Wild west legend Wyatt Earp was known as a lawman and an outlaw. After emerging unscathed from the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral in Arizona’s Tombstone Territory, where he was a lawman, he became an outlaw when he later shot and killed his brother’s assassin.
A great blog post in Discover Nevada tells the tale of the Earp brothers and their search for riches in the turn of the century Nevada.
After the gunfight, Wyatt and brother Virgil set out to find their fortunes as prospectors, and for a time Wyatt found himself in Tonopah. Though only two years after the original strike in 1900, Wyatt was too late to get rich from silver. So he opened a saloon, and served for a time as a private policeman protecting mining companies from claim jumpers. It is said that the mere mention of his name, or showing his face, was enough to discourage the toughest scoundrel from malfeasance.
But the restless Wyatt moved on to other Nevada towns, and finally settled in Los Angeles, California. Virgil, meanwhile, failed to find his fortune in Goldfield, but became the sheriff of Esmeralda County. He died of pneumonia there in 1905.
The Earp brothers were legends in their own time, but that and a silver dollar will buy you a bottle of rotgut whiskey. History shows the famous brothers still had to eek out a living the best way they could. Even living legends, it turns out, still have to eat.
Here are some scenes from the Hollywood versions of the Wyatt Earp story:
TV Show: the Life and Times of Wyatt Earp
Deadwood: Fact vs. Fiction on the HBO Series
Scene from Gunfight at the OK Corral