O.K. Corral

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Cowboys who died here, still linger.

 

DESCRIPTION

Tombstone’s The OK Corral is the site of the famous gunfight between the law’s marshals: Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday, against the outlaw cowboys and ranchers who stole cattle and sold them to the miners and others for meat, murdering folks along the way: Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLowery. That fateful day was October 26th 1881.

Today, the OK Corral is a replica of the original 1880 corral as the original was burnt up in a fire, leaving only its sign. There is a wall around what was the alleyway and the corral itself, as the actual shoot out happened in this alleyway. There is no roof over this area that is quite large. The 5th Street is right on the other side of the wall. For a price of a ticket, this famous gunfight can be watched today inside the walls. We missed the last show at 4:00 when we visited there, but will see it next time. The show takes place outside.

For admission price, there is also a museum showcasing artifacts and pictures of the participants in this famous gunfight, which adds to the whole experience.

Inside, ticket holders can sit on the observation stands located on the south wall. The replica of the corral is not open for the public to saunter inside, but can openly be seen with the manikins of the parties involved facing off. Live actors in full cowboy/ lawman dress square off against each other.

 

HISTORY

During the beginning boom years of Tombstone, suddenly a large population of miners, businessmen, Chinese workmen, European immigrants and townsfolk flocked to this opportunity to be where silver flowed and riches could be made and spent. Nearly all loved meat as part of their diet, opening up irresistible opportunities for ranchers to sell their cattle to meat lovers.

To keep their overhead down and to make more money, some ranchers with bad attitudes and with outlaw cowboys working for them, decided to rustle cattle from rancheros just over the Mexican boarder, while also smuggling in goods that the Mexican government heavily taxed. These folks made up the serious crime element in the countryside and Tombstone as well.

Other wrong-doing: They also stole cows from neighboring ranchers. They held up stage coaches, killed well-loved drivers and guards, probably robbed passengers and stole the wealth being transported. They also liked to come in town and shoot their guns, drink too much and cause havoc, like the stereotypes seen in the movies, who may have been inspired by Tombstone’s problems.

Sherriff White was out-numbered and was shot by accident by one of the cowboys. The Federal Marshall heard the pleas for help, and sent a deputy federal marshall, no nonsense, straight as an arrow Virgil Earp. He asked his brothers Wyatt, Morgan, James and Warren to come with him. Doc Holiday, Wyatt’s friend also came too. This development threatened the Clanton family and the McLowery brothers goal to take over Tombstone as well, as they already controlled the countryside. The cowboys weren’t too pleased either.

Besides the goal for more power and money, there were other underlying reasons. The ranchers and some cowboys were southerners, and fought for the Confederacy. The miners, the mine owners, business owners, townspeople, and lawmen were northerners and fought with the Union side.

When the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday; suffering from TB, rode into Tombstone, this started a personal, family and political feud. All five of the Earp brothers were made of stern stuff, being raised by Nick and Ann Earp to be brave, honorable and loyal to each other. Nick was a strict but loving lawman/justice of the peace. All his children were instilled with fortitude to always do the lawful thing and protect family.

The Clanton family was just the opposite. Their patriarch N Clanton had a checkered past with the law, not afraid to take advantage and rob for profit. He came to the valley, only 15 miles from the mesa where tombstone would spring up. He started a cattle ranch, in an area only 30 miles from the Mexican boarder. Ill-gotten wealth was awaiting them, and the Clantons with the McLowery brothers joining them started smuggling tobacco and alcohol over the boarder, and helping themselves to the Mexican ranch cattle. They even held up a Mexican convoy; killing some important guards and people. They asked for trouble and got it, paying a stiff price.

Wyatt and Virgil Earp joined Mexican forces in stopping these men from taking stolen riches and cows back to their ranches. In this skirmish, N Clanton was killed. Uh Oh! Some pretty big grudges were formed against the Earp brothers. The feud officially began in earnest.

For weeks, the Clantons and the McLowerys boasted how they were planning to shoot the Earps, trying to bully them which usually worked for them. They started to send warning notes for the Earp brothers to leave Tombstone or be shot dead. The Tombstone City Council voted to ban guns and weapons in town and all weapons must be dropped off at the livery stables found on the outskirts of town before entering Tombstone.

Virgil and Wyatt started to forcefully collect guns. They took Ike Clanton’s gun and moved onto Billy Claiborne, relieving him of his gun. Billy Clanton, Tom McLowery, Frank McLowery still had their guns, and were waiting, hoping that the Earp brothers would ask them for their guns, giving them the opportunity to shoot. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne joined them, even though they were unarmed.

When Virgil and Wyatt Earp heard that the bad ones were waiting for them at the OK Corral, they picked up reinforcements; Doc Holiday and Morgan Earp. The Earp squad entered the vacant lot and alley next to the OK Corral where they faced these surly lawbreakers with bad attitudes and with a need for revenge.

Virgil Earp kept asking for their guns. Ike and Billy Claiborne fled the showdown, while the three remaining started shooting, starting a 3 minute shoot out. Both Virgil and Doc Holliday were wounded, while the McLowery brothers and Billy Clanton were dead. Wyatt didn’t get a scratch. The feud continued.

Ike complained to the sheriff and the Earps and Doc Holliday were put on trial but acquitted because it was ruled that they were just doing their job. Two months later, the Earps were still getting death threats, but they stayed. Virgil was ambushed while walking across the street, and lost the use of his arm. Morgan Earp was playing pool at Campbell and Hatch’s Saloon and Billiard Parlor in the back of the building. He was shot through the back window and his spine was shattered. He wound up dying on the lounge sofa there surrounded by all his brothers, Doc Holliday and their wives who were still in Tombstone.

The suspects in Morgan’s killing were arrested, but were let go because of the false alibis given for them from other cowboys. Federal Judge William Stilwell advised Wyatt that federal justice would bring the culprits of Virgil’s shooters to court. So, after getting Federal warrants, Wyatt Earl and his posse decided to first travel with Virgil and his wife with Morgan’s remains to Tucson. Trouble followed them. They wound up shooting Frank Stillwell who was waiting to get a shot at Virgil to finish him off. Ike Clanton escaped. Ike apparently had nine lives.

The sheriff in Tucson, who was friends with the cowboys sent an arrest warrant to Tombstone to Sheriff Behan, for Wyatt and Warren Earp. Sheriff Behan was also friends with the cowboys. The Earp brothers ignored Sheriff Behan’s attempt to arrest them. Instead, they gathered their posse, still armed with their Federal warrants to search for the cowboys who needed to be brought to justice or be killed fighting. Earp and his posse hunted down and wound up having to kill the four men responsible.

They escaped Sheriff Behan’s huge posse of 20 cowboys; with the help of other ranchers and businessmen of Tombstone, and were able to escape into New Mexico. All the Earp brothers and their wives wound up safely in Colorado and California. Doc Holliday finally succumbed to TB in Denver.

In 1927, Wyatt Earp defended his decisions he made in Tombstone to author Stewart lake, who was writing Wyatt’s biography.

“For my handling of the situation at Tombstone, I have no regrets. Were it to be done over again, I would do exactly as I did at that time. If the outlaws and their friends and allies imagined that they could intimidate or exterminate the Earps by a process of murder, and then hide behind alibis and the technicalities of the law, they simply missed their guess.”

“I want to call your particular attention again to one fact, which writers of Tombstone incidents and history apparently have overlooked: with the deaths of the McLowerys, the Clantons, Stillwell, Florentino Cruz, Curly Bill, and the rest; organized, politically protected crime, and depredations in Cochise County ceased.”

On July 1st, 1897, another killing happened on East Allen St., near the OK Corral site. Two ranchers who hated each other, finally had it out. William Greene shot Justice Jim Burnett as a consequence of their feud over water rights. Both shared the river. Greene had dammed up the river. Burnett hired a man to blow up the damn. Greene’s daughter and her friend were drowned in the rushing water.

 

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS

People who are determined to finish an important task, or to fulfill revenge against an enemy but are killed before they are able to do so, can be restless and grounded in this world. They are often stuck in the moment or hours before their death, trying to accomplish what they failed at doing; seeing if they can change the outcome. They may try to pretend that they are still alive.

Several of the cowboys are sorely disappointed and even angry and more determined, not letting death stop them. Some spirits are not ready to admit that they are dead, and try to continue, sometimes staying where they died, especially if they died at the hands of another.

Other spirits of cowboys who died here, still linger, sometimes getting some chuckles at the expense of the innocent tourists. The Spirit of Justice Jim Burnett still goes about his business. The Spirit of Morgan Earp still tries to fit in, even as a spirit.

 

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Spirit of Billy Clanton

His apparition is seen floating from Boot Hill into the historic district of Tombstone.

He likes to keep watch for the Earp brothers on the corner of 5th and East Allen Street.

The spirit of Billy Clanton is also thought to visit the Bird Cage Theater and sit in the Clantons box on the side of the wall. When a mannequin of Wyatt Earp was placed in the Clanton box seat, staff would find Earp’s hat in the middle of the floor in the morning. When the mannequin had been turned around, they did some research and discovered their mistake, and removed the mannequin.

During the day, an unseen presence or two makes their presences known in the OK corral area. One visitor reported that a presence walked right through him; sounds like a spirit bully.

Billy Clanton Continued

Shadows and apparitions have been seen lingering around. When spirits with guns start reliving that day when they died; shooting in the corral, its thought that one of the sprits was Billy Clanton, still trying to kill the Earp boys.

The spirit of Morgan and perhaps the spirit of Virgil and the other spirits are on the other side of the battle.

Footsteps are heard inside and outside the corral and outside area. Disembodied voices also are heard.

Spirit of Justice Jim Burnett

He is described as being a tall, thin man with a brim hat.

His apparition is clearly seen entering the old office building behind the OK Corral and walking/floating down the street near the OK Corral.

One staff member caught this spirit peeking at him through the blinds at him.

STILL HAUNTED?

Yes Indeed for two grounded intelligent spirits, Billy Clanton, and Justice Jim Burnett with spirits of their friends and family probably coming to visit and perhaps even trying to get them to come with them back to the other side.

The spirit of Billy Clanton is stuck in Tombstone because he is so frustrated in not being able to get revenge and claim his power and dominance in Tombstone. He is still trying to achieve what he couldn’t while alive. Naturally he is in a crabby mood, and on occasion will interact with the tourists in not very nice ways, which reflects his bullying personality. He has been known to walk right through living tourists. His spirit has been indirectly experienced in The Bird Cage where he must visit along with all the other spirits who still party there at night.

The spirit of Justice Jim Burnett is still stuck here for two reasons. Because his death was so quick and sudden, he doesn’t want to admit that he is dead or doesn’t realize that he is in spirit form and continues to go to work in his old office. Perhaps he also is feeling a little guilty because the blowup of the dam caused a child and her friend to drown. He may be afraid to go to the other side with these deaths on his hands, though the man who shot him is the one who put up the damn.

Throughout the years since the OK Corral , boatloads of witnesses; mostly staff, some ghost tours, independent people have seen apparitions and heard footsteps and disembodied voices. Tourists have claimed that an unseen presence likes to walk through folks.

Not much hard evidence has been caught that has been made public. No direct contact through EVPs has been shared with the public. The old Ghost Hunter Show; (2006) when they relied solely on their instruments, came up with nothing, but they didn’t try to make direct contact. They also were hampered by the weather – high winds blowing.

 

LOCATION

The OK Corral is located on the corner of 5th Street and East Allen Street in historic old town Tombstone.

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • Haunted Tombstone, by Cody Polston, pg 100-109, Haunted America, 2018.
  • tombstonechamber.com/
  • en.wikipedia.org
  • creepyghoststories.com/
  • legendsofamerica.com

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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