14 Things You Didn’t Know About Wyatt Earp

4 min readMay 22

This guy has had some great PR.

Creative Commons: Marion Doss

Wyatt Earp is probably the best-known lawman from the Old West. It seems that Wyatt was the beneficiary of great PR via movies, TV and even literature, though I may be using the term “literature” a little loosely. Having Kurt Russell portray Earp in “Tombstone” and Kevin Costner play the lead role in “Wyatt Earp” no doubt enhanced his legend.

As for TV, Hugh O’Brian’s version of Earp in “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” made Earp seem like a saint. A deadly saint, but a saint, nonetheless. So, how did Wyatt come to have such a relatively clean image despite having such a controversial life? In part because he outlived his adversaries and had Stuart Lake write his autobiography.

Plus, Earp spent his last days in Los Angles being around the film industry. That probably didn’t hurt. So, here are some things you might not have known about Wyatt Earp.

1: His first stint as a lawman went poorly.

He was a constable in Lamar, MO. but after his wife died, things really went downhill. He was accused of embezzling funds in 1870. In 1871 he was accused of horse theft. Earp managed to escape from jail and went fled to Peoria. Ill. Obviously miscast as a lawman, he should have went into politics.

2: While in Peoria, he was arrested for running a brothel.

His brother, Morgan and several women were also busted. After being fined and released, he was later again busted for running a brothel on a steamship he owned. That led to his popular slogan, “One if by land, two if by sea.” Hold on, being told that wasn’t his line.

3: From there it was on to Wichita.

In Wichita, his brother James operated a brothel, aka the family business. Actually, in telling his life story, I believe Wyatt refereed to running a brothel as being involved in the hospitality industry.

4: While in Wichita, he worked as a deputy town marshal.

This was after he worked as a bouncer in his brother’s brothel. It seems like law enforcement agencies were a little light when it came to…


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