Who was Urilla Sutherland, the first wife of Wyatt Earp?

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Who was Urilla Sutherland, the first wife of Wyatt Earp?

Natalie Cook
Sydney, Australia

We don’t know much about Urilla (or Aurilla). Wyatt never talked about her. Urilla’s gravestone states she was born in 1849. She probably met Earp in late 1869, just after he turned 22. They were married by Wyatt’s father, Nicholas, in January 1870.  She apparently died about nine months after the wedding, probably in childbirth and perhaps of typhus.

One story records Wyatt and Virgil (and maybe older half-brother Newton) got into a fight with her brothers soon after she died because the family blamed Wyatt for her death. Why? Some historians have speculated Wyatt might have seduced her and gotten her pregnant. Fact is, nobody knows for certain. Urilla’s grave is located at the cemetery in Milford, Missouri, a few miles northeast of Lamar.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.