A brother of the more famous Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Warren Earp was born in Pella, Iowa.
In 1881 he joined his brothers in Tombstone. Virgil deputized Warren to collect taxes and periodic guard duty. He did not participate in the OK Corral gunfight (assuming he was even in Tombstone at that time), but was present when his brother Morgan Earp was killed. He rode with Wyatt on the vendetta and followed the gang to the mining towns of Colorado.
His death is the most controversial event with different versions surfacing over the years. Here is one version from the book HENRY CLAY HOOKER AND THE SIERRA BONITA by Lynn R. Bailey pages 113-114:
"Warren Earp, the youngest Earp brother, returned to Arizona in 1891. He supported himself in the territory by driving the mail stage between Willcox and Fort Grant, and tending bar in Willcox. It is claimed that in 1900 Warren was employed as a range detective for the Arizona Cattlemen's Association. If he did have such a position it was of short duration, for in July of that year Warren was shot in a Willcox barroom by Johnnie Boyett, one of Henry Hooker's range foremen.
The death of forty-five year old Warren Earp immediately produced speculation. Brother Virgil attributed it to a sinister plot on the part "of the Tombstone crowd [who] are determined to eventually destroy we Earps.' In reality, there was no conspiracy. Being a bully Warren merely got what he deserved. Although the immediate cause of the fracas is not clear, it is generally conceded that Warren had tormented Johnnie for some time, and as Billy Whelan, Jr., speculated, the men may have been rivals for the affections of a girl.
At any rate, their conflict came to a head in Brown's Saloon on July 6, 1900, when an inebriated Warren lit into Boyett. Bystanders "never heard any man take such abuse." Finally Earp said, "Boyett, get your gun and we will settle this thing right here. I've got my gun, you go and get yours."
Boyett retreated from the bar, went to his hotel room and secured two 45-caliber Colts and returned to the saloon. Advancing to the middle of the saloon, Boyett called out, "Where is that ___ __ ____. Just then Earp appeared in the door.
Seeing Warren, Boyett fired two shots and missed. Warren then stepped out of the saloon onto the sidewalk. Boyett fired two more shots at his opponent, only to miss again. Warren then reentered the saloon by another door Opening his coat and vest, Earp exclaimed "I have not got any arm. You have a good deal the best of this." When Warren continued to advance, all the time talking, Johnnie warned him to halt several times. He didn't, and Boyett fired a fifth shot. The bullet penetrated Warren's heart and he fell to the floor face down, and died almost instantly. A partially opened pocketknife was found in his hand.
Warren Earp, who had a reputation as a "merciless bully" was buried in the Willcox cemetery at the expense of Cochise County. Due to the fact that Warren Earp was armed with a pocketknife, and had goaded him into the confrontation, Boyett was exonerated of any wrongdoing by a coroner's inquest. He was, after all, considered "a gentleman" by "all who knew him."
Nevertheless, 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." Thinking someone else was involved, possible Pete Spencer, the old and crippled lawman vowed "not to rest until the real culprit is run to earth and killed, for he more than Boyett is responsible."
It has been reported that Johnnie disappeared from the Willcox scene, which led writers to speculate that Warren had been avenged. Not so. Johnnie sought the protection of a deputy sheriff, returned to work for Hooker, and according to Allie, Virgil's wife, eventually retired to Redlands, California."
Recent findings show that Johnnie Boyett was not killed by the Earps despite many claims to the contrary, but moved to Texas and is buried there.
Warren Earp is buried in the cemetery (I believe it is called the Pioneer) in Willcox, AZ a short jaunt from the Rex Allen Museum.
A visitor to this page tells me the exact location of Warren Earp's grave is in doubt. When Warren Earp was buried, the location was never marked. This visitor talked with the county corner and a local funeral home. Each told him the location of Warren's grave could be any of four different graves. As with Doc Holliday's headstone, Charles Autobees' headstone, Bloody Knife's headstone and others, it is more of a memorial to a person who made the old west interesting. I always appreciate information in fine tuning these web pages.
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