Nicholas Porter Earp

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Nicholas Porter Earp
Born (1813-09-06)September 6, 1813
Lincoln County, North Carolina, US
Died (1907-02-12)February 12, 1907
Sawtelle, California, US
Occupation Soldier
Spouse(s) Abigail Storm
Virginia Cooksey
Annie Elizabeth Cadd
Children Newton, James, Virgil, Martha, Wyatt, Morgan, Warren, Virginia, Adelia
Parents Walter Earp
Martha Ann Early

Nicholas Porter Earp (September 6, 1813 - February 12, 1907) was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, to Walter and Martha Ann Earp. He is known as the father of Old West lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp.

Early life and military service[edit]

Nicholas' father Walter Earp, a school teacher and Methodist Episcopal preacher, was born in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1787. Nicholas' mother, Martha Ann Early, was born in Avery County, North Carolina, on August 28, 1790. Nicholas was the third of ten children; his siblings include six brothers: Lorenzo Dow, Josiah Jackson, James Kelly, Francis Asbury, Jonathan Douglas and Walter C (twins); as well as three sisters: Elizabeth, Mary Ann, and Sarah Ann.

Nicholas' family was descended from English and Ulster Scots roots. Soon after his birth, the Earp clan moved from Virginia to Hartford, Kentucky in 1813, where Nicholas spent the remainder of his childhood. As a young man, Nicholas was involved in the Black Hawk War of 1831 and later was a sergeant in the Mexican-American War. It was during the Mexican-American War that Nicholas served under Captain Wyatt Berry Stapp of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers. Nicholas later honored Captain Stapp by naming his fourth, and most famous son, Wyatt, after him. During the Civil War, Nicholas also served in Iowa as a provost marshal for recruitment; taking on the burden of sending local boys and men as well as his own sons Newton, James, and Virgil off to fight for the Union Army.

First marriage[edit]

On December 22, 1836, in Hartford, Nicholas Porter married Abigail Storm, the daughter of Peter and Anna Maria (Lehman) Sturm. Abigail was born on September 21, 1813, in Ohio County, Kentucky, and was the great-granddaughter of German immigrants who had originally settled in Frederick, Maryland. Nicolas and Abigail's short marriage produced Nicholas' first son, Newton Jasper Earp, born October 7, 1837. in Ohio County. Abigail then died at the early age of 26 on October 8, 1839 in Hartford, Kentucky, just eight months following the birth of their second child, daughter Mariah Ann. Mariah subsequently died two months after her mother, Abigail, on December 13, 1839.

Second marriage[edit]

A formal portrait of Nicholas Earp and of his second wife, Virginia Ann Cooksey Earp, c 1880 to 1899

On July 30, 1840, widower and single-parent Nicholas Earp wed local girl Virginia Ann Cooksey in Hartford. This second marriage produced eight children:

Farmer, constable, bootlegger, and wagon-master[edit]

On March 4, 1856, Nicholas sold his Pella, Iowa, farm to Aquillin Waters Noe (who resold it on the same day to Hiram Zenas Webster) and the family returned to Monmouth, Illinois, where Nicholas found that nobody wanted his services as cooper or farmer. Unable to find work, Nicholas found work as a municipal constable, which he served as for about three years. He reportedly also sold bootleg alcohol which made him the target of the local women's temperance group. In 1859, he was tried and convicted of bootlegging. Nicholas was unable to pay his court-imposed fines following his trial, and on November 11, 1859, his property was sold at an auction. Two days later, the Earps left Monmouth and returned to Pella. Nicholas apparently made frequent travels to Monmouth throughout 1860 to confirm and conclude the sale of his properties and to face several lawsuits for debt and accusations of tax evasion. On May 12, 1864, the Earp family joined a wagon train heading to California. According to the diaries of Utah immigrants in the wagon train, Nicholas was one of the wagon-masters on their overland trek.

An itinerant family life[edit]

In spring 1868, the Earps moved again, this time coming back to the mid-west and settling in Lamar, Missouri, where Nicholas became the local constable. By November 17, 1869, Nicholas resigned to become Justice of the Peace. Son Wyatt, who had been studying the law with his grandfather, Walter, was immediately appointed constable in place of his father.

Some time prior to 1880, Nicholas and Virginia Earp moved back to California, settling in San Bernardino County while son James and his wife Nellie moved to Tombstone, Arizona. Enumerated one year prior to the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral, the 1880 United States Census shows the Nicholas Earp household to include son Morgan and his wife Louisa ("Lou"). The record also listed Nicholas' occupation as a farmer and youngest son Warren residing with his parents at that time. Along with being a farmer, Nicholas also had several civic involvements, to include becoming one of the founders of the San Bernardino Society of California Pioneers (which in later years would merge with the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society).

Third marriage and death[edit]

Following Virginia's death on January 14, 1893, in San Bernardino, Nicholas married Annie Elizabeth Cadd on October 14 of the same year. His new wife was the widow of Ambrose Peck Alexander (1825–1884) [2] and was born in 1842 in Preston Bissett, Buckingham, England. She died in 1931 and is buried near Virginia and Nellie Earp (wife of son James Earp) at the Pioneer Cemetery in San Bernardino.

Nicholas Earp died at The Soldier's Home in Sawtelle, California, on February 12, 1907, shortly after he was elected to the Los Angeles County court. He is buried in West Los Angeles at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. He had outlived six of his ten children.[3]


  1. ^ James Earp
  2. ^ "Ambrose Peck Alexander". 2010-01-28. 
  3. ^ "Hears of Death of Earp" 33 (28). Los Angeles Herald. 29 October 1905. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 

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