My Cousin Wyatt Earp

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By Reba Young

Jonathan Douglas Earp was the younger brother of Wyatt's father, Nicholas Porter Earp. Jonathan was the great-grandfather of Reba Young. She had done extensive research on the Earp family, tracing the line back to the fifteenth century in England. Many were teachers, preachers, and lawyers. Six Earps fought in the Revolutionary War, and many helped in the opening of the West.
Wyatt Earp had many enemies among the early writers. Many untruths were written about him. Stuart Lake, who wrote Frontier Marshall, was one whose work was highly imaginative, not based on facts. One writer who can be relied on is Glenn Boyer.
Born in Monmouth, Illinois, March 19, 1848, Wyatt was the son of Virginia Cooksey Earp and Nicholas Porter Earp. He had four brothers, Jim, Virgil, Morgan, and Warren, and one sister, Adelia. Nick Earp had "itchy feet" and moved often. When Wyatt was two, the family moved to Pella, Iowa. (The home there is now a museum as is the one in Monmouth.) The family later returned to the Monmouth area at the time of the Civil War. Nick Earp and his older sons fought in the Civil War. Wyatt was left to care for his mother and the rest of the family. It was at this time that he was given his first gun, an old muzzle loader, to use for hunting.
In January 1869 Wyatt's family moved to Barton County, Missouri. That same year the trustees of Lamar chose Wyatt to be the first constable. He was 21 years old. He met Eurilla Sutherland, whose parents owned the Exchange Hotel in Lamar. Soon the young couple were married at the hotel by Wyatt's father, who was a justice of the peace. Unfortunately, Eurilla died before they had been married a year. Her grave is in the southeast corner of Howell Cemetery, Barton County, Missouri. Soon after her death, Wyatt and a friend stole two horses and left Lamar.
In 1873 Wyatt was a police officer in Ellsworth, Kansas. Next he was a deputy marshal in Dodge City, Kansas, where he was also a church deacon. Here he married his second wife, Celia Blalock. From Dodge City he went to Tombstone, Arizona, intending to start a stage line. However, there were several lines there, so he joined the police force instead.
Josie, the sheriff's Jewish wife, fell in love with Wyatt. Celia Earp committed suicide, and later Josie and Wyatt were married. They remained together until his death.
The "Fight at the O.K. Corral" actually took place 90 feet west of the corral. The Earps fought the McLaurys and Clantons, who were cattle rustlers. Not an Earp was killed. Later three men shot Virgil in the arm and three months later killed Morgan. Wyatt was given a warrant to kill all three, which he did. The Earps eventually cleared Arizona and the surrounding states of cattle rustlers, but it took eight years.
Wyatt was six feet tall, handsome, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He did not smoke and rarely drank. He was a life-long Republican. He regretted his lack of education. He loved the theater and especially enjoyed Shakespeare.
He served as a body guard for Senator George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst. He rode shotgun for Wells-Fargo Express. There was never a holdup while he was on duty. He owned race horses and gambling houses. He also prospected for gold and refereed the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey fight.
On January 13, 1929 he died at the age of 81. His home was then in Los Angeles, California. William S. Hart and Tim Mix were two of his pall bearers. He was buried in Colma, California in a Jewish cemetery. He said, "After I'm gone, I hope I get the peaceful obscurity I have not been able to get in life."

Presented to the Barton County Historical Society at the October 14, 1990 meeting.

Liberal, Missouri was founded on October 26, 1880 by George Walser. He bought land to develop a settlement for "freethinkers." Advertisements for this new town stated that there would be "no priest, preachers, saloon, God, or Hell."

George Walser was born in Dearbon County, Indiana on May 26, 1834. He became a lawyer in Illinois and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war he "went west" and settled in Barton County, Missouri. He practiced law in Lamar, was a superintendent of schools there, and also served in the Missouri state legislature from 1868 to 1872. He died at his home in Catalpa Park (in the Liberal area) on May 1, 1910 and was buried at the Lake Cemetery in Lamar.

The young town of Liberal began to be famous or notorious for its claim to be a settlement for "freethinkers." But one man H.H. Waggoner made an addition to the town for Christians. One night Walser and some friends made a barbed wire fence between the town and this new addition to "keep the Christians out." This brought national attention.

One of the earliest businesses in Liberal was the Kansas City-Ft. Scott-Memphis Railroad which was finished in 1881. It was later to become the Frisco Railroad. (The Frisco Depot has been preserved as a landmark and has been moved to the park.) The Missouri Pacific Railroad built a line through Liberal in 1885. (The Missouri Pacific Depot no longer exists.)

Coal mining was a large business during these early years and a large sandstone quarry was also in operation. The first business in the town was a hotel (location unknown at this time) and soon followed was the first bank, the Bank of Liberal, in 1888. The first car came to Liberal in 1912. The Brick and Tile Plant made bricks, the Ozark and Liberal Hotels boarded people riding from here to there on the trains, and the earliest newspaper was the Liberal Enterprise. It was in existence from 1892 to 1910 and then sold to become The Liberal News.

The year of 1897 brought a fire that destroyed part of Main Street in Liberal on the day of November 4. Nine businesses were destroyed on the west side of the street; but in just a few years all the businesses were rebuilt. In January of 1934 the east side of Main was destroyed by a fire. This time not all of the businesses burned out were rebuilt.

The general store in Liberal was owned and operated by J.H. Todd who also was an acquaintance of the founder George Walser and gave the address at Walser's funeral. Another noted individual in the early years of Liberal was Henry Dorman who lived to be 115 years old. He was born during the years that George Washington was still living. Captain J.G. Mayer was a Civil War veteran and there is still an addition to the town named after him. Bob Harmon was the adopted son of O.E. Harmon (who wrote "The Story of Liberal); he became a professional baseball player and played with the St. Louis Cardinals. (Richard Cooper has written a book about Bob Harmon's experiences.)

Even though George Walser developed Liberal for "freethinkers" it wasn't long before he became interested in the religion of spiritualism. Liberal and especially Catalpa Park became widely known as an encampment area for spiritualists. Seances were held along with public speaking by mediums and clairvoyants. Walser advertised all over the country to bring large groups into the area. Many times the groups would stay for weeks or even months in tents at Catalpa Park.

The Catalpa Park area included 13 acres located about ½ mile south of town. George Walser built it in 1890 and planted lots of catalpa tree seeds, hence the name "Catalpa Park." The home of George Walser was also built on this property. The whole park was destroyed around 1930 to dig for coal.

Five books have been written about Liberal including history from its beginnings to around 1920. Brian King is interested in collecting history from 1920 to the present and possibly writing it down in the future. If you have information about Liberal, Missouri its residents, its schools, its businesses contact Brian King or the Barton County Historical Society (417-682-4141).

Presented to the Barton County Historical Society by Brian King on July 12, 2009.

Additional Resources:

Who Was Tracy Richardson?

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Tracy Custer Richardson was an adventurer, gold miner, explorer, soldier of fortune, writer, reporter, spy, police investigator, patriot of three countries, and a loving husband and brother. He was born at Broken Bow, Nebraska, November 21, 1892, the sixth child of his family. (His death certificate gives his birth date as 1889, but this probably is an error.) He moved to Lamar when only a few months old and later attended school through the eighth grade at the public school. He completed high school classes at the Lamar College.

(Ed. Note: Read a 1915 NY Times Magazine article on Richardson on the NY Times website: The "Machine-Gun Man of the Princess Pats"; Tracy Richardson, Adventurous Young American Who Has Seen Service in Mexico and Nicaragua, Getting Famous with the Canadians in Europe)

Tracy was appointed a corporal in Co. C, 2nd Infantry Missouri National Guard in Lamar in March 1905. Depending upon which birth date is correct, he was only 13 or 16 years old at that time. In 1908 he left Lamar to work for a pipeline company. One story tells that he left because he had stolen a gun and been ordered to eat all his meals with the sheriff. Getting tired of seeing the sheriff across the table three times a day, Richardson simply left town. He worked for the pipeline in 1908 and 1909 and then went to the tropics. In 1909 and 1910 he joined the Nicaraguan rebel army under General Luis Mena. While serving with the rebel army, he found himself in Managua, surrounded by federal soldiers. Tracy told the commanding general that the city was surrounded by rebel forces. Believing the story, the general surrendered the city to Tracy. (This is a documented fact.) Tracy took part in a Venezuelan revolution in 1911 and then joined the rebel army in Spanish Honduras. Each time he joined a force to overthrow a dictatorship or tyrannical government. He was paid $500 or $1,000 per month for his knowledge and his ability with a machine gun. (The most publicized picture of Tracy Richardson shows him sighting a machine gun.) He also received $500 cash for each battle won.

From 1911-1914 Tracy joined the Mexican revolutionary army fighting against Madero. Richardson and a friend wired a locomotive with dynamite and sent it crashing into an on-coming federal troop train. Hundreds of soldiers were killed. Pancho Villa placed a reward of $10,000 for Tracy. Meeting Villa in a saloon in El Paso, Tracy supposedly forced him (with the aid of a gun) to apologize for the inconvenience the reward poster had caused. When the American army landed at Vera Cruz, Tracy Richardson left the Mexican army and joined General Funston as an intelligence officer and guide with the rating and pay of captain.

In 1914 he left Mexico to go to Canada. There he joined the Princess Patricia Light Infantry Regiment. He fought with the unit in Belgium and was decorated for breaking up a machine gun attack at Ypres. In 1916 he transferred to the American Air Service. During the time he was hospitalized in Manchester, he completed work for a degree which was granted at this time from the Royal School of Mines.

Released from service in 1919, Tracy prospected and explored in Canada. In 1920-21 he inspected mines and forests and explored in Spanish Honduras. In 1922 he was asked to make an oil survey of the entire Republic of Guatemala. Also in 1922 he shot and killed a man in New Orleans. The case was presented to the Grand Jury which called it self defense. He worked again in Mexico but returned to New Orleans to work as a detective. Later he sold real estate in Florida and worked as an investigative report in Washington D.C., and served in New York as an agent for prohibition.

In 1932 he was employed by the Pelican Gold Mining Company, whose president was arrested for mail fraud. Tracy was twice arrested as a fugitive from justice because the company owner had used his name in the fraud. Eventually Tracy's name was cleared. In 1934 he moved to New York where he wrote for several magazines. Then in 1941 he entered active service in the United States Army. He was discharged in 1946 as a Lt. Colonel. He returned to New York where he lived until his wife died in 1947. Then he came back to Lamar, Missouri which he had always listed as his home. There he lived with his sister Lelah in the family home until his death on April 20, 1949 of heart failure. He is buried in the Richardson family plot in Lake Cemetery in Lamar. He served the United States in three wars - The Mexican Border War, World War I, and World War II. He also served in Canadian and British armed forces as well as selling his services to rebels trying to overthrow a dictator. At some time he also worked for the Civil Service because he was granted an annuity in 1948. No record has been found of what he did to qualify for this. The full story of the life of this fascinating man may never be known.

Presented to the Barton County Historical Society April 12, 1987 by Bob Douglas

History of Jugtown

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Jugtown was located in Richland Township. This area was rich in historical significance. There was a military stockade located here, early Indian campgrounds, and the first county poor farm. It was also the scene of cattle drives from Texas and a stagecoach road.

Allen Petty bought the land in 1867 for $0.75 an acre. The soil was especially fine for growing watermelons and fruit trees. There were several large orchards in the area. The railroad came in 1880-82.

In 1880 Frank Rist established a tile and jug factory near Forest Grove. As many as one hundred families moved there to work in the kilns. Forest Grove School had ninety students. In 1878 the Baptists established a mission church in a log barn. This became Forest Grove Church in 1888. Land for the first church, school, and cemetery was donated by Peter Carr.

The community of Jugtown was at its peak between 1880 and 1900. Jim "Strawberry" Brown opened a store in his home. Later he moved it to a separate building.

The first recorded mention of the pottery factory is found in the Barton County Business Directory compiled by B.F. Mann.

Workers were needed to dig the clay, cut firewood, man the kilns, etc. The factory made jugs, canning jars, dishes, bricks, and drainage tiles. Bricks from Jugtown were used to build the Lamar College. When that building was torn down, the bricks were subsequently used in the Memorial Hall.

The clay, orange or gray in color, came from Muddy Creek and Pettis Creek. The early potters used foot-powered wheels. Later steam engines, powered by coal from nearby pits, were used for the wheels.

Kilns were approximately ten feet wide, thirty or forty feet long, and probably tall enough to stand in. They were fired by oak wood. Pottery stayed in the kiln three or four days. Glazing was done by burning apple wood or by throwing salt on the pieces.

One of the legends associated with Jugtown concerns Lafe and Charley Rist. Hired as woodcutters, they preferred hunting instead. One story says that enough pheasant were shot in the area to keep the fine restaurants in Kansas City amply supplied.

In 1900 glass jars took the place of pottery. The factory then changed to drainage tiles, some of which is still in use in the surrounding fields. Between 1915 and 1917 the kilns were finally closed.

A large number of pieces of pottery were on display. Much of this had been dug up by Ralph Schmitt, who now owns land in the area. The barrels of old guns, also found nearby, may date from the military stockade. A collection of arrowheads points to the presence of Indians at some time.

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