Earps vs. Cowboys. October 26, 1881.

It’s no accident we held our 20th anniversary party on October 26. In our world the date is a national holiday.

And speaking of the O.K. Corral, check out the amazingly clear photo of Tombstone at the time of the gunfight (“Opening Shot”). I have been studying this story for over forty years and I was still floored by some of the new findings. Perhaps the biggest reveal is that most of the Earp brothers were ne’er-do-wells, not just Wyatt. And, the biggest shock, to me, is how Virgil (long thought to be the straight arrow of the family) puts Wyatt in the shade in terms of hooliganism. Arson? Yes. Being shot by a prostitute? Yes. Fleecing innocent civilians? Yes. Cons and illegal gang activity? Boy howdy.

Tombstone, Arizona Territory, circa 1881 . (“Opening Shot.”)
Frontier photographers C.S. and Mollie Fly moved to Tombstone in December 1879. Thirteen months later, Tombstone was the newly minted Cochise County seat. C.S made this image of Tombstone looking southeast from Comstock Hill in 1881, which was then a boomtown of 4,000 or so souls, 650 to 700 working in the local mines, and about 600 buildings. Note in the lower right foreground the large haystack, hay wagon, feedlot, stockyards and the entrance to the First Extension of the Mountain Maid Mine, in which the Earps owned shares.
– Courtesy Roy B. Young Collection –

Meanwhile, brother James is run out of Utah for attempting to seduce a married Mormon and gets another guy killed in the process. Did I mention this is jaw-dropping stuff?

My good friend, and best-selling author, John Boessenecker fills in the story from the other side of the ledger, with a hard-nosed look at the Cowboys and their nefarious activities that include a possible assassination attempt on the President of the United States!

So, in this issue we not only salute the best of everything in our world, but we salute the brave and bold historians who dug deep and got the real stories. Long may their stories be told.

bob boze bell sig true west magazine


Related Articles

  • Remembering Great Granddad through historic photographs of South Texas pioneers.

    As a teen in the 1880s, my great-grandfather Tolbert Alexander Burford worked as a wrangler…

  • singingcowboys

    Can you imagine Gunsmoke’s Festus belting out a tune for Miss Kitty? Why not? Do…

  • cowboys true west

    There were a number of ways a young man could become a cattleman. He could…