Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Three (?) Degrees of Wyatt Earp, Revisited

Here I wrote of my two degrees of separation from John Wayne, and added in an update that a young, not yet famous Duke had made the acquaintance of Wyatt Earp in the 1920s.

This morning I happened on the story of a modern-day Wyatt Earp, descended from one of the original's brothers, who was starring, as of 2011, in a one-man play about the Wild West legend. Curious, I resorted to Google and Wikipedia, and found that the only Wyatt Earp brother known (according to Wikipedia, for what that's worth) to have had sons was his older half-brother Newton, who died in Sacramento (my boyhood hometown, as noted in "Who Needs Bacon?") in 1928.

Newton Earp is buried in the East Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery on Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento.

I grew up in a house from which I could look out my bedroom window and see the mausoleum at this cemetery.

I'm not sure how this affects my degrees of separation from Wyatt, since Newton died before either of my parents had ever heard of Sacramento. I certainly never saw the grave as I never went into the cemetery myself.

Now, it's possible Virgil, James or Warren Earp might have had sons that Wikipedia neglected to mention, so that particular question remains unanswered. However Newton did name his two sons after brothers Wyatt and Virgil, which names might have been handed down to subsequent descendants.

I could email the guy and ask, but it doesn't seem like a good reason to bother him.

Update: Holy carp. Newton's son Virgil* is buried in the other cemetery I lived near in Sacramento, before we moved the other place near East Lawn. I don't recall ever entering that cemetery either.

 * (Link goes to a Youtube video of Virgil's 1958 appearance on "The $64,000 Question.")

'Nother update: Just remembered something else. As many of you may already know, Sam Elliott -- who played Sacramento Virgil's uncle Virgil in Tombstone -- was born in Sacramento.

This is getting spooky.

'Nother other update: Wyatt Earp played cards at least once with Soapy Smith, who was born and raised somewhere not far at all from where I am sitting right now. Of course, Wyatt's best friend Doc Holliday was born in slightly less nearby Griffin.

Though I lived in Alaska, I never got to either Nome (where Wyatt had a saloon) or Skagway (where Soapy ran a gang).

'Nother other other update: According to Ancestry.com, Newton's son Wyatt had a son named Frederick Wayne Earp, who lived in Sacramento for close to 50 years until his death in 1978 at the relatively young age of 59 -- when I was 16. I have yet to find reference to any children, but they could still be living. Fred's uncle Virgil doesn't seem to have any sons recorded in Ancestry.

This is getting out of hand update: Tracked down the cemetery in Woodland, California, where the famous Wyatt Earp's nephew Wyatt is buried. During my college years I had friends in Woodland who lived mere blocks from this cemetery. I visited them, but (again) never the cemetery.

Incidentally, while Ancestry has this Wyatt dying in Utah, as Find-a-Grave agrees, it also claims he died there in 1920 rather than the 1937 shown on his marker. Now, Ancestry also claims Wyatt II's wife died in 1920, so I suspect there was a data input error at some point on Ancestry for Wyatt.

It boggles my mind how I grew up so surrounded by Earps and didn't know it. I wasn't even all that interested in the Earp legend back then, really. If I had, I suppose I would have wondered why all these Earps were to be found in Sacramento, of all places.

 Make it stop! update: Have just found that one of Virgil II's homes (c. 1943) was one block over from where my father worked during the 1960s.

 Sacramento wasn't that small of a town, even back then!

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