Wyatt Earp's family can reliably be traced to Thomas Earp, Jr. (b. 1656, England - d. 1720, Maryland). It would appear that the first Earp to study law was Wyatt's grandfather, Walter, a Justice of the Peace in Monmouth, Illinois, although his chosen profession was school teacher. He would marry and a son, Nicholas, Wyatt's father, would be born in 1813. Other children born to Walter and wife Martha were Lorenzo Dow in 1809, Elizabeth in 1811, Josiah Jackson in 1816, James in 1818, Francis in 1821, Walter C. (twin) in 1824, Jonathan Douglas (twin) in 1824, Sally Ann in 1827.
Walter and family later moved to Kentucky and there Nicholas married his first wife, Abigail Storm in 1836. To this union a son, Newton and daughter, Mariah, were born. Mariah would die a short time after her birth. Abigail Earp died on October 8, 1839, from what cause I have been unable to find. In 1840, Nicholas Earp married Virginia Ann Cooksey in Hartford, Kentucky. Following the marriage of Nicholas and Virginia, son James was born in 1841 and Virgil in 1843. Walter Earp, apparently setting the stage for what would be a forever traveling family of Earps, grew restless and moved with Nicholas and family to Monmouth, Illinois. There Walter was elected Justice of the Peace and Nicholas supported his family by being a cooper, dealing real estate, farming, and bootlegging. Wyatt was born in 1848 (March 19th), Morgan in 1851, Warren in 1855 and Adelia in 1861. Two other daughters, Virginia and Martha died early in age.
In 1850, Nicholas packed up the family and headed to Pella, Iowa. The family would remain there until Virgil, Newton and James went off to fight for the Union when the Civil War broke out in 1861. James was wounded in battle and drew a permanent disability because of it. A story was told by Stuart Lake of a young Wyatt trying to run off and join the Union, but was stopped by his father.
With Virgil and Newton still off at war, and James recently returned home, Nicholas Earp again packed up the family and moved them in a wagon train to California in 1864. Virgil eventually caught up with the family in California when he was discharged from the military. With older brother James wounded, Wyatt grew up fast on the trip west, hunting and fending off Indian raids. True to the Earp tradition, in 1868, the family moved again, this time to Lamar, Missouri. Shortly thereafter the family apparently moved to Wyoming for a time where Wyatt and Virgil worked on the railroads. The family would move back to Lamar before 1870 where Wyatt would have his first experience as a law man and marry his first wife. Nicholas and Virginia Earp eventually settled down in the San Bernardino area of Southern California where Nicholas was elected to the County Court and served until his retirement a short time before his death . Virginia Earp died on January 14, 1893. Nicholas died on February 12, 1907.
In 1877, Virgil and Allie were living in Prescott, Arizona where he worked occasionally in law enforcement prior to moving to Tombstone. Virgil was permanently crippled following the wounds he received in the ambush in Tombstone, forever unable to use one arm. Virgil would go on to be the first Marshal in Colton, California and in 1900 was nominated to run for Sheriff of Yavapai County, Arizona on the Republican ticket.
In 1879, Wyatt left Dodge City with Morgan and Doc and spent a short time in Las Vegas, New Mexico. From there they moved on to Prescott, Arizona where Virgil is living. It is at this point that a plan is hatched to move to a booming town where silver has been found, Tombstone.
Wyatt planned to establish a stage line in Tombstone, but discovered there were already two in town, and bought the gambling concession at the Oriental Saloon instead. His brother Virgil became town marshal, while Morgan took a job with the police department. Wyatt met his third wife, Josie (Josephine Marcus Earp), who remained with him until his death in 1929.
By October 26, 1881, a feud had developed between the Earp brothers and a gang led by Ike Clanton which culminated in the most celebrated gunfight in western folklore -- the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Three of the Clanton gang were killed, while Ike and another wounded member escaped. The three Earp brothers -- Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan -- along with Doc Holliday survived. Both Morgan and Virgil were wounded, and Virgil was later terminated as marshal for his role in the homicides.
In March, 1882 Morgan Earp was gunned down by unknown assassins. Wyatt, along with his brother Warren and some friends, embarked on a vendetta during which all four suspects were eventually killed.
After being accused of these murders, Wyatt and Josie fled Arizona to Colorado. then made the rounds of western mining camps over the next few years. They turned up in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho and in 1886, settled briefly in booming San Diego;Wyatt gambled and invested in real estate and saloons.
In 1897, Wyatt and Josie headed for Nome Alaska where they operated a saloon during the height of the Alaska Gold Rush. They returned to the states in 1901 with an estimated $80,000 and immediately headed for the gold strike in Tonopah, Nevada, where his saloon, gambling and mining interests once again proved profitable.
Thereafter, Wyatt took up prospecting in earnest, staking claims just outside Death Valley and elsewhere in the Mojave Desert. In 1906, he discovered several veins that contained gold and copper near Vidal, California on the Colorado River and filed numerous claims at the base of the Whipple Mountains.
Wyatt spent the winters of his final years working these claims in the Mojave Desert and living with Josie in their Vidal cottage. He and Josie summered in Los Angeles, became friends with early Hollywood actors and lived off real estate and mining investments.
On Jan. 13, 1929, Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles at the age of 80. Cowboy actors Tom Mix and William S. Hart were among his pallbearers. Wyatt's cremated ashes were buried in Josie's family plot in Coloma, California, just south of San Francisco. Josie died in 1944, at the age of 75, and was buried beside him.
Among his enduring legacies are as frontiersman, lawman, gambler and prospector, and a post office near his Mojave Desert mining claims along the Colorado River on Route 62 which bear the name -- "Earp, California 92242."