EARP CLAN LEFT THEIR MARK IN SAN BERNARDINO VALLEY
The story of the Earp brothers lives on in books, movies, and even a 1950’s television series. The focus has always been on their “lawman” escapades in Tombstone. The truth is, they lived there just a little over two years.
What is not well known is the time that the family spent in the San Bernardino Valley.
After a series of misfortunes in Missouri, Nick and Virginia Earp decided to head back to California in 1877 with their two youngest children, Warren and Adelia. A decade earlier they unsuccessfully tried to maintain a ranch near San Bernardino…unsuccessful because their sons didn’t “give a hoot” about farming.
After first stopping in Temescal, the clan went back to the San Bernardino Valley and found a new home in the sleepy little town of Colton where Nick became justice of the peace.
Meanwhile, the Earp boys spent much of their lives roaming from boomtown to boomtown throughout the west in search of fortune. Sometimes lawmen, sometimes gamblers, town lot speculators, prospectors, and undercover agents—they ventured into almost anything that might turn a profit.
Wyatt and Jim had moved on to the Kansas cow towns of Wichita and Dodge City, where Wyatt worked as an assistant marshal and Jim worked as a bartender. Virgil began working as Deputy U.S. Marshal in Arizona Territory while Morgan was exploring Montana.
Two years later the brothers reunited in the Arizona silver mining town of Tombstone where Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan had their celebrated shootout with the Clantons and the McLaurys.
Following the “Gunfight at the O. K. Corral” there was the murder of Morgan and a nearly fatal ambush of Virgil. After Morgan’s body was returned to his parents’ home in Colton inside a coffin, accompanied by the grievously wounded Virgil and the brothers’ wives, Wyatt headed up a posse which resulted in the retaliated killings of members of the cowboy gang before he and Jim ventured for a while out to the gold rush mining towns in Idaho.
During the next few years, Virgil, despite his permanently damaged left arm, worked as a constable and then was elected as the first city marshal in Colton. Meanwhile, Nick continued serving as justice of the peace in Colton and Jim returned to town working as a “hack driver” in and around San Bernardino before opening up the Club Exchange Saloon with a man named J.H. Anderson.
Warren, Wyatt’s youngest brother, a self-proclaimed “capitalist”, was living at the King House in San Bernardino. In 1893, Warren moved to Arizona. Almost 19 years after the famous street fight in Tombstone, often referred to as the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”, Warren was gunned down in a Willcox, Arizona saloon.
Wyatt, on the other hand, had moved on to such places as Denver, San Diego, and San Francisco, occasionally stopping in the San Bernardino area for extended periods to visit his family, especially with his folks at their home on the corner of Mt. Vernon and “I” Street in Colton.
Wyatt Earp at 38-years-old
NIck and Virginia Ann Earp posing for a photo when celebrating their 50th wedding Anniversary.
San Bernardino, California USA