In August of 1957 someone left the marker pictured above (W. Earp 1848-1929, J Earp, 1861-1944) near Lake Warren. It was discovered by some young man who did not want to be identified (who was this?), brought to town, and, after purportedly being insured for $10,000 by the Prime Beef Festival Committee, was displayed in the window of Monmouth’s most prominent restaurant, Hedrick’s, on South Main. Gerald Swisher of Davenport discovered it in the back seat of his car after returning from an evening visit to Monmouth. Then a stranger appeared, identified himself as a San Francisco detective and took the stone away. (Peoria Journal Star, Sept 1, 1957, C-7) This was not the authentic headstone (San Diego Evening Tribune, March 20, 1981, p. 20), but it was never been seen again.
Swisher was the regional stringer for the Associated Press!
The Review-Atlas of June 6, 1989 printed this letter:
Not long ago, I learned there is a controversy in your city about the exact house which was the birthplace of Marshal Wyatt Earp. Do you think there is any possibility that he might have been born in some other town than Monmouth? Here is why I am wondering.
John H. (Doc) Holliday, my great-grandfather, was a friend and associate of Wyatt Earp. Doc's son (my grandfather) lived for a time in Tombstone as a small boy. This was sometime after the affair at the OK Corral although I don't know just exactly when.
Anyway, Grandpa used to tell me about talking with "Uncle" Wyatt, as he called him, and I have a vivid recollection of my grandfather telling me once that Wyatt had mentioned being born in a town called Yellow Banks. I can't find such a town in my atlas, so maybe Grandpa got it all wrong, or else I just don't remember it properly.
However, I thought your readers might find this recollection interesting. I hope somebody figures out the truth sooner or later.
737 N. Euclid Ave
Tucson, Az. 85719
Monmouth residents would quickly recognize Yellow Banks as Oquawka and Euclid as a major east-west street in Monmouth. Doc, of course, had no children.
Mike Royko wrote a column, "Second-guessing at the O.K. Corral", for the Chicago Tribune December 28, 1989. (For those of you who do not hail from Chicago-land, his humorous columns were widely read for decades.) Bill Campbell (a local paraplegic occasional columnist) contributed to the Review-Atlas a far-fetched theory that was received variously as mildly funny or not helpful. Certainly the duel with live ammunition that he recommended would result in fewer letters to the editor.
I've squashed a couple of suggestions by local jokers to make the situation more complicated.
Local columnist Jon Davis wrote a column November 30, 1993, for the Review-Atlas entitled "Is Monmouth a tourist's paradise?" His suggestions for "fleecing" tourists ranged from Ronald Reagan having lived here as a boy (the house still stands) to arranging tours of Mississippi floods and shoot-outs between Elvis impersonators.
Phil Luciano wrote a column for the Peoria Journal-Star February 4, 1994, entitled "Earp's Monmouth no movie magnet." He wrote, "Next to the house is a wide yard rimmed with a wooden fence. Percy [the resident in the rental part of the house] said that on every Earp birthday, there's a re-enactment of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. I should have figured that out, since the fence is scrawled with the word's "O.K. Corral" in what looks like authentic Wild West spray paint. Who was in charge of scenery here, a street gang? Still, you can't beat the price for the tour, $1--especially since I forgot to pay. Tell Costner to pick up my tab."
Bottom line: the community does not take the birthplace controversy very seriously.
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Some letters seem genuine