Daily Dirt: Did you know Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth and had first gunfight in Beardstown?

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Wyatt Earp | Photo courtesy of True West Magazine

Daily Dirt for Friday, March 29, 2024

Be honest. Did you know he had this strong of tie to our territory? Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 905 of The Daily Dirt.

1. This month marks the birthday of one of the most famous Illinoisans who, I think, has been somewhat forgotten over the years.

Famed sheriff Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, just 100 miles from Quincy. Earp was a true legend of the Old West. He earned strong reputations as both a gambler and lawman (mostly the latter) in such iconic stops as Dodge City, Deadwood and Tombstone. He rubbed shoulders with and called Doc Holliday a friend.

Earp is probably celebrated most for his role in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral against badman Ike Clanton and his henchmen. Many Hollywood stars have portrayed Earp in film and on TV — Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, James Garner and Hugh O’Brian.

Here’s a few items about Earp, however, that rarely (if ever) come to light:

  • He operated at times as what we would refer to as a “pimp” these days, once overseeing a local brothel in Wichita in the mid-1870s. He was also involved in prostitution during his years in Peoria, Ill., in the early 1870s.
  • He was never wounded in all the gun battles he was involved in over the years.
  • He once refereed a world heavyweight championship boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey that he may have (wink, wink) had a hand in fixing.
  • When he was 21, he spent the summer working in Beardstown, where he was involved in his first gunfight that saw him wound one of the town bullies.

This is only a mild glimpse into one of the nation’s most colorful characters, who got his start just up the road from Quincy. If you have a few spare hours some evening, I would suggest digging into the life and times of Mr. Earp. It’s all quite fascinating.

Earp died in January 1929 in Los Angeles. He was 80.

2. Twas a relatively uneventful week in the Great Plate Debate, our ongoing search for the most clever license plates in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.

The best that we found or were submitted over the past week include:

  • RUN R 3
  • OCEAN 76
  • NUT 4
  • TRUCKY
  • NANNY 38
  • ONE IN 92
  • LO LADY 1

The year’s leaders so far in our third annual contest:

  • Gold medal: US-MALE. 
  • Silver medal: AUZZIE.
  • Bronze medal: DA LIFE. 

3. This week’s of “Found on Facebook”:

  • “Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make and decisions.”
  • “After hearing the details of the Shohei Ohtani controversy, Pete Rose announced today he also has fired his interpreter.”
  • “Tim Lincecum is one of two MLB pitchers to win multiple world championships, two Cy Young Awards, throw multiple no-hitters and be elected to multiple All-Star Games. The other is Sandy Koufax.”
  • “At the rate we’re going, they’re going to cancel shampoo so bald people don’t get offended.”
  • “Kentucky is getting McDonald’s All-Americans. The teams the Wildcats are losing to in the NCAA are getting guys that EAT at McDonald’s.” (Someone had their NCAA bracket busted.)

Steve Thought O’ The Day
Of all the actors who have portrayed Wyatt Earp, I think my favorite remains Hugh O’Brian (“The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp,” 1955-61, 229 episodes, NBC), although the squeaky-clean image he created seems to be a major stretch of the truth that engulfed the life of one of the country’s most famous lawmen. 

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Did you know he had a relative, Stagecoach Steve (shown at left), who ran with Wyatt Earp? Stagecoach Steve was in charge of snacks after all of the gunfights.

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