About Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock (January 1850 – July 3, 1888) was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about 8 years. Knowledge of her place in Wyatt's life was concealed by Josephine Earp, his later common-law wife, who worked hard to protect her and Wyatt's reputation in their later years.
Mattie was born in Monroe Township, Johnson County, Iowa, near Fairfax, Iowa, to Henry Blaylock and Elizabeth "Betsy" Vance. She was their third child and second daughter. The family lived on a small farm that Henry had obtained in 1846. Henry and his wife were stern parents and adhered to the principle, "spare the rod and spoil the child," and "children should be seen and not heard."
Celia, or "Celie" as she was known as a child, attended Sunday school, learned Biblical parables, and was taught to live by the Ten Commandments. When her older sister Martha Jane was 17, she married Charles Probst on July 1, 1870. Celia had no desire to live on a farm the rest of her life.
In mid-1868, Mattie ran away with her younger sister Sarah to avoid farm life. Mattie was a reasonably skilled seamstress and may have sought work in that field, but both girls found life on their own very difficult. There were few employment possibilities for young girls. They likely headed west to one of the growing towns along the Kansas-Iowa-Missouri border area.
Sarah returned home less than a year later, chagrined and shamed by her experience. Her parents greeted her cheerlessly and took her back in disgrace. The first known record of Mattie's presence is a picture taken in Fort Scott in 1871. It's not known where she and Sarah spent the intervening time. Court records indicate that the clerks may have phonetically spelled her Iowa-accented use of "Celia" as "Sally", for no court records are found throughout her life using the name Mattie. At some point she chose the alias "Sally" probably in an effort to conceal her identity and remain as anonymous as possible. Court records show that she adopted prostitution as her profession beginning in 1872 in Fort Scott, then later in Dodge City.
Meets Wyatt Earp
Celia may have met Wyatt as early as 1871 and perhaps as late as the fall of 1873. She continued to work as a prostitute during their early years together. In the 1880 United States Census Mattie is listed as Wyatt's wife though there is no record of a legal marriage.
She was said to have suffered from severe headaches, and while in Tombstone, Arizona she became heavily addicted to laudanum, a commonly used opiate and pain killer of the day. It is not known exactly when Earp and Mattie Blaylock ended their relationship. Tombstone diarist George W. Parsons never mentioned seeing Earp and Sadie together and neither did John Clum in his memoirs. Frank Waters wrote The Earp Brothers of Tombstone in which he told tales of terrible, public fights between Sadie and Mattie Blaylock and how the affair was a public scandal. However, Waters' book has been criticized as extremely biased for its negative portrayal of Wyatt Earp and for including details not mentioned in Addie Earp's original manuscript.
After the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and following the March 18, 1882 assassination of Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp, his youngest brother Warren, and a posse of other deputies took the law into their own hands and began a vendetta. They hunted down some of the outlaw Cowboys they believed responsible for maiming Virgil Earp and killing Morgan. In early April, Wyatt left Arizona for New Mexico and then Colorado.
Mattie left Tombstone with other Earp family members for Colton, California. She apparently expected to receive a telegram from Earp telling her where to meet him, but it never arrived. Instead, Earp went to San Francisco in late 1882 and began a relationship with Josephine "Sadie" Marcus, who had been the common-law wife of Johnny Behan. Blaylock finally left Colton for Pinal City, Arizona Territory, a town that Mattie and Earp had stopped in for a couple of months in 1879 on their way to Tombstone. When the pair had been there three years earlier, it was a booming silver town. Upon Mattie's return, however, the silver boom had died down there and the bulk of the town's itinerant population had moved on. Mattie had planned a return to prostitution in Pinal City, but with most of the prospective clientele gone with the silver, making a decent living there proved difficult.
On July 3, 1888, Mattie took a lethal dose of laudanum together with alcohol. Her death was officially ruled as "suicide by opium poisoning". She is buried in the cemetery at Pinal City, now a ghost town, and located just west of the former cement and mining town of Superior, Arizona.