Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929) was an American peace officer in various Western frontier towns, farmer, teamster, buffalo hunter, gambler, saloon-keeper, miner and boxing referee. He is best known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, along with Doc Holliday, and two of his brothers, Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp. He is also noted for the Earp Vendetta. Wyatt Earp has become an iconic figure in American folk history. He is the major subject of various movies, TV shows, biographies and works of fiction.
Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, Illinois, on March 19, 1848, to widower Nicholas Porter Earp and Virginia Ann Cooksey (who were wed on July 30, 1840, in Hartford, Kentucky). From his father's first marriage, Wyatt had an elder half-brother, Newton, and a half-sister Mariah Ann, who died at the age of ten months. Wyatt was named after his father's commanding officer in the Mexican–American War, Captain Wyatt Berry Stapp, of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers. In March 1849, the Earps left Monmouth for California but settled in Iowa. Their new farm consisted of 160 acres, seven miles (11 km) northeast of Pella, Iowa.
On March 4, 1856, Nicholas sold his farm and returned to Monmouth, Illinois, but was unable to find work as a cooper or farmer. Faced with the possibility of being unable to provide for his family, Nicholas decided to run for, and was elected, municipal constable, serving at this post for about three years. He also earned income by selling alcoholic beverages, which made him the target of the local temperance movement. Tried in 1859 for bootlegging, he was convicted and publicly humiliated. Nicholas was unable to pay his court-imposed fines; on November 11, 1859, the Earp family's property was sold at auction. Two days later, the Earps left again for Pella, Iowa. After their move, Nicholas returned often to Monmouth, throughout 1860, to sell his properties and to face several lawsuits for debt and accusations of tax evasion.
During the family's second stay in Pella, the American Civil War began. Newton, James, and Virgil joined the Union Army on November 11, 1861. Although, at thirteen, Wyatt was too young, he later tried on several occasions to run away and join the army, only to have his father find him and bring him home. While Nicholas was busy recruiting and drilling local companies, Wyatt—with the help of his two younger brothers, Morgan and Warren—was left in charge of tending an crop of corn. After being severely wounded in Fredericktown, Missouri, James returned home, in the summer of 1863. Newton and Virgil fought several battles in the east and later returned.
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