Wyatt Earp's Whereabouts.
About 1920, Wyatt Earp enlisted John Flood to write his life story. Flood's manuscript was never published, but it does provide the first clue that the Earp party stopped in Albuquerque on their way out of Arizona:
One afternoon in the month of May, along toward its declining days, several deputies stepped down from a passenger train as it drew into the station at Trinidad, Colorado. Two weeks before, they had disposed of their animals at Silver City, New Mexico, at the end of a three day's trail. Then the stage to Deming, and on to Albuquerque by train. At Albuquerque, Earp visited a friend. Ten days were sufficient there, and then the seven went on to Colorado.
Flood did not undertake newspaper researching, so he could only have gotten this information from Earp himself. His description of the events establishes a timeline that we can test against other sources, including newspaper accounts.
Hornung and Roberts point out that Stuart N. Lake, whose Frontier Marshal was the first published account of Wyatt Earp's life, made mention in his notes that the Earp party was met at the big-two story railroad station in Albuquerque by Frank McLain, a employee of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, who gave Earp $2,000.
Contemporary newspaper evidence of the Earp's sojourn is sparse. On March 28, 1882, the Albuquerque Morning Journal reported:
Last night, at a late hour, a JOURNAL reporter learned that the famous Earp boys were headed for Albuquerque, and that they were on the Atlantic express which arrives in this city this morning at 6:18. In the party there are two of the Earps and five of their confederates. These men have made for themselves a name in southern Arizona which has become a terror to the entire country. They are now pursued by the sheriff and a posse, who are desirous of capturing them for the murder of Stilwell, at Tucson, last week. There is a general feud in and about Tombstone between the Earp boys and the cow boys. Virgil Earp was at the time city marshal of Tombstone, and he, with two of his brothers and Doc Holliday, shot and killed the cow boys last October. Since that time there has been a continuous war between the two factions. One of the Earps has since been killed, and Virgil has been wounded and is now at his home in San Bernardino. The rest of the party are outlaws, and fugitives from justice. It is not likely that they will remain in this city, if they stop at all, as they are too shrewd to stay in this locality. Should anyone attempt to arrest them there will be life taken, as they are, without doubt the most desperate men now at large.
Although the details of their flight are mostly correct, the Journal apparently
The two Albuquerque newspapers printed no more news about the
There was no more news about the Earps until May 13, when the Albuquerque Evening Review made the following announcement:
DOWNED AT LAST
Wyatt Earp Killed Near Hooker's, Arizona
On the fifteenth of last month a party arrived in Albuquerque on the Atlantic & Pacific whose appearance in the city speedily became known among the rounders and talked about. They were men of whose deeds the whole of Arizona was ringing, the Earp boys, as they were all together spoken of. During the month before they had been hardly a day during which a cocked revolver had not been leveled at some one, seven dead cowboys bearing witness to the accuracy of their aim. The whole story of the fights between them and their enemies is too well-known to require a repetition here. They had fought well and bitterly, taking two lives for each one they lost, until the law grasped them, and indictment after indictment began to be found against them. Then they left Arizona and came to Albuquerque. The party as they came here was composed of Wyatt Earp, Warren Earp, "Doc" or John Holliday, Sherman McMaster's, James Johnson, John Tipton, and Jack Vermillion seven, in all.
On the morning after their arrival, and before more than one or two knew of their presence, Wyatt Earp called at the REVIEW and Journal offices, and had an interview with the reporters of both papers. He stated that they had come to Albuquerque to escape persecution while awaiting the result of an effort being made by Governor Tritle to secure their pardon from the president; that they were then being sought for by their foes, and that they would not give themselves up to the Arizona officers without resistance. In view of these facts, Earp requested of both papers that their temporary sojourn in Albuquerque should remain unnoticed until they could be assured that the knowledge of their whereabouts would not bring a party of cow-boy avengers down upon them. To back his assertions regarding Governor Tritle's feeling toward them, Earp presented THE REVIEW several convincing documents, and his request was accordingly granted by this paper, as it was by the Journal.
The party remained in Albuquerque for a week or more, their identity being well known to fifty people or more, leaving the city nearly two weeks ago. During their stay here "Doc" Holliday and Wyatt Earp quarreled, and when Albuquerque was left the party disbanded, Holliday going with Tipton.
Notwithstanding the fact that the newspapers did not speak of their arrival here, it became known in Arizona, and Tombstone supplied a party of man-hunters, who, it appears from Arizona papers received this morning at last found their prey. The Epitaph gives an account of the killing of Wyatt Earp near Hooker's, Arizona, last Monday, by a party which ambushed and attacked him while the Citizen indorses the news, adding the statement that Tipton was killed last week while with Doc Holliday. No particulars are published of the killing as both papers received their information through private sources. Wyatt met his death while returning from a visit to his wounded brother, at Colton, California who had but the week before assured a citizen of Tombstone that all of them would, as soon as he was well, return to Arizona and stand trial on the charges preferred against them.
The party, while in Albuquerque, deported themselves very sensibly, performing no acts of rowdyism, and this way gained not a few friends for their side of the fight. It appears that in Tombstone a general feeling of regret that instead of these last two murders the party were not tried fairly in open court prevails.
The Earp boys, two of whom it is thought have exchanged the compliments of the season with Frank Stillwell, were singular types of desperadoes, if they were desperadoes. Removed from the scene of their conflicts with enemies, they became no more rioters than the frontiersman in general, and from their deportment those unacquainted with them would have taken them quicker for hard-working miners than for the men the result of whose work called out a proclamation from the president. Your true fighting man talks very little of his exploits.
(This transcript was provided by Mark Dworkin, from Wyatt Earp Speaks!, edited by John Richard Stephens, Fern Canyon Press, 1998, p. 153-57. The newspaper microfilm available to us was illegible.)
The next morning the Journal adamantly denied it had ever met with the Earps, leaving no new additional clues. One wonders how long it was before the Review got the news that Wyatt Earp was still alive, but in any case it did not bother to correct itself.
The Review article, written about one month after the fact, gives the only solid date (April 15) for the Earps' arrival in town and adds that they stayed "a week ore more," nearly matching Flood's description that "ten days were sufficient." The Review then muddies the water a bit by stating that the party left "nearly two weeks" ago (April 30 or so), but given that Earp writers such as Casey Tefertiller believe that Wyatt Earp had already made his way to Gunnison, Colorado, by end of April, a departure date of April 25 seems more likely.