The McLaury Brother's
Tombstone Story pt. III
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Table of Contents
Loose Lips and Stacked Chips
The Day of the Streetfight
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (...more or less)
Will McLaury Comes to Tombstone
The Trial of the Century
The List
Raising the Stakes
Wyatt's Cowboy Cleansing



Loose Lips and Stacked Chips
After the Apache outbreak, things settled down to normal... normal for Cochise County, that is. Back in town, the constant rumors of the Vigilance Committee, with their secret meetings and rituals (one account mentioned the kissing of a gun to seal the pact of allegiance), had tamed some of the rougher elements and further riled others. The McLaury's, possibly deciding it was time leave for good, were rounding up there stock for sale and preparing to travel first to Fort Worth, to see their older brother Will, then onto the family home in Iowa in time for their little sister, Sarah Caroline's wedding.3
On October 25th, while Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton were rounding up some remaining stock east of Tombstone, Tom and Ike rode into town in a wagon to settle some business accounts. That night Ike began drinking heavily. The more he got to drinking, the more he got to talking. Apparently, heavy on Ike's his mind was the Bisbee Stage robbery deal gone wrong between himself and Wyatt. He had especially feared that Earp had told Doc Holliday, who had been a friend of of one of the suspects, and that Holliday had been talking badly about Ike. As the night wore on, Ike blustered more and more that the Earps and Holliday were spreading lies about him. About one o'clock in the morning Clanton's and Holliday's path finally crossed. With Morgan at his back, Holliday confronted Clanton about misusing his good name around town and challenged him to make a fight of it. Clanton demurred, claiming he was unarmed. According to Ike testimony, "Doc Holliday said, as I walked out, 'You son of a bitch, you ain't heeled, go heel yourself.' Just at that time, Morgan Earp stepped up and said, 'Yes, you son of a bitch, you can have all the fight you want now.' I thanked him and told him I did not want any of it. I am not heeled."15 Ike then claimed, as Virgil also looked on, he politely asked them not to shoot him in the back as he left.
Where was Tom during this incident, once again, was unknown. Perhaps he was seeing his gal (or just any lady of the sporting persuasion) before he left Arizona. Regardless, he was later in attendance for yet another bizarre event leading up to the streetfight. Just about 12 hours before his murder at the hands of Holliday and the Earps, Tom settled down to a friendly game of poker with Ike, Johnny Behan, another man, and Virgil Earp. It's an interesting statement about the importance cards had in the old west, when adversaries could look at each other with blood in the eyes at one moment, then spend the next few hours seated together around a table at play. The boys played until 7 o'clock in the morning before breaking up. Even though everything seemed cordial throughout the early hours of October 26th, Ike, who obviously never stopped drinking, noticed that Virgil had played poker all the while with his six-shooter in his lap.
Upon leaving, Ike followed Virgil out and told him to relate a message to Holliday that he would fight him the next he saw him. Virgil told him to get some sleep and went home and to bed, himself. Again, Tom's demeanor or whereabouts were not mentioned. He was not seen until after one o'clock the next afternoon. Like Virgil, he probably went to get some sleep.
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The Day of the Streetfight
What would have happened if Ike Clanton had taken Virgil Earp's advise and slept off his drunk the morning of the 26th? Perhaps "the Gunfight at the OK Corral" would not have taken place, Marshal Dillon of Gunsmoke would have used Billy Breakenridge as his muse, Kevin Costner would have made 3 hour movie called Bat Masterson, the McLaury brothers would have peacefully left Arizona and I wouldn't have made this website... never mind.

Ike Clanton did not heed Virgil's words of wisdom on the morning of the streetfight that would make the exaggerated reputations of all participants involved for generations to come. Instead, he continued drinking and shooting his mouth off, going from saloon to saloon, swearing that when the Earps and Holliday made their presence about town, then "the Ball would open." Soon word spread around town that the cowboys were gunning after the Earps. Concerned citizens, many of which were alleged members of the Vigilance Committee, seemed more than eager to offer assistance against the gang of cowboys (made up of just Ike, at that time), and sought out the various Earp brothers to warn them.
A little after noon, a tired and drunk Ike had dug up enough courage and anger to arm himself. Whether or not Ike had been betrayed by Wyatt in a plot against fellow cowboys, Ike had been called yellow, and that was something he couldn't tolerate. He took up his pistol and Winchester rifle from the Saloon, and started looking for Doc Holliday and any Earp.
After a couple warnings, Virgil finally roused himself from bed and with the aid of Morgan, made a round about town. Easily locating the drunken stockraiser, Virgil snuck up behind Ike and buffaloed up-side the head with his six-shooter. The bloodied and dazed Ike was then easily disarmed and brought before court.
Before the judge arrived in court, a heated argument ensued between the three Earp brothers (Wyatt arriving after Virgil had apprehended Clanton). Threats of bloodshed were passed back and forth, at one point, Morgan offering a sixshooter to Ike before a deputy sheriff (Dave Campbell) stepped in between. After some tense moments, the judge arrived and laconically fined Ike $25.00 plus court fees and released him. Ike was told he could pick up his firearms from the Grand Hotel on his way out of town.
Angered by the many threats to him and his brothers lives, Wyatt stormed out of the courtroom only come up to Tom McLaury, face-to-face and heated words were exchanged. Several witnesses testified that Wyatt challenged Tom to draw, to which Tom declined, saying he had no quarrel with Earp. At this Earp slapped Tom with one hand, pulled his six-shooter with the other and struck Tom on the head, sending the bloodied McLaury falling into the street. Wyatt, himself, testified that Tom had cursed him and said he would fight Earp anywhere. Wyatt, seeing Tom's shooter in his belt, offered him to draw, to which McLaury declined. Wyatt then stated he slapped Tom with an open-hand cuff and buffaloed him once with his six-shooter. If this version was true, it was never revealed why Wyatt chose not to arrest McLaury for having a weapon on him. Regardless, Wyatt stalked off, leaving the angered stockraisers to tend to their bruises and further business.

During the morning of October 26th, while Ike had been going about town making threats against Holliday and the Earps, His brother, Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury were with fellow rancher, Edwin Frink, were just east of Tombstone rounding up cattle. Sometime between 1:30 to 2:00 that afternoon, the men rode into town and headed for the Grand to drown the dust. En route to the Grand Hotel, Billy and Frank were reportedly met and warmly greeted by Doc Holliday. None knew it for certain at the moment, but all participants to "The Ball" had their invitations and the introductory dance had begun. At the Grand, they met Billy Allen who told them of the troubles their brothers had been getting into. Without taking a drink or checking their weapons, Frank and Billy set out to find Tom and Ike, according to Allen's deposition, to get them out of town.
The McLaury and Clanton brothers, along with Billy Claiborne, who had been helping Ike at the Dr. office, met around the OK Corral and obviously hashed over the situation. Their first reaction seemed a clear sign as what the cattlemen were about to do, when Frank retrieved his horse. There next step was just the opposite, though, when the McLaurys and Clantons all went into Spangenberg's Gun Shop. Wyatt, who had been lounging down the street at Hafford's Saloon, moved in for a closer look and saw that the cowboys were loading up on ammunition. As this was going down, Frank's horse stepped up on the sidewalk, which was against city ordinance. In a bold and antagonistic move, Wyatt walked over and started to pull Frank's horse from the sidewalk. Frank came out and pulled the bridle from Earps hands. Wyatt told McLaury he would have to get his horse off the sidewalk. According to Wyatt, himself, Frank complied without argument. During the trial, Ike admitted he had tried to purchase a pistol at that time, but was refused.
The McLaury and Clanton brothers moved back onto Allen Street, with the Earps in and about the Oriental, both parties must have been aware of the stares and quieted conversations, from the townspeople, going on them. The tension must have been as thick as a desert duststorm by then. Tom headed off to Everhardy's Butcher Shop, to complete some unfinished business, as the rest went to Dexter's Livery to get Billy's horse.
As the McLaury's and Clanton's were moving about Allen, there routes converging toward the O.K. Corral, the Earp's and Holliday were considering their next movements. Various townsfolk, mostly members of the Vigilance Committee, had been approaching the town Marshal, inquiring about their attentions towards the cowboys. The final clincher for them seemed to be Sheriff Johnny Behan. Behan had been hearing the rumors about town as soon as he had awaken. Behan found Virgil and asked him about what was going on. Virgil replied that the cowboys were in town looking for a fight and he and his brothers intended to confront them. Virgil stated that he intended to disarm and arrest the boys and asked for Behan assistance, to which Behan declined. In Behan's version of the meeting, Virgil said he planned to make a fight of it with the cowboys, to which Behan complained that it was Virgil's duty to disarm rather than encourage a shootout. Behan then told Marshal Earp to hold off while he went down to talk with the cattlemen, that he would go down alone to disarm them. As the Sheriff went off around the corner and down Fremont Street, Virgil, who had gathered up a Wells Fargo sawed-off shotgun, went to Hafford's to meet his brothers and Doc Holliday.
According to witnesses, Tom had left the butcher shop with his shirttail pulled out and a "bulge" protruding his pocket. Prosecution would later raise the speculation that Tom had armed himself while in the butcher shop. Another theory claimed that the "bulge" was from the large amount of money Tom was carrying at the time, almost $3000.00. The rest of the group had come back from Dexter's Stable. The group of stockraisers and cowboys met at the front entrance of the O.K. Corral, passed through and and out a back alley. The McLaury's split from the rest to take care of some business at Union Market while the rest turned down the alley that led to a vacant lot, bordered by Fly's Boarding House and Photography Gallery and Harwood's Boarding House on Fremont Street. As this was happening, the Earp's and Holliday had begun the march down Fourth, then Fremont Streets that would become the model of the classic showdown for thousands of books and movies to come. In an obvious gesture of peaceful, but cautious intent (at least from Marshal Virgil Earp), Virgil had Holliday take and hide the sawed-off shotgun under his longcoat, while Virgil carried a walking cane.
Let the Ball open!
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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
(...more or less)
While Frank and Tom were talking with A. Bauer about money owed to the Union Market, Sheriff Behan strode briskly to them and demanded they give up their weapons. Frank declined due to the Earp's action during the day, but also said he planned to cause no trouble. Behan then ushered Frank and Tom to the vacant lot where the Clantons, Claiborne and a tag-a-long, Wesley Fuller, were waiting. Behan again told the men to give up there arms, to which Frank and Billy declined. He patted down Ike, Fuller and Claiborne and gave a visual assessment for Tom as he held open his vest and proclaimed he was unarmed. At this, the Earp gang rounded the corner onto Fremont at a steady stride. Behan rushed back to the Earps claiming he had disarmed the cowboys, only to be brushed aside from the Earp's path. Behan judiciously ducked into Fly's Gallery for cover. As the Earp's passed the Union Market, a witness heard Morgan say, "Let them have it." To which Doc Holliday replied, "Alright."
The scene the Earp's walked up to was not the typical "spread out with 20 feet between you" showdown TV and movies so often used. The lot's entrance on Fremont Street was only about 15 feet wide. Inside were six men and two horses and The Earps crowded the entrance. By the time the Earps stopped, they were probably less than two paces from the cowboys. Seeing the Earps approach, Claiborne and Fuller faded away, leaving the Clanton's and McLaury's to meet them. Virgil yelled out, "Throw up your hands, I want your guns." As the earp party halted, Doc Holliday continued forward and jabbed one of the ranchers in the stomach with his shotgun, then stepped back. The sound of two pistol hammers click, click back caused Virgil to hold up both arms and yell, "Hold, I don't want that!"

Let's see... how many different ways and/or opinions have I read about what happened next? I think the initial coroner's verdict by H.M. Matthews was the most factual account that I have read:
William Clanton, Frank and Thomas McLowery, came to their deaths in the town of Tombstone on October 26, 1881, from the effects of pistol and gunshot wounds inflicted by Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp and one - Holliday, commonly called "Doc" Holliday.

The beginning of the fight is still being contested today. Based on the testimonies of the key witnesses, and which witnesses one chooses to believe, there are two favored starts of the fight. Both sides had non-partisan witnesses to back up key points of the trial. Likewise, each side equally had biased testimonies that leave room for suspicion of lying on the stand.
The pro-cowboy version, goes that when Virgil called for the cowboys to throw up their hands, they complied immediately. But at the same time, Doc Holliday advanced, jabbing one of the Cowboys in the gut with the shotgun, took two steps back, and with Morgan Earp, shot at Frank and Billy, or Frank and Tom, scoring hits, respectively. Virgil's, "Hold I don't want that," was directed at Holliday and his brother. The cattlemen were not even offered a fair fight. Billy was thrown up against the wall, Frank, with a gutshot, probably already a mortal wound, staggered out into the middle of Fremont, still holding the reins of his horse. Witnesses say that about 4 more shots were fired by the Earps before the only two armed cowboys, Billy and Frank were able to pull their six-shooters and fight back. The horse Tom was behind had taken too much and bolted, leaving an unarmed McLaury. Holliday, who had already been maneuvering to get a killing shot off on Tom, finally brought the shotgun into play and shot Tom at point-blank range. Dealt with a death-blow by one of the deadliest men of the time, Tom staggered away from the scene and down the corner of Third and Fremont.
The pro-Earp side, had the start of the fight very differently. This scenario goes that as Virgil called for the cowboys to throw up their hands, Tom was reaching for the rifle in Billy's horses scabbard. But at the same time, Doc Holliday advanced, jabbing one of Tom in the gut with the shotgun, making Tom release his grip from the rifle, then took two steps back. According to them, the double click, click had come from Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury, who had gone for their pistols. And it had been Billy and Wyatt who had shot first. Billy at Wyatt and Wyatt at Frank, whom he deemed the most dangerous cowboy in the fight. Also, it was claimed that Tom may have had a hidden six-shooter and had been shooting under the neck of the horse, hitting Virgil in the calf. And that his pistol had been picked up after the fight and hidden. Holliday held his fire through the first volley until he got a clear shot at Tom, then calmly went to his pistol to finish his deadly work. It was also suggested that someone, Claiborne, possibly even Sheriff Behan, had been shooting at the Earps from the back of Fly's Gallery.

Those, I believe are the two most popular ways the fight started, not barring minor alterations here and there. The rest of the streetfight was generally accepted by both prosecution and defense.
After the first four shots had been fired, there was a lull. Ike ran up to Wyatt and tangled his arms yelling that he had no pistol. Ike pushed him up to the sidewalk in front of Flys Gallery as Wyatt told him to get to fighting or leave. Ike then bolted into the Gallery and escaped out the back.
Billy had been shot at least twice before getting his shooter into the play. Up against the wall, he was easy target shooting for the Earps and Holliday. Some theorize that he had shot Virgil, but I feel that he was not able to hit anyone during the fight. Never moving from his first position, Billy slid down the wall after taking many hits. Early in the fight, he had his shooting arm smashed by a bullet. Sitting up against the wall, Billy switched his pistol to his other hand and gamely stayed in the fight until the end. With as much as seven bullets in him, Billy was yelling for more bullets so he could continue fighting. Frank, bent over in half with his gutshot, ran dizzily across the street with his horse and pulling his shooter. But the horse could take no more and fled the scene, jerking Frank off his feet. Lying and kneeling in his own blood, the admittedly deadliest gun on the cowboy side finally came into the affray. About the time Billy was doing a "border switch" with his pistol, Virgil fell with wound to his calf, going through the side, but missing the bone. Right after, Morgan took a shot that went through the back of his shoulder, clipped one of the vertebrae and passed out through the back of his other shoulder. Considering the generally accepted positions of all combatants, it's a good chance the dying Frank McLaury may had shot both Virgil and Morgan successively. Frank then drew his bead on Doc Holliday and supposedly gave him the classic, "I've got you now," bad-guy death-oath before firing. Which, of course enabled Holliday to respond with the classic "You're a daisy if you do," good-guy smart-ass one-liner. Whether or not Doc got to call him a "daisy" or "huckleberry" or something less flowery, Frank just missed Holliday, clipping his hip by the holster. Holliday and Morgan, who had gotten to his knees, responded with nearly simultaneous shots, one of them killing him with a shot to the head, closing the streetfight.

Then, finally, silence for a brief moment. C.S. Fly removed Billy's gun from his hands, refusing his pleas for more ammunition. Other's had to prevent an angered Doc Holliday from taking yet more retribution on the corpse of Frank McLaury, yelling, "That son-of-a-bitch has shot me, and I mean to kill him." And then a siren from the mines broke the silence. A call for the Vigilance Committee to form against a threat. People started coming from nowhere to see the outcome of some 30 shots fired in about as many seconds. Frank was noted to have been conscious as the first few citizens gathered around, but died before he could be moved. Tom was still alive when he was carried indoors but never spoke again and died soon after. No arms were found on or near his body. He was carrying $2943.45, probably a considerable wad of paper and change. Billy, a fighter to the end, screamed and pleaded for an ease to his pain and for the crowd to leave him to die in peace. A doctor finally came and gave him a large injection of morphine. He died a few minutes later.

Ike Clanton, the man responsible for the "opening of the Ball," had run from the dance and was found hiding in, appropriately, in a dancehall. He was arrested and placed in jail, more for his own safety than safety from him. Marshal Virgil Earp and Special Deputy Morgan Earp had painful but clean wounds that would heal safely. Special Deputy Doc Holliday probably had a nice bruise on his hip, and Special Deputy Wyatt Earp walked from the gunfight unscathed.
After things had begun to settle down and the dead and wounded were being removed from the field, Sheriff Behan came up to Wyatt and said he will have to be arrested. Wyatt flatly refused, and said he would only be arrested by a decent officer. And then all that was left to do was the townsfolk to look at the bloody spots and then go talk about it over drinks and poker and dinner.

The events surrounding this brief 30 seconds have been argued for the last 120 years. And I fully expect, at least another 120 years of arguments to come. I personally feel that Doc Holliday was the "spark" that started the gunfight.
As the Earp party came down the street to where the stockrasiers were standing, and speaking to Behan, Virgil, his brothers and Holliday, approached in a relatively passive, disarming manner. Virgil had his gun holstered, a cane in his shooting hand. Likewise, Wyatt had taken his pistol, which had been in hand and placed it in his coat pocket. Virgil had instructed Holliday to put the shotgun under his long coat. And I'm not sure if anything was mentioned about Morgan's demeanor, but safe to say, it was in a likewise manner in relation to his brothers. So, through Wyatt's and Virgil's testimonies, they came to the stockraisers in a lawful and disarming manner. At this point, the Earp party halted, except for Holliday. One eye-witness to the gunfight, Addie Bourlands testiified, "I suppose them to be cowboys, I saw four men coming down the street towards them. and a man in a long coat on walked up to the man holding the horse and put a pistol to his stomach, and then the man with the long coat on, stepped back two or three feet, and then the firing seemed general."16 Testimony established the man in longcoat had been Holliday. While the "man with the horse" may have been Frank, most claim it was Tom who got the pistol to his stomach, presumably to stop him from grabbing the rifle in the horses scabbard.
The Earp party just went from a disarming manner to a bluntly antagonistic manner. And not by any signaling from the leader of the group; City Marshall Virgil Earp. But, from the only man of the party with a known reputation of being quick to anger and quick to shoot. After hearing of his brother's abuse at the hands of Wyatt and then the further provocation of Holliday at their approach, may have been the match that lit the fire under Frank. And consequently, caused him and Billy to decide to make the fateful movement for their pistols. For it was at that split-second that Virgil claimed he yelled, Hold! I don't mean that!"
Having stated my opinion, I also feel that that was not the intentions of Marshall Virgil Earp. I feel Virgil was heading down there to prevent a fight, rather than start one. Furthermore, I feel, despite his violent provocation against Tom earlier, that Wyatt knew what Virgil intended and was there only as backup. And I believe, if the defense had gone after Holliday's provocation in detail, the trial may have gone differently. It is possible that point may have been held back deliberately, in order to bring forward in the Grand Jury trial that was expected. But the Grand Jury trial was never held, so we will never know.
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Will McLaury Comes to Tombstone
The next day marked possibly one the biggest social events that Tombstone ever had; the funerals of Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury. The undertakers at Ritter and Ream took full advantage of free advertisement by making the corpses presentable and displaying them in the window. A sign hung over the caskets with the proclamation: MURDERED IN THE STREETS OF TOMBSTONE. The funeral procession began late in the afternoon with the Tombstone Brass Band in lead of the two hearses bearing Billy and the McLaury brother's. Following were some 300 people on foot, about 25 carriages and buggies and one four-horse stage, trailing out in two full blocks. All along the procession route to boothill, stretched huge crowds of Townsfolk, paying their last respects, in varying degrees. In all, one estimate I've heard was that over 3000 people attended the spectacle. Billy was buried next to his father, with the McLaury brother's interred together in the next grave. A Coroners Inquest had also began, which came to the somewhat, anti-climatic determination that Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers had died from the effects of gunshot, at the hands of the the earp brother and Doc Holliday. A hearing was scheduled to begin on the first of November.

If the Earp's felt they had seen the last of the McLaury brother's, they were woefully mistaken. On the morning of the 27th, the day of his eldest son's 7th birthday, Will McLaury, older brother and closest living relative to Frank and Tom, received the brief telegraph message:

Dated: Tombstone A.T. 27, 1881
Received at: 9:50a To: S.A. Trimble "Inform McLearry that his brother Frank + Thomas were killed here yesterday. They had over three thousand dollars." L.H Halstrad 18pd.1/23

Will had already swallowed enough grief this year. In the summer of 1881, he had lost his wife, leaving him a widower with three young children to raise. Despite the idea of having to leave his children, who had so recently lost their mother, in the hands of non-relatives, Will did so and left for Tombstone immediately. He had come from a Scots-Irish family with strong ties. From a long line of seekers of justice and liberty. The 38 year old lawyer from Fort Worth could do no less for his murdered brothers.
Will grew up in mountains of New York, and later the plains of Iowa. Five years older than Frank, Will enlisted in the 47th Iowa Infantry, Co. K, in the summer of 1864. But instead of the glory of battle, Will's regiment was sent to Helena, Arkansas and assigned garrison duty. Although his regiment saw no battle, it was devastated by soldier's fiercest enemy during the war: disease. In the scant 3 months the 47th endured the malarious fens of the Arkansas summer, most of the regiment suffered from illness and some 57 men dead. Will mustered out a Brevet Captain and a bad case of the measles.
After the war, Will headed west into Vermillion, Dakota Territories where he farmed, drove stage and later, was admitted to the bar. There he met and married Lona DeWitt. The Dakotas were ablaze with warfare when Will and his young family left for Fort Worth. The Spring they left, the Sioux and other Plains Nations Indians, were massing and less than 100 miles away, near the Little Bighorn, a brash General named George A. Custer was dreaming of being President.
Will settled in Fort Worth, Texas and became an attorney at law. Being an "Iowa Republican," in the "Reconstruction" times of the South, Will was marked as a Radical and largely spurned. It wasn't until Will went into a partnership with ex-Confederate Captain S.P. Green, that he began to achieve some acceptance from the people of Fort Worth. By 1880, William had a thriving law practice and visions of entering into town and state politics.
With the death of his beloved Lona heavy on his brow, and his eldest son savoring his seven birthday, Will made preparations to leave for Tombstone. He placed his son and young daughter under the care of family friends and began the trip west.
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The Trial of the Century
Most of the people in Tombstone were used sporadic violence and gunplay about their town, but the quickness and ferocity that erupted the late afternoon of the 26th, shocked everyone. Sides were quickly taken. Minor disputes rose all over town. The fencesitters jumped from one side of the "opinion fence" to the other almost daily, throughout the Inquest and Hearing. The day of the fight, the Earp side seemed to have overwhelming support. But, by the end of the Coroner Inquest, serious doubts had been raised whether the Earp's and Holliday's intentions, as they walked down Fremont Street, were as lawmen or executioners.
The Coroner's trial had already been held while William had been en route to Tombstone. Enough evidence was submitted to warrant a preliminary hearing, which began on November 1st. The preliminary hearing, or what has come to be known as the "Earp/Holliday Trial," began on the first of November, with Justice of the Peace, Wells Spicer, presiding. The defense team was headed by Thomas Fitch for the Earp brothers, a man who would prove to be a life-long friend of Wyatt. Holliday was represented by Thomas J. Drum. Prosecution was led by newly-elected District Attorney, Lyttleton Price and Ike's attorney, Benjamin Goodrich. Filling out the prosecution was J.S. Robinson, Alexander Campbell. These last two may have actually been brought aboard the defense team when Will arrived.
The defense struck first, asking for bail for the defendants during the trial. Bail was admitted for $10,000.00 each, which was raised and paid. It's interesting to note that among the people who helped to make bail for Wyatt and Doc, were Wyatt's own attorney, Thomas Fitch, and a witness for the defense, Albert C. Billicke.

Will arrived in Tombstone, the night of November 3rd in considerable discomfort, "I have a severe cold. Out on the road between R.R.S., a team ran away with us and hurt me some and took cold."3 After checking into the Grand Hotel and making some inquiries, one of the first things Will noted was the Earp's walking so brazenly about town, fully armed and the fear of many of the townspeople showed as they passed. Another was that of the $3000.00, $1600.00 had been stolen from Tom's body after the fight.
The next day, Will was introduced to the court and allowed to join the prosecution as associate council. Will, himself claimed that he had paid for much of the prosecution team, "To prosecute these cases I have employed Alexander Campbell, late of California and ex judge Robison. Your husband will know these men as commissioned lawyers, they have no press in this country. Also Goodrich & Goodrich of this place. At one time did I know but I would prosecute myself."3 The defense consisted of Thomas Fitch for the Earp brothers and Thomas J. Drum, for Holliday.15 It is interesting to note that, aside from Goodrich, and possibly Robinson and Campbell, the court was decidedly Republican. Wells Spicer made no bones about his political affiliations. The defense team were noted Republican backers. District Attorney Price had just been confirmed his position he had won on a Republican platform. Even Frank and Tom's brother Will, had been labeled a "Radical Republican back in Fort Worth, although political persuasion was of the least consideration on his mind at the time. Only Ike Clanton's attorney, Ben Goodrich, an ex-Confederate, could make a claim for being Democrat.
Upon his admittance, Will immediately made the motion to have the defendants bail revoked. The rest of the prosecution warned against such a move, in fear of angering the Earps. But Will's motives were justice. It was his sworn duty to see his brother's murderers pay for their crimes and he wasn't afraid of Wyatt and Doc, "I went before court and was admitted. I then got associated as council for the state in the case. I then stood when I could send a knife through their hearts. If they made a moove (sp). And it was perhaps good for me they did not. For I was anxious to have an opportunity to send them over the bay."3 On November 7th, Judge Spicer relented and Wyatt and Doc were forced to spend the rest of the trial in jail. Virgil and Morgan were still too injured and escaped incarceration. This action, according to William, released the pressure valve in town while the Earps were walking free, "And that evening and night was a perfect hurrah. A large crowd followed me from the courtroom to the hotel. And at night, the hotel was completely thronged with people and they nearly shook my hands off. Witnesses were there plenty. Instead of making a fight when I made a motion, these men sat and trembled and whenever I go near them I can see it makes them nervous. I think we can hang them. I shall do my duty to that end."3

The prosecution team set about showing that the Earp's and Holliday had, with malicious intent, murdered Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury. A battery of witnesses testifying that the stockraisers were in the act of surrendering when the Earp gang opened fire. The two most damaging witnesses had been Sheriff Behan, who had testified ordering the Marshal to disarm, but not make a fight, and Ike Clanton, who testified that the foiled deal between himself and the Earps to capture the Bisbee Stage robbers, had been the reason for the Earps to commit murder. Will McLaury obviously felt the case was strong. "I think we can hang them."3 was Will's assessment of the Earp/Holliday inquest to his partner in Fort Worth soon after reaching Tombstone. Not to be outdone, the defense team whittled away on the prosecution witnesses, some who had actual or suspected criminal records, themselves.
About halfway through the month of November, the defense took the floor and proceeded to poke holes in the prosecution's case. They set out to establish that the cowboys were the aggressors and that they acted lawfully and dutifully. Their most damaging witnesses had been Wyatt and Virgil Earp, who testified that Ike had become enraged at the spoiling of the "deal," that Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury had jerked their shooters first, followed by Wyatt, and that Billy and Wyatt sent the first two shots in the streetfight. A dark-horse witness, someone with no obvious ties to any party in the trial, one HF Sills, of Las Vegas, NM., was the only one to corroborate with Wyatt's testimony that Billy and Wyatt had been the first shooters of the fight, even though he had been some 200 feet and at a bad angle from the action.

With the close of the hearing, it was solely up to Judge Spicer to recommend the defendants stand trial by jury or not. For reason supplied in his decision, Spicer decided that the Earps had acted within the realm of the law. That although Tom McLaury was presumably unarmed, the acts of Billy and Frank prompted the Earps and Holliday to defend themselves. And while suggesting that a trial by Grand Jury would be in order, if it chose to disagree with his verdict, Spicer found that the Earps and Holliday were not guilty and released.
Despite my obviously biased opinions, I feel Judge Spicer was fair. I also feel he could not have come to any other decision, even had their not been a clincher witness, like Sills. The simple fact was, Virgil Earp was a duly appointed officer of the law. And the idea of hanging a City Marshall under any but the most sever of circumstances, was unheard of. I believe even if it had been absolutely proved that known killer, Doc Holliday had precipitated the fight (which I think what actually did happen), the Earps would had escaped the gibbet.
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The List
Even with the negative results of the Spicer decision, Will, and many others fully expected a grand jury trial to be held. But, two weeks later, the grand jury upheld the decision and the case against the Earps and Holliday was legally laid to rest. The book of Justice had been closed. But, for the book of Revenge, it was only the end of the first chapter.
The Earps and Holliday were able to pursue political and business interests. Or so they thought, for, while Wyatt and Doc were incarcerated in jail and Virgil and Morgan incapacitated in bed, the mood around Tombstone had changed considerably. The Earps still had many of their strong, die-hard allies but many more had cooled toward them. Looking down at them with as much fear and distaste as the lowest tin-horn or cowboy. Their enemies in town had swelled in both hatred and bravado, and there was a score still to be settled.
Hence, rumors of the "List" began spreading about town. The "List" was a hit list of people who were singled out for assassination. Besides the Earps and Holliday, Mayor / Epitaph Editor Clum, Fitch, Drum and Judge Spicer were reported to be on it.
The first victim of alleged cowboy terrorism was the Honorable Mayor John Clum. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim his post as Indian Agent, Clum readied for a trip to Washington. On December 14th he left Tombstone on the stage. Along the way, highwaymen in the shadows ordered the stage to halt. Shots were fired and the driver spurred the horses into a gallop. About a half a mile past the robbers, the stage was stopped. One horse had been hit and had to be cut from the team. At this time, Clum was fearing for his life and felt the hold-up was merely a ruse to kill him. "I realized that my presence in the coach only jeopardized the other passengers. I was much better off with my feet on the ground and no sidelights. I struck off through the mesquite and cactus on foot.18 Sometime after midnight, Clum made it to the Grand Central quartz mill, was able to borrow a horse and continued on his journey to Washington. Back in town, the Epitaph wrote a daring escape from would-be murderers, while the Nugget wove a tale of the Mayor darting off into the wilderness after a spoiled, but routine stick-em-up.
About the same time, Judge Wells Spicer had received a letter from "A Miner," stating that he should leave Tombstone or lose his life. On December 15th, Spicer submitted a defiant response in the Epitaph, claiming he would not bow to threats from the rabble of the city. The same night, an altercation between Virgil Earp and M.E. Joyce occurred in the Oriental Saloon. In discussing the attempted stage hold-up, Joyce flippantly remarked he had not been surprised, considering the Earp party had been since liberated. Virgil responded to this with a slap across Joyce's face. Quickly surrounded by Earp partisans, Joyce backed out of the Saloon, claiming he would deny them their favorite mode of murder, by shooting him in the back.16
About two weeks later, three days after Christmas, the Earp / Cowboy feud rose yet another bloody notch when Virgil was ambushed by assassins bearing shotguns. Taking multiple buckshot to his left side, Virgil was struck down. Although seriously wounded, Virgil survived the attack. But at the cost of the use of his left arm, which some five inches of bone splinters had to be removed. According to George Parsons, who was present during the aftermath, "It is surmised that Ike Clanton, Curly Bill and McLaury did the shooting"17 While Will McLaury was certainly a prime suspect in the shooting, he had a very good alibi for not one being of the shootists. According to December 28th Nugget, "W.R. McLowry, brother of the unfortunate boys killed not long since on our streets, left Monday for his home at Fort Worth, Texas. He will return in about one month for the purpose of settling up his deceased brother's estate.16 There was certainly a valid reason for Will to be a suspect, probably through his outer demeanor over the subject of his brother's murders. He even admitted, himself, veiled intentions should the Earps walk free, "The people are backing me thoroughly. They have to be kept quiet. I think the men will be punished according to law. And if in the event they escape by any trick or otherwise then, if you read the papers there will be more 'Press Dispatches'."
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Raising the Stakes
The year of 1882 began with Tombstone in turmoil. The City Marshal was out of commission and many held no trust in the county Sheriffs office. The county and town elections were at a fevered pitch, which resulted in a decided "anti-Earp" victory, whereas a majority of the candidates backed by the Epitaph, lost resoundingly. Fights between the Earp and cowboy sides, both by pen and fist, were breaking out.
Wyatt took the crippling of Virgil to telegraph US Marshal Crawley Dake and request an appointment to US Deputy Marshal in place of his brother, and was given it. The stagecoach robberies in Cochise county were picking up again. Both the cowboy and earp gangs were being blamed in the gossip circles. On one occasion in early January, 1882, the famed Wells Fargo Agent Jim Hume suffered great embarrassment when he lost a pair of prize pistols to robbers while en route to Tombstone. On the 17th, another streetfight in Tombstone was narrowly avoided, when Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo squared off against each other. The fight was stopped at the last minute when newly-elected City Marshal Jim Flynn and Wyatt grabbed the combatants and separated them.
On January 23, warrants were issued for the arrest of Phin and Ike Clanton and Pony Diehl. On a different issue, it was decided that John Ringo, who was released on bond, should not have been let go. And so it was no less than three posses from Tombstone that made their way toward and around Charleston. One posse was led by Wyatt, with Morgan and Holliday. Another 21-man posse led by a John Henry Jackson set out specifically for Ringo. And later, yet another posse led by Charley Bartholemew set out in search of the elusive Ringo.
The Nugget covered the news of the posses with relish. Reports came in daily of large bands of cowboys chasing the Earp posse. And in return, increasing numbers of townsfolk going to the Earps rescue. The Charlestonians were less than pleased with actions of the posses in late January. According to reports, the Earp posse had ridden into town, harassing citizens, even taking one as hostage and forcing him under penalty of death, to point out possible residences where cowboys might be staying. They then went around town busting into house and establishments without warrant. Finding no cowboys, the Earp party finally released their hostage and rode out of town. Outside of town they ran into a traveler whom they detained and verbally abused, at least until they discovered the man was a deputy sheriff out Huachuca. Meanwhile, as Earp's posse and the other two were hurrahing the countryside. Their prey, Pony Diehl, Johnny Ringo, Ike and Phin Clanton had gone freely to Tombstone and turned themselves in. And after their hearings, they were released.
In February, Ike once again sought to bring the Earps to trial, this time making out a charge of murder from the court in Contention. A warrant was signed and Behan rounded up a posse of cowboys to escort the Earps and Holliday there. But the Earps would have none of that. Forming a large group of supporters, the Earps rode up to Contention themselves. In the Contention courthouse, the judge perhaps seeing these two large groups of armed men, prudently transferred the trial back to Tombstone, where it was promptly dismissed.
A little under three months after the cowardly assassination attempt on Virgil had taken place, killers once again skulked in the shadow of Tombstone. On the night of March 17th, the Earps had just spent the evening at the Schieffelin Hall enjoying the show. On their way home, Morgan decided to go play a little pool at Hatch's Billiard Hall and, unpon second consideration, Wyatt joined him. Standing with his back to the door, Morgan was waiting for his turn at the table, while Wyatt was sitting against the wall, watching. Without warning, a flurry of gunshots shattered the door window. Morgan took one in the back, knocking to the floor as two more thudded into the wall just above Wyatt's head. In the dark of the night the killers escaped. Morgan lived about an half hour before breathing his last breath, with his brother's and family around him.
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Wyatt's Cowboy Cleansing
In the aftermath of Morgan's murder, the names of Frank Stilwell, Pete Spence and a half-blood called Indian Charlie aka Florentino Cruz, were tagged as being the assassins. A few days after the murder, the Earps were leaving Tombstone. The brother's wives had already departed for Colton, CA., bound for the Nicolas Earps home. Virgil, his wife and the body of Morgan were to follow. About this time, the youngest Earp, Warren had joined Wyatt in Arizona. The family made there way to Tucson to take the westward train. Escorting them, was Holliday, Sherman McMasters, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Texas Jack Vermillion. Some, like McMasters, had been know outlaws, themselves. But now they were appointed US Deputy Sherrif possemen, under Wyatt.
At the train station in Tucson, whether justified or not, Wyatt initiated his most notorious act in beginning his infamous Ride of Vengeance. Frank Stilwell and allegedly Ike Clanton and Pete Spence, in an obvious attempt to once again ambush the Earps, were themselves ambushed. In the dark of the train station, Wyatt and his band caught Stilwell. If Clanton and Spence had been there, they immediately sought safer parts. Exactly how Stilwell met his death, be it an even chance or brutal murder, is unknown. The fact is, Stilwells bullet riddled body was found the next day by a station attendant. And the Earps were charged with the shooting.
By this time, Wyatt and his posse were en route back to Tombstone. Once there, they gather supplies for the trail. During this time Sherrif Behan receive a telegram from Tucson concerning the Stilwell murder. Backed by a number of his deputies, Behan attempted to prevent Earp from leaving town. Earp flatly refused and stood Bahan down. With all of Behan's forces standing by, the Earp posse rode out of Tombstone, unmolested. And thus ended the Earp Era in Tombstone's history.
But Wyatt was not ready to leave Arizona Territory yet. On a tip, they headed for the Dragoons, where Pete Spence's wood-cutting camp was. There, they tracked down and killed Florentino Cruz as he tried to flee. In obvious abuse of his responsibility as US Deputy Marshall, warrant were made out against Earp and his posse. Behan formed his own posse, made up of many of the people Wyatt, himself was looking for. And so, for many days, a strange cat and mouse game was played, with Earp's posse hunting for cowboys and Behan's posse hunting for Earp.
Back and forth, across Cochise County the posses rode. Everytime Behan's posse came close to catching up to Earp, they stopped and allowed him to escape. At one point, at HC Hooker's, Sierra Bonita Ranch, Behan was told that Earp was waiting for him on a near hill. Behan, showing his true colors, instead headed back to Tombstone.
Wyatt last and most controversial kill happen in the foothills of the Whetstone Mountains. Waylaid as they came into a place called Iron Springs, Wyatt alleged came face to face with Curly Bill Brocius. In a sudden a violent shootout Wyatt cut Curly Bill down with a shotgun before escaping the ambush. At this, it was decided that it was time to leave Arizona for good, and the Earp posse split up and went there own ways. Wyatt was never known to come back to Arizona again.
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In the aftermath of the Vengeance ride, Curly Bill's death was hotly contested. The Epitaph and Nugget both offerred rewards to prove that Brocuis was dead or alive. Legend has it, he was either buried on Pattersons Ranch after Wyatt had killed him, or he rode off back to Texas and took up life as an honest citizen. Whatever happened, Curly Bill was never seen again in Arizona. Ike Clanton managed to dodge Earp bullets during the gunfight and Wyatt's ride of revenge afterwards. But he wasn't able to dodge a bullet given to him by Jonas V. Brighton six years later. Jonnhy Ringo's story came to an end a couple months after Wyatt's Vengeance Ride. Johnny was found propped up against a tree with a bullet in his head. The cause of his death was ruled as suicide, but legend has Wyatt sneaking back into Arizona and killing the last of the Cowboys, himself.
Politically, Johnny Behan's side won over Tombstone in 1882. But his time in public office had been jaded and he soon left Tombstone. John Clum was also out of a job and left around June 1882. He would meet up with Wyatt later in life when both met in yet another boomtown in the Yukon. Virgil Earp, crippled for thei rest of his life, still made a living as a lawman. He died peaceably in 1905 in Goldfield, NV. Wyatt Earp did not settle down until late in life, going from boomtown to boomtown. Except on rare occasion, he never was a lawman after Arizona. Josephine Marcus became his traveling companion and stayed with him for the next forty years as his wife. Wyatt died in bed in 1929, in Los Angeles.
After the inquest, Will returned to Fort Worth (long before Morgan's murder) and continued his law practice. He remarried, and in fine family tradition, raised eight children. He later became a Superior Court judge. When the Oklahoma Territory was opened up to white settlers in 1902, Will moved to Snyder onto a 960 acre farm until his death.
Frank and Tom's father, Robert lived prosperously on his farm in Hazleton, IA until 1893. Almost eight months, to the day, Robert's wife gave birth to his thirteenth child. Of the 6 boys of his first marriage, only William survived his father.1

After the murderous time in Tombstone, things settled down for the family. But as the facts and stories of the old days became yesterdays memories, interest began to pick up. The legend of Frontier Lawman Wyatt Earp grew in strength. And as the century turned, the family had to face this resurgence. As Wyatt derring-dos grew, so did the fiction. Rather than painting the man as a man, he became a larger than life symbol of Truth and Frontier Justice. Likewise, his adversaries sank ever deeper in the bowels of depredation and all that was loathsome in the old days. Frank and Tom became nothing more than shadowy figures slinking behind the craven demon Ike Clanton, waiting to be snuffed out by the light of Wyatt Earp.
In this emerging atmosphere, much of the family tended to distance themselve from the stain that Frank and Tom had spilled. My own family line, Frank and Tom's eldest brother, Ebenezer, went as far as to change the spelling of the last name to McLaurie, in order to avoid the specticle that had come to surround the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Eventually, interest in the facts behind the Tombstone legend began to flower. Unfortunately, many of the historical experts in the field decided that fabricating the truth was still more lucrative than supplying the known truth. Much damage has been done in providing historical fact to this story. Fortunately, especially in the last decade, seekers of the unvarnished truth have begun to come forth to extract the true nuggets from the fools gold. I'm a rank ameteur in this field, but I hope, in a small way, I have provided some aid to the cause. At the least, I pray I have not added to the damage!

The End
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by Clay Parker

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