Wyatt Earp (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Earp, a lawman in the early cowtowns of the Old West, established a reputation that made him an American legend. To some, he epitomized revenge; to others, he was an American hero.
Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, named after his father’s company commander during the Mexican-American War, was born in 1848, the third son to Nicholas and Virginia Earp. As an early settler of Monmouth, Illinois (1843), Nicholas provided law and order in the community. His father’s principles would impact Earp throughout the rest of his life. Nicholas, a restless farmer, saw the opportunity of abundant farmland in Pella, Iowa. In 1850, he moved his wife, his daughter Martha, and his four sons, Newton (Nicholas’s son from a previous marriage), James, Virgil, and Wyatt (age two). Newton, James, and Virgil fought for the Union during the Civil War. In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, the Earp family, which now included three more children (Morgan, Warren, and Adelia), moved again, this time to San Bernardino, California, where lush fields and prospering cities promised wealth.
On the wagon train traveling westward to California, Earp learned to handle a gun, shoot, hunt, scout, and, most important, stay cool in pressure situations. All of these skills would aid Earp in his brief but famous career as a frontier marshal. However, at the young age of sixteen, Earp was still very uncertain as to what he...
(The entire section is 1801 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!