Wednesday, October 26, 2011


October 26: 

1881: Shootout at the OK Corral

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented "law and order" in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.

On the morning of October 25, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury came into Tombstone for supplies. Over the next 24 hours, the two men had several violent run-ins with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday. Around 1:30 p.m. on October 26, Ike's brother Billy rode into town to join them, along with Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne. The first person they met in the local saloon was Holliday, who was delighted to inform them that their brothers had both been pistol-whipped by the Earps. Frank and Billy immediately left the saloon, vowing revenge.

Around 3 p.m., the Earps and Holliday spotted the five members of the Clanton-McLaury gang in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral, at the end of Fremont Street. The famous gunfight that ensued lasted all of 30 seconds, and around 30 shots were fired. Though it's still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury's chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.

Sheriff John Behan of Cochise County, who witnessed the shootout, charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. A month later, however, a Tombstone judge found the men not guilty, ruling that they were "fully justified in committing these homicides." The famous shootout has been immortalized in many movies, including Frontier Marshal (1939), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994).

American Revolution
1776 : Benjamin Franklin sets sail for France

1955 : "Outlaw" Sammy Swindell is born

Civil War
1864 : Rebel guerilla leader "Bloody Bill" Anderson is killed

Cold War
1955 : Diem declares himself premier of Republic of Vietnam

1948 : An abused wife gets revenge
1984 : An Ozzy Osbourne fan commits suicide

1998 : Hurricane Mitch slams into Central America

General Interest
1825 : Erie Canal opens
1944 : Battle of Leyte Gulf ends
1984 : Infant receives baboon heart

1946 : Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak born

1900 : Henry James and Edith Wharton begin corresponding

1985 : Whitney Houston earns her first #1 hit with "Saving All My Love For You"

Old West
1881 : The Earps shoot it out at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona

2001 : George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act

1986 : Buckner lets ground ball roll through his legs

Vietnam War
1955 : Diem wins referendum in South Vietnam
1966 : Fire breaks out on U.S. aircraft carrier
1968 : Big battle begins in Tay Ninh Province

World War I
1917 : Brazil declares war on Germany

World War II
1942 : The United States loses the Hornet

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