|Warren Baxter Earp|
Warren Baxter Earp
March 9, 1855|
Pella, Iowa, United States
|Died||July 6, 1900
Willcox, Arizona Territory, United States
|Cause of death||Gunshot|
|Occupation||Lawman, stagecoach driver|
|Opponent(s)||Frank Stilwell, Johnnie Boyett|
|Parents||Nicholas Porter Earp, Virginia Ann Cooksey|
Warren Baxter Earp (March 9, 1855 – July 6, 1900) was the youngest brother of Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, James, and Newton Earp. Although he was not present during the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, after Virgil was maimed in an ambush, Warren joined Wyatt and was in town when Morgan was assassinated. He also helped Wyatt in the hunt for the outlaws they believed responsible. Later in life, Warren developed a reputation as a bully and was killed in an argument in 1900.
Warren was born in Pella, Iowa. Little is known about his early life. Like Wyatt and Morgan, he was too young to take part in the American Civil War, as his older brothers James, Virgil, and Newton did. He was eighteen years younger than Newton. He joined his brothers in Tombstone, Arizona in 1880, and worked occasionally as a deputy for Virgil collecting taxes and for periodic guard duty. Wyatt landed the Faro concession at the Oriental Saloon. Virgil was the Deputy Marshall and in mid-1881 became the Tombstone city marshal as well. James was his deputy. The Earps had ongoing conflicts with a loose federation of outlaws known as The Cowboys, who were implicated in ongoing livestock thefts and had repeatedly threatened to kill the Earps if they interfered.
Warren was at his parents' home in Colton, California at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881. On December 28, 1881, the Cowboys ambushed Virgil Earp, maiming him. Warren returned to Tombstone and was deputized by Wyatt. On March 18, 1882, Morgan Earp was murdered while playing billiards. On March 20, 1882 he joined a posse guarding Virgil and Allie as they were transported to Tucson to catch a train for California. At the station, Frank Stilwell was spotted lying in wait for Virgil and was killed. Pima County Justice of the Peace Charles Meyer issued warrants for the arrest of Warren, Wyatt, Doc Holliday, "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson, and Sherman McMaster. The men returned to Tombstone where Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan found the men in the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, heavily armed, getting ready to leave town. He told Wyatt he wanted to see him. Deputy Marshal Wyatt replied: "Johnny, if you're not careful you'll see me once too often." On Friday the Tucson Grand Jury returned indictments naming all five men. The men were never tried or convicted. They left Tombstone that night and during the next week killed three more Cowboys they believed responsible for attacking their brothers in a vendatta across Cochise County.
Later life and death
Following the vendetta ride, Warren left Arizona for a time. He returned in 1891, and worked as a mail stage driver on the route between Willcox and Fort Grant. He may have worked briefly as a range detective for rancher Henry Hooker in Cochise County, Arizona. Modern depictions of Warren Earp portray him as being slightly naive and youthful. After the shootout in Tombstone, he gained a reputation as a bully, playing off the reputation of his older brothers.
His brother Virgil was sure Warren's temper would get him killed. Virgil was reunited in 1898 with his first wife Ellen and daughter Nellie who had been told he had been killed in the Civil War. They visited twice, and Nellie told The Oregonian that during their visit, "My father said then, 'If Warren ever dies he will be shot. He is too hasty, quick-tempered and too ready to pick a quarrel. Besides he will not let bygones be bygones, and on that account, I expect that he will meet a violent death.'"
On July 6, 1900, Warren became involved in an argument with Hooker's range boss, Johnny Boyett, inside Brown's Saloon in Willcox. Boyett and Warren had been involved in verbal disputes before that night, and rumor was that their mutual dislike stemmed from affections for the same woman, possibly a local prostitute. However, the Tombstone Epitaph says that the incident began out of Earp's constant bullying of Boyett.
Later that night, the two men, both drunk, began arguing. Bystanders said they "never heard any man take such abuse." Warren Earp is alleged to have said "Boyett, get your gun and we'll settle this right here. I've got mine, go and get yours". Boyett left and returned shortly thereafter with two .45 caliber Colt handguns. Boyett called out for Earp, who walked in from another doorway. Immediately upon seeing Earp, Boyett fired two rounds, but both missed.
Earp stepped calmly outside of the saloon onto the street without producing a weapon, just as Boyett fired two more rounds, missing again with both. Earp entered the saloon again and walked towards Boyett, opened his coat and vest. "I have not got arms. You have a good deal the best of this". Earp continued walking toward Boyett, talking the entire time. As Boyett warned him several times to halt, Boyett appearing slightly frightened but angry. When Earp did not stop, Boyett fired a fifth round, this time striking Earp in the chest, killing him almost instantly. Boyett claimed that he feared for his life, and that by allowing Warren Earp to get too close, he believed his life was in danger. Warren Earp was found to have been unarmed, though he had an open pocket knife in his fist. No arrest was made.
Lynn R. Baily, the daughter of rancher Henry Hooker, wrote in Henry Clay Hooker and the Sierra Bonita that "Virgil Earp sneaked into Willcox under an assumed name, checked into the hotel near Brown's Saloon, and began interviewing witnesses. He concluded his brother's death was "cold blooded murder even if Warren was drunk and abusive at the time."
Boyett was arrested for the shooting. The coroner's inquest confirmed that he killed Earp. Boyett sought protection from the local sheriff, fearing retribution from the Earp brothers. He returned to work on Hooker's ranch, staying out of Willcox for a long period of time. Wyatt did not get involved in the incident, nor did James or Newton. It was later falsely reported that the Earps avenged Warren's death by killing Boyett. Boyett eventually retired in Redlands, California. He later died in Texas.
Warren Earp was buried in Willcox at the Pioneer Cemetery.
The Tombstone Epitaph reported the following on July 9, 1900:
|“||Warren Earp, the youngest of the four Earp brothers whose names twenty years ago were synonymous with gun fighting on the Arizona frontier, "died with his boots on" here. He was shot through, the heart in a saloon by Cowboy Johnny Boyett, and died almost Instantly. The shooting occurred early in the morning and grew out of a feud that had existed between the two men ever since the bloody fights between the Earp's and Arizona cattle rustler about Tombstone In the early eighties [1880s]. Earp had habitually bullied Boyett for months past, and the latter always tried to avoid a quarrel. A few days ago Earp cornered Boyett in a saloon, and, pressing a revolver against Boyett's stomach, made him promise that if they ever quarreled again the one should kill the other. The two men met in a restaurant and Earp began his abuse. Boyett went Into an adjoining saloon, followed by Earp. The latter said: "Boyett, go get your gun and we'll settle the matter right here. I've got my gun; go get yours." Boyett was willing and agreed to return in a few moments and fight it out. Earp also left the saloon. Boyett returned very soon and finding Earp gone warned all loungers in the saloon to clear out, emphasizing his warning by shooting into the ceiling. Earp shortly appeared through a back door. He started toward Boyett, throwing open his coat and saying: "Boyett, I am unarmed; you have the best of this," advancing as spoke. Boyett warned him not to come nearer, but Earp did not heed the words, and when within eight feet Boyett fired, shooting Earp through the heart and killing him instantly. Warren Earp was the youngest brother of the Earp family. He was well known by Uncle-Sheriff Paul of Tucson, who was Sheriff of Pima county in the eighties when trouble occurred between the Earps and the Clanton gang. Earp came to this country about the time of the beginning of the feud from Colton, Cal. He was one of the original brothers and took an active part in their fights after he arrived. Morgan Earp was killed In 1883 In Bob Hatch's saloon in Tombstone, being shot from the back as he was playing billiards. Virgil Earp later was shot in the arm and seriously wounded and the killing of Frank Stilwell occurred In Tucson not long after, when he attempted to shoot Virgil through a car window. Stilwell was shot by Wyatt Earp. Warren came here when his brothers got into trouble at Tombstone with the Clanton gang and he has remained here since. He was driving stage from Willcox to Fort Grant and had done freighting.||”|
- "Warren Earp". Wild West History Association. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- "Killing of Warren Earp". Discover Arizona. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- "Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Posse". HistoryNet.com. January 29, 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
- "Earp Vendetta Ride". Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- "Grand Jury Indictment for the Killing of Frank Stilwell". Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- "Frontier Lawman Virgil Earp". June 12, 2006. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- "Cochise County Arizona Murders". Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- Hickey, Michael M. (2000). The death of Warren Baxter Earp: A Closer Look (foreword by Leo W. Banks ed.). Honolulu, Hawaii: Talei Publishers. ISBN 978-0-9631772-5-4. Introduction by Richard Lapidus.