Seth Earp was born in 1851 into the Earp family while they were
living in Pella, Iowa. As the years passed, the Earp family moved
several times, and as the boys grew up and left their father's home,
they continued the tradition of moving from place to place. By 1870,
there is every likelihood that Morgan Earp was in Montana Territory
with his brother James. By 1874, the Earp brothers (Morgan, Wyatt,
and James) were in Wichita, Kansas. Morgan then moved to St. Louis,
Missouri and was a bartender there. In 1876, Morgan moved on to
Dodge City and became a deputy marshal under Charlie Bassett replacing
Bat Masterson who had vacated the position to travel to Wyoming
in hopes of finding gold. Shortly thereafter, Morgan's brothers
followed him to Dodge city with Wyatt joining the marshal's office
as a deputy (and dealing faro at the Long Branch Saloon) and James
opening a brothel.
Louisa Houston Earp was born in 1855 in Wisconsin. Sometime after
1870, Louisa left her parent's home and is known to have been in
Iowa, Kansas, and Montana Territory. Exactly when and where Louisa
met Morgan Earp is unknown. But by late 1877, they were in Montana
Territory together. Louisa was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis
since she was in her teens. Her letters indicate that she suffered
a great deal, and she felt that her affliction was taking its toll
on her appearance.
>Morgan was on the police force in Butte, Montana Territory, but
only for a short time. In February of 1880, the couple left Butte
for good and Louisa was taken to stay with Morgan's parents in California.
Louisa would remain there in their care for several months. Her
affliction was a constant source of pain, and her condition deteriorated.
In May of 1880, Morgan went to California to visit his wife and
For comparison purposes, the photo on the left is of Morgan and
Louisa Earp courtesy of The Spell of the West website. The photo
of Morgan and Louisa Earp on the right (oval) is from the Phillips
In July of 1880,
Morgan went to Tombstone, Arizona Territory to meet up with his
brothers and their wives. Tension between the outlaws known as the
Cowboys and the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday grew, and by the
time Louisa joined her husband in Tombstone in December of 1880,
it had grown to a fever pitch.
The shootout at the O.K. Corral took place on October 26, 1881 between
the Earp faction and a handful of the Cowboys, three of whom were
killed that day. Louisa heard the gunshots from a few blocks away.
Morgan Earp was shot across the back, and according to a letter
written by Louisa to a sister, both of Morgan's shoulder blades
had been broken and his spinal column was injured slightly. His
brother Virgil had been shot in the calf and Doc Holliday was grazed
with a bullet. The Earp's and Doc Holliday were ultimately exonerated
in court for the deaths of Cowboys Billy
Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury.
Close to Christmas of 1881, in retaliation for the shootout, Virgil
Earp was ambushed by some Cowboys as he walked down the street in
Tombstone. He took buckshot in his back and side and his left elbow
was nearly obliterated. Morgan Earp was appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal
under Wyatt because Virgil was so seriously wounded.
Tension in Tombstone continued to mount. In February of 1882, Morgan
sent Louisa back to Colton, CA to live with his parents due to the
threat of more retaliation. Therefore, Louisa was not in Tombstone
when on the evening of March 18, 1882, Morgan Earp was shot to death.
Morgan Earp had spent that evening at a musical at Schieffelin Hall.
Then he played pool at the Campbell & Hatch Billiard Parlor against
the owner, Bob Hatch. Dan Tipton, Sherman McMaster, and his brother
Wyatt watched the game. The assassin, no doubt one of the Cowboys,
shot through a window striking Morgan in the back. One of the bullets
entered the thigh of mining foreman George A.G. Berry. Another bullet
lodged in the wall over Wyatt's head. When Morgan collapsed, he
was moved to the floor, and he died a short time later. Morgan's
body was dressed in a suit belonging to Doc Holliday. The next day
Morgan's body was taken to the train station and James Earp accompanied
his brother's body to Colton, California where Morgan was subsequently
buried. Wyatt Earp gathered a posse consisting of family and friends
and went on the so-called Vendetta Ride, killing Cowboys in revenge
for the death of his beloved brother.
The photo of Morgan Earp on the left is from the Phillips
Collection. For comparison purposes, the photo in the middle
is courtesy of Wikipedia. The photo on the right is also from the
| Morgan has been
described as the most likeable of the Earp brothers, and I have become
convinced that it might be very true. It has been 133 years since
his death, but these photos captured life. When I look into those
expressive eyes, I see a man who might have had a great sense of humor,
might have been quick to laugh and appreciated wit, and a man who
might have had an ornery streak. When I look into that face, I see
a thoughtful man who would have shunned the spotlight, and I see a
man of honor.
http://www.jcs-group.com/oldwest/tombstone/morgan.html, The Spell
of the West, August 26, 2015
Mrs. Earp, The Wives and Lovers of the Earp Brothers by Sherry Monahan,
Twodot, Guilford, Connecticut, 2013.
Morgan Earp. (2015, August 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 15:46, August 26, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Morgan_Earp&oldid=674736650