Anniversary Post: Gunfight at the OK Corral

Tombstone 1891On this day in 1881, the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurred. It’s famous because it has been mythologized. It didn’t become a thing until Stuart Lake’s 1931 fictional biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. This led directly to a number of films, ultimately, Gunfight at the OK Corral, which solidified the name, even though it didn’t take place at the OK Corral.

It’s also famous because things like that didn’t much happen: a group of guys facing off against each other and just firing. The whole thing took 30 second during which time about 30 shots were fired. I assume it had more to do with panic than anything else. The same thing happens to nervous police officers all the time.

Basically, the whole thing was just a conflict between rival gangs. The Earps might have had the cover of law. But when Morgan Earp was killed, Wyatt took out a personal vendetta when the legal system didn’t provide him with the justice that he considered his. I don’t bring it up because I think that Wyatt Earp was an especially horrible man. It’s just that, as usual, history is written by the winners.

6 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Gunfight at the OK Corral

  1. To me the most interesting thing about it is that you could leave your gun with a bartender at one of the saloons when you came into town pursuant to City Ordinance #9 said you could only wander around with a gun with a permit. So the city fathers said “sure, leave it with the local bartender at one of the dozens of saloons.”

    • I didn’t know that. I did, however, know about these kinds of things at different places in the “wild” west. If we did that today, we’d have armed revolt.

      • I know about it because Tombstone is somewhere you go when you are bored out of your mind and don’t want to drive five hours to go look a giant hole in the ground. And it is the only place I have been to with a store selling decently priced corsets.

        Although I did help with the research a colleague did on the original justice of the peace for the hearing so I learned a few other things that I did not know.

        • Ah! I don’t know if I mentioned going there as a kid. I think that’s why I have such a bad attitude toward it. We used to take these summer trips in the summer in the hot south. I’ve never forgiven Texas for it.

          • I went there as a wee lass. My mom saved for months to afford the trip so for me it is not a situation of loathing because it was hot. It was “my mom made a special effort for my sister and me and I actually got it for once.”

            But then I was used to the heat because dad threw us out when we were kids for the summer.

            • That’s nice. Except the part about your dad. If God wanted us to be outside, he wouldn’t have invented houses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *