A man arrived in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1879. He was six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and his eyes, dark-blue and clear, like the shadows upon an ice-berg, looked squarely into the faces of other men who held out hands in greeting to the new Deputy Sheriff of Pima County.
Wyatt Earp arrived in Tombstone around December 1, 1879. Earp was not a Deputy Sheriff upon his arrival in Tombstone, nor was he a Deputy U.S. Marshal as has often been asserted. Wyatt was appointed Deputy Sheriff by Pima County Sheriff Charles Shibell on July 27, 1880. Earp became a Deputy U.S. Marshal following the shooting of his brother Virgil in December 1881.
The new-comer was Wyatt Earp, whose name even then was well-known over the unsettled west from the Canadian to the Mexican border, and not unknown as far east as New York City.
In reality, when Wyatt arrived in Arizona he far from well-known as a lawman anywhere accept the towns that he had worked in Kansas.
Reputable citizens of Tombstone, as well as those who defied any law, human or Devine, knew that Wyatt Earp had been Deputy City Marshal of Wichita, Kansas, for three years when that town had been the railroad terminus and also main cattle-shipping point of the section. It was considered the wildest town of the wooly west. Earp's record there as an officer who could, and would, enforce the law, had resulted in a call from the officials of Dodge City, Kansas to come to their town. The railroad had reached Dodge City, and with it were many new people, not all of whom were regarded as desirable citizens.
Few people in Tombstone had ever heard of Wyatt Earp when he arrived in Tombstone and few knew anything about his background. Wyatt's tenure as a "policeman" in Wichita was closer to one year, not three. He was hired on April 21, 1875 at a salary of $60 per month. Earp was off the force in April 1876.
Wichita offered to increase Wyatt Earp's pay if he would remain, but Dodge City bid higher and held the inducement that he would be City Marshall. Earp accepted the offer and left Wichita knowing that his record there as a man and an officer was clean and open to inspection.
Wyatt was dismissed from the Wichita police force in April 1876, after he was arrested following an altercation with William Smith, the candidate opposing Earp's boss, Mike Meagher, for Sheriff. On April 19, 1876, a newly elected council did not re-appoint Wyatt to the position. Earp then left town and went to Dodge City, where he was hired on the police force. However, Earp was not hired as, nor was he ever hired as, the CITY MARSHAL of Dodge City. Though Wyatt would misreprent his position in Dodge on many different occasions during his life.
Dodge City was an incorporated town, with a mayor, city council and city attorney. It had ordinances prohibiting the carrying of guns inside the city limits, heavy fines for shooting up saloons, stores or places of amusement. In fact, the officials of Dodge were doing their utmost to govern the town as any place is governed to-day. It was not an easy task, for the lawless and transient element defied such regulations openly, until the leading citizens determined to send to Wichita for the man who had helped materially to 'tame' that erstwhile lively town.
The four-year record of Wyatt Earp while City Marshall of Dodge, added to the reputation won during the previous three years as Deputy Marshal of Wichita. During the four years as Marshall of Dodge, Earp and Bat Masterson became friends. Masterson was on the Police force, but in the fall of 1876 ran for sheriff and was elected. He was not, as has been sometimes stated, Marshall of Dodge, nor did Virgil and Wyatt Earp succeed as Marshalls to Masterson. During all this time Virgil Earp was never in Dodge City, but living with his wife in Prescott, Arizona.
Wyatt only served seasonally in Dodge City as an assistant marshal from April 1876 to September 1879. He had not served for four straight years- there were significant gaps in his employment while in Dodge City.
Letters from Virgil to Wyatt told of the mining boom in Tombstone, Arizona, and the chances of locating good claims. Wyatt Earp, tired of seven years in the two Kansas towns where he was in constant warfare against the criminal ele- . . . TO BE CONTINUED>
Again, Wyatt's tenure as a Kansas lawman was much less than the seven years asserted. It should be noted that no mention was made about Wyatt's supposed arrest of the notorious Ben Thompson in Ellsworth in 1873. Perhaps, Wyatt had not yet thought this story up yet.