July 7

This Day in History

Old West

Jul 7, 1900:

Warren Earp killed in Arizona

Warren Earp, the youngest of the famous clan of gun fighting brothers, is murdered in an Arizona saloon.

Nicholas and Virginia Earp raised a family of five sons and four daughters on a series of farms in Illinois and Iowa. Three of the Earps' sons grew up to win lasting infamy. On October 26, 1881, Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp fought a brief shoot-out with the Clantons and McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. The Earp brothers, along with their friend Doc Holliday, managed to kill all three of their opponents. The gun battle—which was named after a nearby livery stable called the O.K. Corral—later became a favorite topic of sensationalistic dime novel writers and moviemakers. Ever since, Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan have been icons of the Old West.

The youngest Earp brother, however, did not share in the fame of his older brothers. Warren Earp was probably in Tombstone on the day of the famous gunfight, but for reasons that remain unclear, Warren did not join in the gunfight (the eldest Earp brother, James, did not participate either). Warren, however, was involved in the bloody series of revenge killings that followed the shoot-out.

Within six months of the first gunfight, Morgan Earp was assassinated and Virgil Earp was badly wounded. Wyatt presumed the Clantons and McLaurys were behind the attacks. Determined to strike back, Wyatt turned for help to his little brother, Warren. Together with Doc Holliday, the two brothers took their vengeance, killing two men suspected of having been behind Morgan's murderer. In danger now of being arrested for murder, the three men fled to Colorado.

After he parted ways with Wyatt in Colorado, the record of Warren's life becomes obscure. He apparently traveled around the West for several years before finally returning to Arizona. On this day in 1900, Warren reportedly had too much to drink at the Headquarters Saloon in Willcox, Arizona. He began to abuse some of the customers, and a man named John Boyett killed him in a gunfight. Later, Boyett was tried for murder and found innocent on the grounds that he had acted in self-defense.

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