October 26 - 1881 - The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was actually a small exchange of fire, lasting no more than 30 seconds, and it did not take place at the O.K. Corral, but in an empty lot down the street. Tombstone, Arizona was a town of 7,000 people in 1881, and all of them had arrived in the previous two years. This included the Earp brothers, Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan. The Earps were native Iowans, and Virgil arrived in town as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He would also become the town marshal, and often made his brothers deputies in his battles with the "Cowboys," a gang of outlaws involved in cattle rustling allied with the Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan. Matters came to a head when a Cowboy named Ike Clanton was in court, and the Earps attempted to disarm the Cowboys who had come to Tombstone, following a local ordinance banning weapons in town. In the middle of the afternoon, Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday confronted Billy and Ike Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne. Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury would be shot dead. It would be nearly fifty years before the story of the shootout became Wild West legend, thanks to a book about Wyatt Earp.