Earp later recalled that gunmen in Deadwood were as proficient as in any Western community, except possibly Tombstone. He described watching the outcome of an argument that started in the Montana Saloon between Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and two partners. In a two-against-one duel, Turkey Creek faced them off, standing in the road that ran beside the cemetery at the edge of camp. Johnson killed both men and suffered only minor flesh wounds. But Wyatt left his highest praise for his old acquaintance Bill Hickok.
“Bill Hickok was regarded as the deadliest pistol-shot alive, as well as a man of great courage,” Earp said. “There was no man in the Kansas City group who was Wild Bill’s equal with a six-gun.”
Earp returned to his old job as city marshal of Dodge City. Three years later he hired on as a deputy sheriff of Pima County, Arizona. He was later appointed United States Marshal for the Tombstone district of Arizona, and was sometimes assisted by brothers Virgil, Morgan and James. The lawman’s most famous moment occurred at the famed O.K. Corral gunfight. Doc Holliday, Morgan, and Virgil sustained superficial wounds during the famous Tombstone event, while Wyatt walked away without a scratch from the Clanton gang’s firearms.
Controversy and speculation about the legal and illegal activities of Wyatt and his brothers in this event, as well as prior public and personal incidents, prompted all of the family to leave Tombstone shortly afterward. Earp went on to successful ventures in Idaho, Alaska, Nevada, and California in the following years.
After a life of adventure in the West, Wyatt Earp died at his Los Angeles, California home on January 13, 1929. He was survived by his third wife, Josephine (Josie) Marcus Earp. Cowboy actors Tom Mix and William S. Hart were among his pallbearers. Wyatt’s ashes were buried in Josie’s family plot in Colma, California, just south of San Francisco.
Wyatt Earp – Frontier Marshall by Stewart N. Lake Wyatt Earp – The Missing Years by Kenneth R. Cilch and Kenneth R. Cilch, Jr. Wyatt Earp Museum and website – San Diego, CA