The OK corral was a run of the mill gun fight until Wyatt Earp sought fame and fortune in fledgling Hollywood. Until he exaggerated his life deeds to authors and scriptwriters, few knew about the deaths on the dusty streets of Tombstone. Since then, the tawdry affair has become legend.
Behind those legends were the women who loved the Earps and Doc Holliday. Their stories have been sparsely told, serving only as a backdrop to their gun-slinging men, yet the lives of the Earp wives were as vivid, adventurous and dangerous as the deeds of their hubbies.
Wyatt purposely hid three of his wives from history. Josie, his fourth wife, is known to most fans, but Urilla was his first. Wyatt worked hard to hide the facts of their life together. She died amid mystery with Wyatt fleeing town not long after. His third wife, drug addicted Mattie, wasn’t discovered until the mid-20th century. Pimped as a teen by her husband, Wyatt’s second wife Sallie’s existence wasn’t known until this past decade.
Gentle, kind Allie was proficient with guns and horses. She was Virgil’s third wife. His first wife, teenage Ellen grieved his death in the Civil War, leaving for Oregon with her parents without discovering the sad news provided by her parents was false. Second wife Rosillia remains shrouded in secrecy, entering his life quietly and just as quietly disappearing without a trace.
Morgan’s prim Louisa wrote about her fears of the Earp brothers and Jim’s Nellie supported her disabled husband with the proceeds from her brothel.
Although Big Nose Kate wasn’t with an Earp brother, her life with Doc Holliday is integral to the tales surrounding this enigmatic family, so she is included on these pages. The intimate details of their lives have been reconstructed when possible and the missing facts have been contrasted with known facts about their era and the places they lived while plying their trade. Bringing together complex cultural beliefs while contrasting the lives of other women in the West -- Native Americans, Mexicans and white women of the plains -- a picture emerges of the important influences and ambitions that explain the decisions which formed the daring existence of the Earp wives.