Virgil Earp
    Virgil Walter Earp was born in 1843 in Kentucky. He was the second oldest of the brothers. When Virgil was only 18 years old he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. His older brother James had also been enlisted but was sent home with injury. For some time, Virgil was incorrectly reported dead.
 
Virgil Earp   In 1865 Virgil was discharged from the military and traveled home. He decided to move out to California to meet with the rest of the Earp family. He worked many jobs including railroad construction, a stagecoach driver, a sawmill sawyer, a mailman and a prospector. However he his also well known for his life spent in law enforcement.
  Virgil also spent some time in Kansas with brother Wyatt but from Dodge City Kansas he moved to Prescott in the Arizona Territory, and in 1877 when he was deputized, so began his law days in Arizona. In 1879 Virgil was appointed Deputy U.S. Marshall for the Arizona Territory. Later that year he traveled from Prescott to live in Tombstone with Wyatt. Originally is was supposed to represent federal law but in 1880 when Virgil became acting town marshall of Tombstone. This happened because the previous Marshall, Fred White was shot and killed (later termed accidentally) by "Curly Bill" Brocious. Virgil was not present when White was shot but his brothers Wyatt and Morgan Earp took part in his arrest. Later it was reported that brother Wyatt "pistol whipped" Brocious which led to more animosity than was already present. Brocious was part of one of the Old West's largest organized crime groups, the "Cowboys" and much tension was built up between the two sides.

    As town marshall it was Virgil's job to enforce the law, including the one that stated that no weapons can be carried in town. When the McLaury brothers, the Clanton brothers, and Billy Claiborne were suspected of having weapons in town on October 26, 1881, it was Virgil's job to have the weapons taken away. His brothers Morgan (a deputy) and Wyatt and "Doc" Holliday (deputized citizens) accompanied him and the result was the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
    The 30 second fight at the O.K. Corral left three men dead. Before anything began Virgil is reported to have said, "Alright, hands up!" After this all the men who had guns drew them. In an attempt to stop this, Virgil next shouted, "Hold! I don't mean that!", but it was too late and the clicking of hammers was already happening. After this two shots started the entire gunfight, and it is still not known who shot first. Virgil left with a gunshot wound in the leg, but did not die at the fight. Virgil was the most experienced man in the fight as he had been in life or death situations before. His time in the army and previous work as a lawman had him prepared for the situation that took place that day.  For three days following the showdown Virgil was suspended from marshall but later all investigations were dropped and Virgil was cleared.
    In December of 1881, just months after the O.K. Corral gunfight, Virgil was ambushed on Allen Street in Tombstone as he was walking to his hotel room. He was staying at the Cosmopolitan Hotel for protections due to threats he received. The attackers were never caught or identified but are assumed to be associated with those who were killed in the O.K. Corral shootout. Ike Clanton's hat was found in the street but he was given an alibi that was not contested. As much as twenty shots busted through the Crystal Palace Saloon and Eagle Brewery behind Virgil, and though many bullets missed Virgil was hit in the back and his left arm. The shots that hit Virgil crippled him permanently in his left arm. Initially it was thought the wounds would be fatal, but that was proved wrong as Virgil survived.
    In March of 1882, Morgan was killed in another ambush, again assumed to be a revenge murder for the murders that took place at the O.K.
Virgil's tombstone Corral. In order for protection Virgil and his family left to stay with the rest of the Earps in Colton, California. Morgon's body would also be sent there for burial. While Virgil boarded the train there was another ambush planned. Virgil's wife carried Virgil's gun so he could grab it if needed but Wyatt, "Doc" Holliday and other men stood as Virgil boarded to act as further protection. Frank Stilwell was killed that night at the train station. The Earps claim Stilwell was going to kill Virgil, while Ike Clanton who was with Stilwell, claimed Stilwell believed they were coming to kill him. Why Stillwell would meet them at the train station was never explained by Ike.
    In California, despite only being able to use one arm, Virgil was successful in being a railroad guard. Virgil also opened a private detective agency that was abandoned after two years. He then was elected constable and later Colton city's first marshall.
    In 1893 he moved to the short-lived mining town, Vanderbilt in California and operated a successful saloon and meeting hall, Earp Hall. He
lived in Colorado and Prescott later in life, but in 1904 returned to Colton, California. However, after being unable to open a saloon he moved to Goldfield, Nevada and became deputy sheriff. Sadly, Virgil died in 1905 after six months of pneumonia. His remains were sent to Portland, Oregon were a daughter lived and requested he be buried.



Home
Founding of Tombstone
Boomtown
Famous Historical Figures in the O.K. Corral Shooting
Shoot Out at the O.K. Corral
After the Shoot Out
Tombstone Today