Haunted facts make for good fiction!

Think Tombstone, AZ. Think Wyatt Earp. Think, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Historical fact attests to Wyatt Earp’s presence in Tombstone. Historical fact attests to the occurrence of the famous gunfight, at 3:00 in the afternoon. Historical fact speaks to the image featured with this post, of the black Moriah hearse that carried those killed at the gunfight to Boot Hill, then Tombstone Cemetery.

Historical fact further indicates two factions fought at the O.K. Corral, those on Earp’s side and those on the Cowboy’s side. Earp’s side included Wyatt, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday. Those in the Cowboy faction included Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton, Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, and Wes Fuller.

The first marshal of Tombstone was Fred White, shot accidently by Curly Bill Brocius October 28, 1880. Marshal White died two days after his injury. The shooting occurred in front of what is now the Bird Cage Theatre, built one year later. The Bird Cage Theatre offered up entertainment, gambling, drinking, and a fourteen-crib brothel, suspended above the main floor. It was not only the wildest place in Tombstone, but arguably, in the West!

Boot Hill contains upwards of 250 graves and is named accordingly, since those buried, “died with their boots on. ” Besides those in the famous gunfight interred there, Marshal White and Billy Brocius are counted among the dead. History reports prospectors, outlaws, lawmen, and prostitutes fill out the many gravesites, with most activity between 1878 and 1884.

It is noteworthy to mention some of the structures comprising Tombstone in Wyatt Earp’s day, for an historical accounting. These structures include Nellie Cashman’s Restaurant, Buford House, Schieffelin Hall, Big Kate’s Saloon, Tombstone Hotel, the Wells Fargo Bank Building, and the Crystal Palace Saloon.

Think Tombstone, AZ. Think Wyatt Earp. Think, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Haunted facts attest to the real possibility, the Earp’s and the Clanton’s relive that famous thirty seconds in their noted lives, in the same place, at the same time or perhaps in a different time. Witnesses see and hear things and report their experiences; not just at the O.K. Corral but while touring Boot Hill or the Bird Cage Theatre. Whether it’s apparitions of men dressed in clothing of the day; or cowboys drawing their guns; or a woman in white stalking behind; or Virgil Earp never crossing to the other side of the street where he took a bullet in the arm; or the smell of smoke and burning materials when there’s no fire (40 men died in fires in Tombstone’s saloons and brothels); or unexplained sounds of card shuffling, singing, laughter, music, glasses clinking; or Wyatt Earp’s hat falling from the same crib at the Bird Cage, every day for six months . . . strange happenings continue to be reported all over historic Tombstone.

Twenty-six people, alone, are reported to have met their death in the Bird Cage Theatre. Likely, the number is higher. Not hard to believe, with 140 bullet holes left today. Witnesses go as far back as 1921 when students at the school across from the Bird Cage reported strange happenings–what they saw and what they heard.

Ghosts are a part of the Old West, as much as their Ghost Towns, left behind. To believe otherwise is foolhardy, in this author’s mind.

Until next time, Joanne



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