O. K. Corral
The O.K. Corral is home to the famous "Wild West Shootout" involving Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday against the McLaurys and Clantons. Virgil Earp, the marshall of Tombstone, arrested Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury. They were disarmed and released only later to be accompanied by Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury. Over 30 shots were fired in the gunfight that resulted in the deaths of Billy, Tom, and Frank. The Earps and Doc Holliday were arrested and were later found to be not guilty by a judge related to the Earps.
Backstory and Context
The O.K. Corral is the world’s most famous gunfight site. Here guests can actually walk on the grounds where Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Virgil and Morgan Earp fought on in October 26th, 1881. Currently Tombstone is a country-western tourist destination. There is a bar that still has bullets in the walls from the gunfight, as well as the actual O.K. Corral. Guests get the opportunity to stand right beside life-sized figures of all eight of the men that fought in the gunfight located on the very spot where the gunfight began according to a map on display drawn by Wyatt Earp himself.
The gunfight was not well known at all by the public until 1931. It became known by the author Stuart Lake by publishing a fictionalized biography. This was published during the Great Depression and really grabbed the attention of the American Imaginations. O.K. Corral says “Despite its name, the historic gunfight did not take place within or next to the O.K. Corral, but in a narrow lot next to Fly's Photographic Studio, six doors west of the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral on Fremont Street” (Gunfight at O.K. Corral).
Many of the acts leasing up to the gunfight are uncertain. Newspapers of the day were all about taking sides. John Clum wad the publisher of the Tombstone Epitaph and had helped organize the “Committee of Safety.” John was later elected as the city’s first mayor under the new city charter of 1881. John and his newspaper would often side with the local business owners and support Marshal Virgil Earp. O.K. Corral says “According to the Earp version of events, the fight was in self-defense because the Cowboys, armed in violation of local ordinance, aggressively threatened the lawmen, defying a lawful order to hand over their weapons. The Cowboys maintained that they raised their hands, offering no resistance, and were shot in cold blood by the Earps. Sorting out who was telling the truth then and now remains difficult ((Gunfight at O.K. Corral).
The conflicts leading up to the fight were personal and complex. Each side of the fight has extremely strong family ties. James, Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan, and Warren Earp were all brothers and had worked together as pimps, lawman, and saloon owners in a few different Western towns.