Not Much of a Gunfight Near the OK Corral


You people wanted rain and we got it. From a drought situation to the wettest October of all time. The upper low that got cut off from the rest of the world and wandered about the southern plains and then the southeast and then back to the lower Mississippi Valley is traversing north, passing us to the west. It will then accelerate out toward the northeast. Look for a cloudy, breezy and cool day on Saturday before the sun breaks out with avengence Sunday. It will be dry toward midweek when another front drops down. Until then, a cool Sunday will lead to moderating temperatures toward midweek.

On This Date In History: In the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona an event occurred that would be etched in western lore: The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Trouble is many historians say it didn’t happen at the OK Corral and it wasn’t much of a gunfight. There had been many disputes between the Earps (Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan) and a group of ruffians known as the Cowboys. Five of the group gathered on this date in 1881 on a vacant lot near the OK Corral. Virgil was the town Marshall with Wyatt and Morgan as his deputies. Their friend and gambler, John (Doc) Holliday joined the Earps and the quartet went down the street to greet the Cowboys. At about 3 pm the gunfight began. About 30 seconds and 30 gunshots later, it was over. Unlike the movie versions, particularly the one with Burt Lancaster, it apparently involved the Earps and Holliday walking up and gunfire breaking out. There is dispute about who fired the first shot but in the end, 3 of the 5 cowboys lay dead and all but Wyatt was injured, though one of the remaining Cowboys fled. There was a trial for the Earps but they were found not guilty with the judge saying they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.”

If you go and look this up, you will find all sorts of conflicting stories. The early movies were based almost solely on the reminiscences of Wyatt Earp, who spent his later years in Hollywood as a consultant to those making westerns. So, the stories tend to lean toward Wyatt’s heroics. Later films try to be more realistic. But there is no real clear cut truth. However, one interesting aspect to the Earp lore appears to be true. That is that Wyatt, through all of his gunfights and violent episodes never once was shot. The same can’t be said of those who rode with him or against him. Wyatt died in 1929 in Hollywood, CA. Many of the western movie stars of the day attended his funeral.

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