehl. Fluent in Spanish, McMaster is said to have used his inside knowledge of the Cowboys to assist the Wyatt Earp in his search. 

Jack "Turkey Creek" Johnson, whose real name was John William Blount. A native of Missouri, Blount was forced to flee Missouri in 1877 after he and his brother were involved in a violent street battle. 

It is said that during May of 1881, his brother Bud killed a man in a quarrel in Tip Top, Arizona Territory, and was sent to Yuma Territorial Prison. John Blount then adopted the alias "Jack Johnson" and went to Tombstone seeking Wyatt Earp's help to get his brother pardoned.

Supposedly Earp helped by writing a petition to Governor Fremont. Whether or not that helped or not is anyone's guess, but Bud Blount was eventually freed. It is said that Johnson joined Earp's posse as a way to repay his debt to him.

Charlie Smith had a long-time connection to the Earp family, and was fluent in Spanish after spending several years in Texas working in saloons. While in Fort Worth, he had been associated with Wyatt's oldest brother barman James Earp and supposedly participated in at least two gunfights there. 

Arriving in Tombstone in 1879 with Robert J. Winders, Smith immediately became associated with the Earps. Winders and the Earps partnered on the Mountain Maid mine.

Daniel "Tip" Tipton arrived in Tombstone in March 1881. He had a shady reputation earned during the early days of the mining boom in Virginia City, Nevada Territory. Tipton, a former Union seaman in the Civil War, was tattooed on his hands and forearms, and took up mining and gambling after the war. 

In 1879, he was in the Gunnison district of Colorado before traveling to Tombstone at the request of his friend Lou Rickabaugh, also a friend of the Earps. Smith and Tipton were gamblers who supplemented their income with mining ventures.

John "Texas Jack" Vermillion was not from Texas. He was actually a Virginian. He joined Earp after Frank Stilwell was killed, and was never indicted for Stilwell's murder. But he was indicted with the Wyatt and Warren Earp when they killed an unarmed Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz. 

As a friend to fellow Southerner Doc Holliday, Vermillion was veteran of the Civil War on the Confederate side who rode with J.E.B. Stuart's Virginia cavalry. It is said that Vermillion was an accomplished horseman and gunman.

U.S. Marshal Dake visited Tombstone in late January 1881 with acting Governor John J. Gosper. Dake had previously and unsuccessfully requested financial assistance from the United States Attorney General, Wayne McVeagh, to help track down and arrest the Cowboys. 

Dake's superiors told him he must reduce his official debt below the penalty bond of $20,000 before an additional appropriation could be made. In September 1881, Governor Gosper told Secretary of Interior Kirkwood that Arizona contained "a small army of outlaws well armed and fully able to cope with the ordinary civil powers of our counties."

Not believing that the federal bureaucracy would provide funds, Dake borrowed $3,000 from Wells Fargo & Co., promising that the Department of Justice would repay it. He deposited money, but there are reports that say he only deposited $300 to an account in the Hudson & Company Bank, minus $15, for use "to arrest all parties committing crimes against the United States." 

The following day John Thacker from Wells Fargo went with the Earps to the bank to authorize their use of the funds. Dake was later accused, although not convicted, of spending $300 on gambling and whores while in Tombstone and misappropriating most of the rest of the money.

As for the commonly held story of what took place, it is said that before hunting down those responsible for shooting Virgil and killing Morgan, Wyatt had to secure what was left of his family. While I read that James Earp, him being the eldest brother, planned the departure from Tombstone and Tucson, most writers give credit to Wyatt. And frankly, very few ever mention that Warren Earp was part of the so-called "vendetta".

But away from how Wyatt later described it in his fictional autobiography, we do know that Morgan's coffin was loaded on a train and James Earp accompanied it to Colton, California, where Morgan's distraught widow, Louisa, was residing.

The wives of James and Wyatt, Bessie and Mattie, would follow five days later. Wyatt Earp and his men then escorted Virgil and his wife, Allie, to the train station at Contention. And yes, while James and younger brother Wyatt were traveling to Contention with Morgan's body, Coroner Dr. D.M. Mathew held an inquest into Morgan's death.

During the Coroner's Inquest, Pete Spence's wife, Marietta Duarte, implicated her husband and four other men in Morgan's murder. She testified that along with her husband, Frank Stilwell, a man named "Fries" who was later identified as Frederick Bode, and two Indians later identified as Hank Swilling and Florentino Cruz took part in the killing.

She testified that four days before the shooting she and her mother were standing at Spence's house when Morgan walked by. "The Indian then started down the street, & got ahead of him to get a good look at him."

She also stated that on the night of the shooting she and her mother heard the shots, and a few minutes later Stilwell and "Indian Charley" came into her home, followed shortly by Spence, Bode and the other Indian. Also she testified that the men were excited, and the next morning her husband threatened her with violence if she told what she knew, stating "Spence didn't tell me so, but I know he killed Morgan Earp".

Additional witnesses said they saw Frank Stilwell running from the scene. The coroner's jury concluded that Spence, Stilwell, Frederick Bode, and Florentino Cruz were the prime suspects in Morgan Earp's death. Spence immediately turned himself in so that he would be protected in Behan's jail.

The common story goes that Wyatt Earp's original plan was to see them safely as far as Benson, but reports came in that Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell had been seen in Tucson. Fearing another ambush, Wyatt and Warren Earp, Sherman McMaster, Doc Holliday and Jack Johnson boarded their train on March 20th and guarded Virgil and his wife all the way through to Tucson.

A passenger later commented that the men carried pistols, rifles and shotguns and that McMaster wore two belts of cartridges.

The Earp party arrived safely at Tucson that evening and went to the nearby Porter's Hotel for dinner. At the end of the meal, the rest of the group helped Virgil and Allie back onto the westbound train.

At that point, two men thought to be Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell were seen lying on nearby flatcars with guns pointed at the train. Wyatt supposedly uses their presence to go after them, and killed them. Supposedly he believed they were involved in killing Morgan and quickly leaves the train and moves quietly between the cars.

He would later claim that both men saw him and ran. Wyatt supposedly chased after the men, who separated among the rail cars. McMaster, Holliday and Johnson also gave chase.

A railroad fireman testified that he saw "one man running along the tracks followed by four armed pursuers." Friends, it is my believe that those "four armed pursuers" was Wyatt and his men and not assassin there to kill the Earps. And yes, I believe that "one man running along the tracks" being followed was Frank Stilwell.

Wyatt claimed that he caught up with one "would-be assassin," that man being Frank Stilwell. Earp then fired both barrels of his shotgun. Later he would say that Stilwell supposedly "made a grab for it."

He claimed that as Stilwell attempts to grab Wyatt's shotgun, he fired both barrels into Stilwell at close range. Of course, Wyatt will later relate how he put the barrel of the gun right up to Stilwell's heart and pulled the trigger.

Years later Wyatt Earp would also say that right before he pulled the trigger on that shotgun, Stilwell supposedly yelled out "Morg! Morg!" And yes, later Earp stated how he wondered for the rest of his days what Stilwell meant?

Wyatt was very proud of killing Stilwell because he identified him as being the trigger man in Morgan's murder. Wyatt would later tell a family member that Stilwell was the only person he ever "had to kill."

And if we believe Hollywood and accept that Ike Clanton was there as well, and that Wyatt Earp confronted him as being part of the supposed four unknown assassins sent to finish off the Earps -- why didn't Earp kill Clanton instead of let him live. I honestly think that's all Hollywood.

As with most stories such as this, of course no one makes mention of the fact that Frank Stilwell was at the Tucson rail station because he was ordered to Tucson to testify in front of the Grand Jury there in the case of a stage holdup. So while Wyatt Earps fans push the story that Stilwell and Clanton were in Tucson specifically to kill the Earps, that is not true,

Does that mean that they didn't see an opportunity to kill the Earps? No. It just means that they were not specifically in Tucson to kill Earps.

Fact is, Frank Stilwell and Ike Clanton had been subpoenaed to appear before the Grand Jury there to testify to federal charges that they interfered with a U.S. mail carrier. Those charges stemmed from Stilwell's alleged participation in robbing the Bisbee stage on September 8, 1881. Yes, that's really the reason Frank Stilwell was in Tucson that day.

As for Stilwell and Clanton and the Earps being in Tucson at the same time, there are reports that say Wyatt Earp knew that Stilwell and Clanton were headed for Tucson to testify before the Grand Jury. Some say that Wyatt took there being there as an opportunity to kill both.

As for being at the train station, granted that Stilwell and others could have been at the train station to kill the Earps -- but there are reports that say Stilwell and Clanton went to the train depot to meet a witness named McDowell who was to also appear before the Grand Jury. And yes, some say that upon their arrival at the depot is when they learned that the Earps were in Tucson.

Facts are tough to explain away, such as how Earp supporters don't make mention of the fact that upon examination by a medical examiner, it showed that Stilwell was actually shot with two different pistols and a shotgun. So his murder was from at least two or maybe three different assailants. Unless of course, Wyatt shot Stilwell with a shotgun and then used two different pistols to shot up the already dead Stilwell.

A witness would later say that he heard six to 10 shots and at the same time heard men cheering. One eyewitness claimed that Stilwell "was shot all over…the worst shot-up man I ever saw."

When asked about the multiple guns used, Wyatt Earp changed his story to say that when his posse members arrived at the bloody scene -- that they proceeded to fire more shots into the corpse of Frank Stilwell. Why? If they did, who knows why they would do such a thing since they in a hurry to leave the scene of their murdering Stilwell.

And yes, that leads me to another problem with Earp's story. I find it strange that when Stilwell's corpse was found in the Tucson rail yard the next morning, that now Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp and his men were long gone.

Why would a Deputy U.S. Marshal flee the scene of a altercation with a would-be assassin that he shot in the line of duty? Why didn't Earp stick around and give a report as to what took place as any law enforcement officer would have? Since he was a duly authorized United States Deputy Marshal, why did Wyatt Earp act more like an assassin than a lawman?

Sound like lawmen to you? Not me. 

The coroner's inquest later found at least five separate gunshot wounds on the body. Some say one was from each member of the Earp posse. Many say that supposedly the Earps had wanted to send a clear message to Ike Clanton and the other Cowboys: There would be no more attempted arrests from now on. Wyatt and his men would kill with the protection of their badges.

As I said, after the killing, Wyatt and his posse flee the scene. But before doing so, Wyatt and his posse are said to have watched Virgil's train depart and then had searched the railyard for Clanton and his other men. It is also said that having no luck, "they then walked in the darkness".

In reality, because they killed Stilwell, Wyatt and his men missed the return train to Benson. This meant that Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Sherman McMasters, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, and Warren Earp, walked the nine miles along the railroad tracks to Papago station.

It was around midnight that they flagged an eastbound freight train which took them to Contention City where they were able to either reclaimed their horses or take the next stage into Tombstone. And supposedly the next thing they did was rent a wagon and drove to Con­tention to join up with "Texas Jack" Vermillion, who had not traveled to Tucson but had stayed behind in Contention with their horses.

After meeting with Vermillion, the Earp gang then rode back to Tombstone and immediately went to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Later that day, Charlie Smith and Dan Tipton joined them, and plans were made to again leave town.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp supposedly realizes that he has little time to act before he might be arrested and hanged. While he is a Deputy U.S. Marshal, the cold blooded killing of Stilwell has put him on the run himself.

So it is said that he gathers up the loose ends of his life in Tombstone and sees his common-law wife Mattie Earp for the last time as he knows he won't be coming back to Tombstone. Some speculate that Mattie accompanied the family train back to Colton and others claim she moved on with Kate Holliday, who had also been dumped by Doc Holliday.

The coroner's jury in Tucson duly found the five members of Earp's gang responsible for the death of Stilwell, and warrants were issued for their arrest of Earp and his so-called "deputies". Yes, with those warrants, their badges stopped protecting the Earp posse.

A telegram sent to Sheriff John Behan in Tombstone advised him that his deputy had been murdered and asked him to detain the men responsible. When Behan arrived at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, he found Earp and his men walking through the lobby to the street -- all armed to the teeth and in no mood to chat.

Behan attempts to stop him, "I want to see you Wyatt." Wyatt is reported to have said, "If you're not careful, you'll see me once too often Johnny" as he passed the ineffectual sheriff. He and his men then walked out to a nearby corral where they mounted their horses and rode quickly out of Tombstone.

After spending that night in a camp outside of town, the Earp posse rode hard in the direction of the Dragoon Mountains. Pete Spence operated a woodcutting business in the foothills, and the posse hoped to catch not only Spence but also the other three men named in the coroner's report.

On the morning of March 22nd, Wyatt's party rode into Pete Spence's camp, but failed to find him. Spence had judiciously surrendered in Tombstone, and an Indian known as Hank had already been arrested.

Two Earp posse members, probably McMaster and Smith, questioned a worker in Spanish at the camp, and then the group rode up a hill in the direction of a "half breed" known as Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz

On March 23rd, the eight-man Earp posse must have been convinced they had their man -- because they opened fire. Florentino Cruz ran but was quickly brought down in a hail of bullets

Wyatt Earp would later say that Florentino Cruz was one of the men who had stood watch for the murderers on the night Morgan was killed. But no, he never revealed how he knew that information. Granted Pete Spence's wife, Marietta Duarte, implicated her husband and four other men in Morgan's murder, but she and the other witnesses who came forward did not say who did what that night.

After the inquest into Cruz's death, The Arizona Weekly Citizen published a letter, stating that he was also known as "Philomeno Sais". The paper also reported that Cruz was wanted in connection with the robbery and murder of two Deputy U.S. Marshals in 1878.

The Arizona Weekly Star added weight to this argument, as it had previously identified the 1878 murderer as Florentino Saiz. Whatever his correct name, he was guilty of that murder. And as far as the Earp men were concerned, after the killing of Cruz -- Earp and his men rode out of the area.

Later on March 24th, Smith and Tipton separated from the others to obtain information in Tombstone. The two men immediately ran into trouble. Sheriff Behan liked the odds this time and arrested both of them for "resisting arrest and conspiracy."

The men were immediately bailed, and Smith left town to rendezvous with the Earp posse while Tipton remained in Tombstone. Smith met with Earp and then was sent back to town to obtain $1,000 in expense money for the posse. Wyatt and his men were to meet Smith later in the Whetstone Mountains, at a watering hole known as Iron Springs.

Back in Tombstone, a coroner's inquest found that Florentino Cruz was killed by Wyatt and Warren Earp, Sherman McMaster, Jack Johnson, Doc Holliday, Texas Jack and two other unnamed gunmen -- probably Dan Tipton and Charlie Smith.

Sheriff Behan then organized his own posse and set out after Earp and his men all as wanted men. Behan drew criticism as his group included noted Cowboys Johnny Ringo, Fin Clanton, and Johnny Barnes.

A second posse, made up of Charleston Cowboys, also took to the field. On March 24th, that bunch rode into Contention, and a witness reported that the Charleston contingent was well mounted, well armed and hunting for the Earp posse.

Wyatt reported that on the afternoon of March 24th was warm, and said the had loosened his cartridge belt to make riding more comfortable. According to Wyatt, he led his men toward Iron Springs but to his surprise he did not find Charlie Smith but instead a gang of Cowboys who opened fire without warning.

Supposedly Wyatt Earp jumped from his horse with a shotgun in his hands, while McMaster, Johnson and Doc Holliday wheeled their horses and sped to safety. It is said that Vermillion's horse was shot and collapsed, pinning Texas Jack's leg for a few moment before being hauled away by on of the others.

According to Wyatt Earp, at the sound of the first shot McMaster recognized "Curly Bill" Brocius and cried out his name. At this Earp then returned fire and blasted Brocius with his double-barrel shotgun, almost cutting the Cowboy in two.

Amid the gun smoke and mayhem, when Wyatt was attempting to get back in the saddle -- his cartridge belt which he had loosened earlier had slid down to his ankles. Wyatt pulled up his cartridge belt and attempted to mount his horse while taking fire from the remaining Cowboys.

He fired in their general direction as Cowboy bullets struck the pommel of his saddle and the heel of his boot. One slug hit with such force that Earp believed he had been wounded. He somehow managed to partially mount his horse and took off for safety.

The Earp posse had miraculously survived the gunfight without any serious casualties, other than the loss of Texas Jack's horse. Supposedly bullets had perforated Wyatt's coattails and McMaster had sustained a grazed side when a bullet cut through the straps of his field glasses and tore through his clothes.

Wow! Exciting isn't it? Of course some say when the Earp vendetta entered Iron Springs all hell broke loose and Earp's men fled. Some say this was all a figment of Wyatt Earp's imagination because no one witnessed it or ever produced Curly Bill's dead body.

While we do know that it took place because Johnny Barnes was severely wounded in the gunfight that ensued and later died from those wounds. But as for Curly Bill Brocius, many people like myself believe that Curly Bill had already left the area and was no where around that part of the country.

Questions as to whether or not Wyatt Earp really shot Curly Bill or not started almost immediately. In fact, one Tombstone newspaper actually put out a reward if anyone would produce proof one way or another if Curly Bill was dead or indeed alive somewhere else. No one collected on it.

Wyatt said that after the Iron Springs gunfight, his posse rested, counted their blessings, and then rode back toward Tombstone. The Cowboys would later deny that Curly Bill Brocius had been killed at Iron Springs. They insisted that Curly Bill had left for New Mexico long before that.

Although debate raged in the Tombstone newspapers, Earp always maintained he had killed Brocius but there was never any proof that he did. But then again since no one produced Brocius' body, and since Curly Bill was never seen again in Tombstone, no one really knows if Wyatt Earp was simply taking the credit for something that he didn't do.

Of course there's Wells Fargo agent Fred Dodge who told the absurd story that Curly Bill Brocius was secretly buried on Frank Patterson's ranch next to Babocomari Creek.  

Why do I say absurd? Look at the way the Cowboy element put on the funerals for the men who died at the OK Corral. Look at the procession and the declarations on signs that stated they were murdered. Why would they treat Curly Bill any different than they did those Cowboys killed at the OK Corral? Fact is, I don't see any plausible reason for them to "secretly" bury Brocius. The story just doesn't hold water.

As for Earp posse member Charlie Smith, his exact movements are hard to trace at this stage. Apparently he rejoined Earp's posse just after the Iron Springs shootout, but he did not supply the much-needed funds. That task would eventually fall to Dan Tipton.

In any case, on March 26th, Earp and his men rode out to Dragoon Summit Station where they stopped an eastbound train at 1 p.m. and hunted unsuccessfully through the carriages. Whether they expected to find a messenger with additional funds, or someone they were looking for, that really is not very clear.

They needed money and a place to rest before deciding their next move, so they rode north to Henry Clay Hooker's Sierra Bonita Ranch. Hooker was an influential cattle rancher in nearby Graham County and a supporter of Earp faction.

The Earp posse arrived at Sierra Bonita on March 27th. There, they fed their worn-out horses and took advantage of Hooker's hospitality. Early that same morning, Dan Tipton left Tombstone on the first stage heading for Benson, carrying $1,000 from mining man E.B. Gage for the Earp men.

At Benson, Tipton boarded a train to Willcox, where he rented a horse and rode to Hooker's ranch. At the same time Lou Cooley, a stage driver and likely Wells Fargo operative, also provided the Earp posse with additional funds from the express company. Wyatt and his now seven men now had traveling money and fresh horses. They left Hooker's ranch the next morning and set up a camp on a nearby butte.

From their vantage point, they could see the approach of any riders from rival posses, and they waited for a possible confrontation. But according to Wyatt, it never came. Sheriff Behan and his men eventually arrived at Sierra Bonita, but they were refused assistance.

According to one report, Hooker mockingly told Behan where to find the Earps -- but the sheriff rode off in the opposite direction. The eight-man Earp "posse" remained in the area for a few more day, but the so-called "vendetta" had run its course.

It is interesting to note that several people in the region would refute Wyatt Earp's claim that he killed Curly Bill Brocius, stating that they had seen him since the shooting. But while there is no substantiated evidence the Wyatt Earp did kill Brocius, neither was Curly Bill ever seen again by a "credible" witness.

Unfortunately for Wyatt, while he was out taking the law into his own hands, public opinion was turning against him. The public felt, and possibly rightly so, that Wyatt Earp's brand of vengeance was no better than what the Cowboy gang had done to the Earp family. Some people were also of the opinion that Wyatt Earp was taking out his murderous desires while "hiding" behind his temporary Deputy U.S. Marshal's badge.

With two hostile posses on their trail, Wyatt and his men were outnumbered and knew it would be extremely dangerous to stay in Arizona any longer. So fearing that it was only a matter of time before he was caught in Arizona, Wyatt Earp and his friends leave the territory.

Early in April 1882, Wyatt and his posse rode to Silver City, New Mexico Territory. They spent one night in the home of a friend, and the next day sold their horses and saddles, before taking a stage to Deming.

From there they traveled by train to Albuquerque and made plans to move to the relative safety of Colorado. Charlie Smith parted company with the group in Silver City and headed back to make Tombstone his home. He was the only member of the Earp posse to do so.

Once in Gunnison, Colorado, the Earp posse split up. Wyatt and Warren Earp, Dan Tipton and Texas Jack Vermillion headquartered at Gunnison. Doc Holliday went to Denver, while it's believed that Johnson and McMasters probably reunited with their respective brothers in Leadville.

The men had found their sanctuary as Colorado Governor Frederick Pitkin refused extradition requests from the Arizona territorial authorities even though they were wanted murderers.

Tom Correa

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