40 Facts About the Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

40 Facts About the Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

By Larry Holzwarth

Over the course of a long and often turbulent life, Wyatt Earp became a living legend. He was, at one time or another, a saloon keeper, a brothel owner, a lawman in different jurisdictions, a gambler, a miner of gold and silver, and a professional referee for boxing matches. Late in life he was a consultant for western films in Hollywood. His detractors claimed that his reputation was inflated and that he was both a crooked referee and an unreliable source for stories of his exploits. His many admirers disagreed and support him as one of the toughest lawmen of the American west. Here are forty facts about an American legend, Wyatt Earp.

Wyatt Earp (sitting second from left) as one of the Dodge City Peace Commission in 1883. Bat Masterson is standing at right. Wikimedia

1. He spent most of his early boyhood in Pella, Illinois

Wyatt Earp was too young to enlist when the American Civil War broke out, though he made several attempts to run away from home and lie about his age to recruiters, each thwarted by his father. His father was a veteran of the Mexican War and responsible for raising and training companies of troops for the Union war effort. In the spring of 1864 Nicholas Earp, Wyatt’s father, organized a train of wagons to move to San Bernardino in far-off California and Wyatt arrived there in mid-December, where he sought work using the experience he gained driving wagons on the cross-country trip. Before the Civil War was over he was employed as a teamster in California.