The 'Immortal' Wyatt Earp


8-4 Doc Holliday.jpg

By Lynnae Touchette

Dr. Holliday, a dentist from Abingdon, portrays Doc Holliday the famed gun fighter during the 2009 reenactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral in Monmouth.

By Marty Touchette

Daily Review Atlas

Mon Aug 03, 2009, 10:31 PM CDT


MONMOUTH On a day that resembled the fateful day of the original Gunfight at the OK Corral, October 26, 1881, approximately 200 Wyatt Earp fans witnessed Monmouth's annual reenactment of the event.


With a light rain falling, just as it had over 100 years ago, the drama played out as close to reality as possible with over a dozen actors in vintage garb portraying everyone from townspeople to Earp himself. Long-time director Dan Porter of Shady Creek Shootists said the only thing missing was the horse.


"The horse would be running around scared from the noise and run over people," Porter said. "We can't have that."


Between the rain and having no major celebrity on hand, turn out was down from the last year.  Many came last year to meet Hugh O'Brian who played Earp on TV. But, organizers were not disappointed.


"People drove through he rain to get here," Matson said. "I am very happy."


Since 1986 Matson said the show has only been rained out once.


Attendees came from as far as the west coast to see the spectacle of an old-west gun fight.
Cierra Sydnor came from California.


"This is cool, different," she said. "Usually I go to Vegas."


Her father, Ron, has lived in Monmouth for 12 years.


"I am really enjoying this. It is my first time," he said. "I like the loud noises and old guns."


The original gun fight actually took place in a lot on Fremont street behind the OK Corral. The fight lasted just 30 seconds with at least 30 rounds fired.


To some, Earp carries a special meaning in their lives. One such man is Senior Deputy United States Marshall Charles Holmes, retired, of Florida. Holmes makes the trip most years to speak at the event. He had some strong words for those who doubt the veracity of claims about Earp being born in the house at 406 South 3rd Street.


He told the crowd.


"Some people don't believe we went to the moon. Some people don't think Wyatt Earp was born in that house. I don't know about all that, but I know that he was," Holmes said. "I am sorry about that but he was born in that house on March 19, 1848."


Earp holds a special place in Holmes' life.


"The man done miracles while he was on Earth as a law man. He is an immortal. If he was just some law man we wouldn't be here," Holmes said.


He went on to describe the day that Curly Bill Brocius fired a shot gun a few feet away from Earp, but the Monmouth native escaped unscathed.


"That shows he was an immortal," Holmes said.


The fascination with Earp brought new comers to the show this year, as in all years.


"This is my first time in this town. I have always been interested in the old west and had friends from church say I should come up," said Richard Byrd of Bloomington. "This is pretty cool with the costumes and show."


At the show Melba and Bob Brooks, as well as Porter, were awarded with unique Wyatt Earp pocket watches for their years of service to his memory.


Doc Holliday also took part in the show. Doc Holliday as in the legendary gunfighter was portrayed by none other than Doc. Holliday a dentist from Abingdon.


"I have been collecting guns and stuff for 30 years," he said. "So they asked me to do this, it is a lot of fun."


It was his "fourth of fifth" time in the show.


In the end the day was about remembering Earp.


"There was only one Wyatt Earp," Holmes said.

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Thanks for the nice story, and thanks to all who came to honor Dep. U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp. We had visitors from America Samoa and Peru, along with visitors from four border states and in-between. Thanks to the Shootists for our Wyatt Earp watch. The state in 1956 honored the home as Wyatt Earp's birthplace with a bronze plaque. The home is now open by appointment only. Call the Chamber for times. Thanks again, Bob and Melba Matson, Trustees

 

Around town: America's most famous gunfight

By Patrick Stout

Macomb Journal

Mon Aug 03, 2009, 11:14 PM CDT

"Three Men Hurled Into Eternity in the Duration of a Moment" -- The Tombstone Epitaph, October 27, 1881.
The Arizona newspaper ran a news story featuring an eyewitness account of what came to be known as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The newspaper concluded its account with a statement that most prominent citizens considered the shootout to be justified.
Tombstone Marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Morgan and Wyatt, and John "Doc" Holliday marched toward a vacant lot near the corral, determined to disarm the Clanton gang.
The marshal, after keeping an all-night vigil, had arrested Ike Clanton for weapons possession just two hours earlier.
R.F. Coleman, an eyewitness, told the newspaper he had requested of both Cochise County Sheriff John Behan and Tombstone Marshal Earp that the Clantons and McLowrys be disarmed.
He said he heard Virgil Earp shout, "Give up your arms or throw down your arms."
As the two groups faced each other, Coleman reported seeing Tom McLowry and Holliday fire at each other at about the same time. "When the firing became general, over 30 shots (were) fired," he said.
"Wyatt Earp stood up and fired in rapid succession, cool as a cucumber, and was not hit. Doc Holliday was as calm as if at target practice, and fired rapidly."
After about 30-seconds of gunfire, Frank and Tom McLowry and Billy Clanton were dead. Ike Clanton had fled inside a nearby dancehall before the general shootout. Morgan and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded.
Wyatt Earp was unharmed.
This famous shootout is re-enacted in Monmouth on the first Saturday in August in a lot next door to the Wyatt Earp birthplace, 406 South 3rd Street. Dan Porter recruits and rehearses the gunfighters each year.
Charles Holmes, a real U.S. marshal now retired, comes to Monmouth from Floria each year to help with the Wyatt Earp day. Looking at an audience of about 100 on Saturday, he said, "Where's the rest of Monmouth?"
That's a good question, and one we'll address in a subsequent column.

Patrick Stout is a correspondent for The Macomb Journal. He can be reached at patrick@MacombJournal.com

Around town: Earp home needs support

By Patrick Stout

Macomb Journal

Thu Aug 13, 2009, 10:24 PM CDT

A guest speaker at the August 1 re-enactment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral at the Wyatt Earp birthplace in Monmouth asked why there wasn't more of a community turnout.
My take on the matter is that the city is not doing the type of things we do in Macomb to support a community event.
The local newspaper, the Review-Atlas, is the only organization that goes all-out to promote the annual Wyatt Earp Day. It provides significant advance coverage, and has a reporter on hand for interviews at the event itself.
One of my friends in Monmouth seems to think the neglect on the part of the city stems from some bad feelings in the late 1990s when the owners of the Wyatt Earp birthplace were pushing for some type of assistance with historic preservation and local promotion.
"It's a shame," she said of the present situation, noting that she tries to attend the annual event. The Review-Atlas reported that 200 people came this year, double what I had initially estimated when viewing the crowd.
Wyatt Earp was born upstairs at 406 South 3rd Street, a home being rented by his aunt. His father had just returned from the U.S.-Mexican War. Thompson Chapman, a man whose son would later marry into the Earp family, bought the house in 1853 and owned it for 11 years.
Other members of the Earp family, the Strattons, bought the house in the 1930s.
The home was recognized as Wyatt Earp's birthplace by the Warren County Historical Society in 1972, and historic preservationists in Monmouth held the first Wyatt Earp Day in 1985.
When the home was posted for sale in 1986, it was purchased by local educators Bob and Melba Matson. They continue to pay all upkeep on the home, and rent it as a museum to Wyatt Earp Birthplace, Inc. for a token payment of one dollar per year.
It seems to me that the city of Monmouth, its chamber of commerce, and any local tourism bodies ought to seek funding to improve the look of the Earp birthplace and to expand the August observance into more of a communitywide event.

Patrick Stout is a correspondent for The Macomb Journal. He can be reached at patrick@MacombJournal.com