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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Project designed to capture participants in the gunfight as well as associates, relations, and others involved before and after. This includes those involved in the trial of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday, the Cowboy retribution and the Earp Vendetta Ride.

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, and is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the American Old West. The gunfight, believed to have lasted only about thirty seconds, was fought between the outlaw Cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury, and the opposing town Marshal Virgil Earp and his brothers Assistant Town Marshal Morgan and temporary lawman Wyatt, aided by Doc Holliday designated as a temporary marshal by Virgil. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight unharmed, but Ike's brother Billy Clanton was killed, along with both McLaurys. Lawmen Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Of the lawmen, only Wyatt Earp came through the fight unharmed. The fight has come to represent a time in American history when the frontier was open range for outlaws opposed by law enforcement that was spread thin over vast territories, leaving some areas unprotected.

The gunfight was not well known to the American public until 1931 when author Stuart Lake published what has since been determined to be a largely fictionalized biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, two years after Earp's death. Lake retold his story in a 1946 book that director John Ford developed into the movie My Darling Clementine. After the movie Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was released in 1957, the shootout came to be known by that name. Since then, the conflict has been portrayed with varying degrees of accuracy in numerous Western films and books.

Despite its name, the gunfight actually occurred in a narrow lot six doors west of the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral on Fremont Street, and also in the street. The two opposing parties were initially only about 6 feet (1.8 m) apart. About thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds. Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Doc Holliday but they were eventually exonerated by a local judge after a 30-day preliminary hearing and then again by a local grand jury.

On December 28, 1881, Virgil Earp was maimed in an assassination attempt by the outlaw Cowboys, and on March 18, 1882, they assassinated Morgan Earp. The suspects furnished solid alibis, and newly appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp took matters into his own hands during the Earp Vendetta Ride, ironically pursued by county Sheriff Johnny Behan with warrants for the Earps' arrest.

Note: Billy Claiborne is the only participant in the gunfight who's profile is not included in this project