SUMMARY of 1989 article in
True West by William Urban: "Wyatt Earp's Father":
Many have noted how close the Earp
family was. Wyatt clearly learned values and skills from his father,
which makes it all the more strange that so little has been written about him.
Nicholas Porter Earp was never long out of contact with his sons,
and for that reason his two daughters-in-law, Mrs. Wyatt Earp and Mrs Virgil Earp,
are good sources of information.
However, they only knew Nicholas as an old man. Hence,
their stories of
Nicholas Earp's days in Monmouth were less than fully inaccurate.
Part of this article deals with Nicholas Earp's
Mexican War experience, in which his military service record
was enhanced by his pension application and letters from volunteers to the
Monmouth Atlas. Nicholas Earp was discharged in Veracruz with a group of invalids
in December of 1847, and arrived in Monmouth a month before
the birth of his son. He named the child born March 19,
1848, in honor of his commander, Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp.
Should anyone doubt the accuracy of the newspaper accounts
and of the note February 11 in the Atlas that Nicholas Earp had returned
they should remember that the military service record has the person identified
in Jalapa as Nicholas Earp has him dying there.
More has been learned about Nicholas's
For Nicholas Earp's return to Monmouth 1856 to 1859,
see The People
versus Nicholas P. Earp
There is an account of the 1864 overland trip
from Salt Lake City to California that contains some
comments about Nick Earp: "Rousseau Diary.
Across The Desert to California, From Salt Lake City
to San Bernardino," San Bernardino County
Museum Association, VI/2 (Winter 1958).
A summary of its contents is on the site of
the San Bernardino Oral History Project:
great grandmother who came out, who was the lady who had the arthritis, she
kept a diary of her trip and I have a copy of that. Because also, on that same
wagon trip the wagon master was Nicholas Earp, the father of the notorious
Earps. As a matter of fact a couple of them were still young enough to be
traveling with them. I don't remember right off hand which. I want to say
Wyatt and Virgil, but I'm not positive on that. Apparently Nicholas Earp had
been to California once before and he, therefore took over leadership as wagon
master. He also, from what I've been able to find and my father was able to
find out, he had been in the Union Army at one time, Nicholas Earp had, and
was doing fine until Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He was
willing to fight to keep the union together, but not to free the slaves and
resigned his commission and left. I don't have historical chapter and verse of
that, but that's what I've been told. They were from the town of Pella, which
is near the town of Knoxville in Iowa where my grandparents came from. But
anyway there were the Earps and there were also the Curtis's who went on to
become rather well know in the state judicial. There was, I don't think he was
ever on the State Supreme Court, but Jessie Curtis who was high up on the
state courts and then another one who was locally important in the state
courts. As a matter of fact, he was the one, my dad had the original copy of
the diary and Judge Curtis borrowed it and had ditto copies made of it. I
still have the original, but I also have a ditto copy because about, I don't
remember how many years ago it's been now, it's before I retired my wife and I
went back to Iowa and retraced in our motor home the route of the diary coming
out as best we could. I'm sure several times we were right in their path, but
it was a very interesting trip to go back to Knoxville and to see the town
there. We talked to some people back there who knew of them. There was one
daughter who stayed back there.
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