Wyatt Earp
Family Connections


It is amazing how the news reporters messed up facts... read on ....................

The Evening News
Date: 1900-07-09; Paper:     

Reckoning Time Came. Virgil Earp, the Noted Rustler, Dies with Boots On

Wilcox, A. T., July 9 - Warren Earp, the youngest of the four Earp brothers whose names twenty years ago were synonymous with gun fighting on the Arizona frontier, "died with his boots on" here.
     He was shot through the heart in a saloon by Cowboy Johnny Boyett, and died almost instantly.
The shooting occurred early in the morning and grew out of a feud that had existed between the two men ever since the bloody fights between the Earps and Arizona cattle rustlers about Tombstone in the early eighties.
     Earp had habitually bullied Boyett for months past, and the latter always tried to avoid a quarrel.
     A few days ago Earp cornered Boyett in a saloon, and, pressing a revolver against Boyett's stomach, made him promise that if they ever quarreled again the one should kill the other.
The two men met in a restaurant and Earp began his abuse.
     Boyett went into an adjoining saloon, followed by Earp. The latter said:
     "Boyett, go get your gun and we'll settle the matter right here. I've got my gun; go get yours."
     Boyett was willing and agreed to return in a few moments and fight it out. Earp also left the saloon.
     Boyett returned very soon and finding Earp gone warned all loungers in the saloon to clear out, emphasizing his warning by shooting into the ceiling.
     Earp shortly appeared through a back door. He started toward Boyett, throwing open his coat and saying: "Boyett, I am unarmed; you have all the best of this," advancing as he spoke.
     Boyett warned him not to come nearer, but Earp did not heed the words, and when within eight feet, Boyett fired, shooting Earp through the heart and killing him instantly.
     Warren Earp was the youngest brother of the Earp family.
He was well known by Uncle-Sheriff Paul of Tucson, who was Sheriff of Pima county in the eighties when trouble occurred between the Earps and the Clanton gang.
     Earp came to this country about the time of the beginning of the feud from Colton, Cal. He was one of the original brothers and took an active part in their fights after he arrived.
     Morgan Earp was killed in 1883 in Bob Hatch's saloon in Tombston, being shot from the back as he was playing billiards. Virgil Earp later was shot in the arm and seriously wounded and the killing of Frank Stilwell occurred in Tucson not long after, when he attempted to shoot Virgil through a car window. Stilwell was shot by Wyatt Earp.
     Warren came here when his brothers got into trouble at Tombstone with the Clanton gang and he has remained here since. He was driving stage from Willcox to Fort Grant and had done freighting.

Idaho Daily Statesman
Aug. 8, 1900

Only One of Earp Boys Remain

     Shot dead in an Arizona saloon.  That is the fate which might have been expected for Warren Earp.  He was the youngest and "the most foolhardy" of the famous family of desperadoes, whose six-shooters were once the terror of Tombstone, says a New York paper.  His brothers, Virgil and Julian, bit the dust in a similar manner several years ago, and now Warren has followed the prejudice of his tribe in favor of "dyin' with their boots on."  Only one of the notorious band of stage robbing brothers remains.  He is Wyatt Earp, who refereed the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight, December 3, 1896.  He keeps the toughest gambling house in 'Frisco.
     The man "who pumped enough lead to last" into Warren Earp's anatomy a few days ago at Wilcox was John Boyett, who had been the butt of Earp's jests for several months.  Boyett wanted to avoid trouble with "Wicked Warren," but a few days before the final encounter Earp pressed his six-shooter against Boyett's belt, and, glaring into his eyes, said:
     "You cattle rustling coyote!  If we ever meet again there'll be a killin'.  Understan' that?"
     There had been a feud for years between the old stage robbing gang of which the Earps were the leaders and the cattle rustlers, of whom Boyett was one.  One day last week Earp walked into a saloon where Boyett was drinking with some of his cattle rustling friends.
     "There's my gun, cur!" yelled Earp, tossing his Colt's 45 into the air and deftly catching it again; "where's yours?"
     "Ain't got it," was Boyett's reply.
     "Go and get it then," said "Wicked Warren."
     When Boyett returned a few minutes later he began shooting at once and scattered the loungers.  Earp stood his ground and said:
     "You've got all the best o' me.  Some feller took my gun."
     'Stand still, then" cried Boyett, for Earp was steadily advancing, with blood in his eye, for a quick grapple and possession of the gun.
     "On,___!" remarked Mr. Earp, as he sprung forward.  Boyett's weapon cracked, and the third of the Earps to die fell, shot through the heart.
     When the Earp brothers lived in Tombstone they did much toward making it a thrilling place of residence, for the four brothers were much in evidence thereabouts in the early eighties.  In 1883, however, the community decided it had had enough of the quartet, and a solid front made up of six-shooters and Winchesters was presented to them.  So they left Tombstone and migrated to Gunnison county.  Finally they were run out of the Gunnison, and Wyatt Earp migrated to California, while Warren clung to his native heath in Arizona.
     They had a sister, Jessie, too, who lived with them in Tombstone.  She was known as the virtuous one of the family, Virgil as the oldest, Wyatt as the wisest, Julian as the bravest and Warren as the most foolhardy.  Virgil was killed in Tombstone and Julian in the Gunnison.
     "Ike" Clauton, a famous member of the cattle thieves, the opposition faction to the stage robbers in Tombstone, married Jessie Earp.  Then he found it necessary to kill her brother Julian, and then Warren and Wyatt found it necessary to kill Clauton and make their charming sister a widow.  For Jessie had dared to marry a man with whom her brothers had a feud and she must be disciplined.
     All of the Earps were gun fighters for the love of it and men of prompt courange and bitter revenge.  Each of them has killed numerous men.  Wyatt is credited with 10 and Warren with fully as many.  It used to be said in Tombstone, that any of the Earps was fit to "pull and center" a shot in less than one-tenth of a second.
     In the early eighties, when Virgil and Wyatt Earp led the stage robbers of Tombstone, "Ike" Clauton, Johnny Behan and Jack Ringo led the cattle rustlers.  The stage robbers were republicans; the cattle thieves democrats.  The Earps killed men for recreation and robbed stages for a livelihood, for there was no money in murder.  The rustlers got their living in much the same way, but they devoted more time to whiskey and the faro bank.
     Political office, too, had its charms for both factions, for, while Johnny Behan was the democratic sheriff of Cochise county, Virgil Earp was the republican marshal of Tombstone.  And both sides treated themselves and each other to many a murder.
     Virgil Earp had a partnership with Barshel Williams, at that time the Wells-Fargo express agent at Tombstone.  Williams would "tip off" the stages that he knew would hold the big money, and then Earp would piant his highwaymen in a convenient place and plunder the stage.
     Warren Earp was an express stage company guard, and when his brother gave the command, "Hands up!" it was wonderful to see with what meekness the fierce looking young guard threw up his hands.  Then his brothers went through the express packages.  There was never any shooting, for it was a family affair.
     In these robberies the Earps often realized as much as $25,000, which they spent with a freedom that was considered royal in Tombstone.  After each crime they organized themselves into a posse comitatus and received more money as a bonus for chasing themselves.  In each case Virgil, the marshal, would enlist his three brothers and the notorious "Curley Bill" Earp, their cousin.
     But when Williams, the unfaithful Wells-Fargo man, was about to de, his conscience smote him and he confessed, implicating the Earps.
     It was a gala occasion in the Birdcage Opera House of Tombstone, and the two warring factions occupied the boxes on opposite sides of the house.  When one side cheered or clapped their big hands, the other hissed.  Sheriff Behan, "Ike" Clauton and "Jack" Ringo, with several followers, vied with the Earp brothers, "Curly Bill" and "Doc" Holliday.  Whiskek flowed like water, and excitement was at a blood heat, when suddenly Clauton took exception to the boot of one of the Earps' followers, which reposed on the rail in front of the box.  "Ike" promptly put a bullet through the offending member and then there was bloody war.  Twelve men were killed or wounded, but none of the Earps was even scratched.
     Williams, the Wells-Fargo traitor was seriously wounded in half a dozen places and, fully expecting to die, he worked up a little death-bed repentance, and told how the Earps had been plundering stages and express packages for years.
     This induced the Earps to fortify themselves in a small adobe hut on the outskirts of the town, where they were promptly besieged by Sheriff Behan and his followers.  Warren liked gambling, after the siege began to be tedious he decided he wanted to visit the faro bank.  So he did and was shot.  It was thought at that time that the wound would prove fatal, and Virgil at once set out to avenge his brother's injuries.  A crowd of ten opened fire upon him the moment they saw him, and he was instantly killed.
     Then the remaining Earps repaired to Gunnison and took their sister Jessie with them.  "Ike" Clauton followed and eloped with the sister.  This was too much for the bereaved Earps, and they set out on the trail of the bridal couple.  They ran the pair into a tunnel, but the miners there interfered and insisted on fair play.  So it was decided that Julian Earp was to fight a duel with Clauton, each holding a six shooter in the other's face and shooting it out.  Julian was killed.
     Two years of comparatively peaceful married life followed for Jessie and Clauton, but one day Wyatt and Warren and "Curly Bill" met the happy husband, and a shower of bullets was the result.  Clauton and "Curly Bill" went down together and Warren and Wyatt thought best to get out of sight.  So they separated, and the elder went to California, while the younger and "most foolhardy" remained in Arizona.  Wyatt was "plugged full of lead," to sue his own words.  Before they left, however, they killed the two McLoweries, "Billy" Clauton and Frank Stillwell, "just to square up old debts."
     Warren Earp was nearly 50 years old at the time of his death, tall, athletic, grim visaged and a "man of honor."  That is, he would not allow any one to question his veracity.  This trait existed in all the brothers, and when Wyatt Earp's decision of foul was disputed in the Sharkey-Fitzsimmons fight he made this statement:
     "The foul blow of the night was plainly seen by me, 'Fitz' smashed with his right on Sharkey's shoulder.  Then with an uppercut with the left, he struck the sailor below the belt.  Sharkey was leaning over, and the blow knocked him down.  It was clearly foul, and before the sailor moved I mentioned that the fight was over.  The first blow was weak, and I believe the second blow was intended for an uppercut, but it struck foul.  No man on earth has ever questioned my honor.  I have been in many places and in peculiar situations, but no man ever said till now that I was guilty of a dishonest act.  I will repeat that I acted with all fairness and with a judgment that was as true as my eyesight.  I saw the foul blow.

(Sharon Wick's Notes:   To my knowledge, Wyatt didn't have a sister named Jessie nor did he have a brother named Julian.  If anyone knows of them, please email me at

Idaho Daily Statesman
Apr. 24, 1899

After Many Years Virgil Earp Meets His Wife of Long Ago.
Both Married a Second Time

Romantic Story of a Long Separation With the Sequel Pulled Off in Portland.
     Oregonian:  Virgil E. Earp, brother of Wyatt Earp, of Sharkey-Fitzsimmons fight fame, and a man with a record of his own is in Portland enjoying a reunion with his first wife and his only daughter, neither of whom he has seen for 39 years.  The wife is now the widow of the late Tomas Eaton, and Earp has another at Prescott, Ariz.  The story of the separation is one of those romances which give color to the adage that truth is once in a while stranger than fiction.
     Earp was married to his first wife, then Ellen Sysdam at Oskaloosa, Ia., in February, 1860.  He was then 17 years old and she was still younger.  The parents of both young people strenuously opposed the match - the girl's parents because they did not want their daughter, who was a native of Holland, to marry into an American family; Earp's because he was too young.  So the wedding was kept secret, the couple got only an occasional opportunity to see each other, and not till the birth of their daughter did they make their union known.  Then there was trouble on both sides of the house, which, however, was soon stilled by the enlistment of Earp in the civil war, when his child was two weeks old, and his immediate departure for the front.
     His young wife was left with her parents, who continually urged her to secure a divorce from her husband, and who finally took it upon themselves to declare the union at an end.  Soon word was received that Earp was wounded, then that he was dead, and his wife had no reason to doubt either report.  With her parents she came west, bringing her child, and in 1867 she married Thomas Eaton at Walla Walla.
     In the meantime Earp returned to his home, found his wife gone, heard from friends that she had married again, and philosophically decided that the best think he could do was to keep out of her way.
     This he did very successfully.  He married again in 1873, came west, and took an active part in the stirring times on the plains that have furnished unlimited inspiration for Old Sleuth and other chroniclers of cowboy days.  He was the famous chief of police of Tombstone, at the time of the killing of "Doc" Halliday.  His brother Wyatt, "Bat" Masterson, and other characters whose names have filled the flaring trumpet of fame were there at that time and took a hand in what happened.  Earp carries a lame arm which was plugged full of lead, and can tell many reminiscences that affect the hair like a stiff breeze.
     All this time Mrs. Eaton was busy rearing a family of five children, the eldest of whom was Earp's daughter, Janie, now Mrs. Levi Law.  She came to Portland about 19 years ago, and for a long time has lived on North Front street, opposite the United States engineers' mooring ground.  Her husband, who was a well-known wood dealer, died several years ago.  After a while she heard that there was nothing in the story about Earp's death, but under the circumstances she was not especially eager to renew the acquaintance.  Even when she found that he had been keeping himself informed in a general way of the welfare and that of his daughter, there was no correspondence.  Earp, having the second Mrs. Earp to care for, made no effort to restore the first wife to his fireside.  Had circumstances been such that this was entirely agreeable, he was not at all sure that she still cared for him.
     The present reunion was brought about by the recent illness of Earp's daughter, Mrs. Law, who had learned the story of her father and discovered that his present residence was at Prescott, Ariz.  She had been corresponding with him since September, and expected to make him a visit last winter, but a sudden attack of pneumonia changed her plans, and instead her father hastened to her bedside.
     He is now enjoying a very pleasant visit with her and his two grandchildren, at her home, which is near that of Mrs. Eaton, in North Portland.  He will remain for several days more, before he starts on his journey home.  Years have taken away the pain the meeting between the former husband and wife would once have caused, and the little visit has been a most happy one for all.

(Sharon Wick's note:  According to marriage records, Virgil's wife was Magdelena S. Rysdam and his daughter's name was Nellie Jane Earp.)

The Dallas Morning News
Dec. 20, 1896

Earp's Frontier Life

Leaves from the Whirling Past of a Man with a Remarkable Record.

New York Journal.
     Washington, Dec. 3. - In the early eighties I was a neighbor of the Earp family.  They abode at Tombstone, Ariz., and did much toward making that hamlet a thrilling place of residence.
     Wyatt Earp is one of four brothers, two of whom, Julian and Warren Earp, are happily dead and out.  The four Earp brothers were abundant about Tombstone in 1881, 1882 and 1883.  The community in 1883 assumed a positive attitude toward the Earps and presented a front to that household made up in the main of winchesters and Colt sixshooters.  The Earps construed his into a lack of confidence on the part of the Tombstone public.  They resented it by shaking the dust of Tombstone from their feet forever.  They migrated to the Gunnison country.  They were subsequently run out of the Gunnison country and Wyatt and Virgil Earp went to California, where Wyatt the other night refereed the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight.
     The four Earps were named respectively Virgil, Wyatt, Warren and Julian.  They had a sister, Jessie, who was with them in Tombstone.  Of her, as novelists say, more anon.  Virgil was the oldest Earp, Wyatt

Added by Sharon Wick on 2/18/2008