Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mattie Earp's Gravesite Dedication

February 17, 2013
Yesterday, my production manager Robert Ray and his wife Bea and I drove out to Superior for the dedication of a cemetery fence we—The True West Preservation Society—helped finance.  This is the Pinal graveyard where Mattie Earp, Wyatt's second wife, is buried. There has been vandalism and outright stealing at the site for a long time.

 The few graves remaining, like this one, are few and far between. That is Picket Post Mountain in the background.

One of the locals, Manny Guzman (who has a relative buried in the cemetery) told me Mattie Earp originally had a headstone but in the early 1960s "someone from Tombstone stole it." This is so rude, but so typical. It's the reason there is a cage over Billy the Kid's grave (and they still got inside!)

Here is a photo of Manny and the Guzman family in front of the new sign marking the cemetery.

That's Manny in the cowboy hat. The Guzman family has lived in the Superior area for five generations. Names to follow.

The stealing of Mattie's headstone in the early sixties would be about the time that John Gilchriese and another researcher (Robert Mullin?) discovered the coroner's inquest that Wyatt's second wife had committed suicide after declaring that Wyatt Earp had ruined her life. Up to that time hardly anyone knew about her and the discovery caused a stir among Earp fans because of the salacious details of the report and remember, this was just after The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp TV show, and there were some who predicted that Wyatt Earp would never have another movie made about him (how wrong they were on that point!).

Mattie died in 1888 after Wyatt had abandoned her and taken up with Josephine Marcus.

This gravestone was recently added and according to the Forest Service is not in the exact location of her grave (they are keeping it secret for obvious reasons).

"I went in and saw by the position that she was lying in that something was wrong. I lit a light and went up to the bed and looked at her and her arms and face were covered with black spots. I suppose she had been taking more laudanum and had taken too much and was dead or dying. I felt her pulse and found they weren't beating. I asked Beeler what she had been taking and he said he poured her some laudanum and she had taken the whole bottle."

Coroner: "What is the name of the deceased, if you know?"

"Mattie Earp."

Coroner: "Did you hear the deceased threaten her own life?"

"I have. Earp, she said, had wrecked her life by deserting her and she didn't want to live."
—T.J. Flannery, 30, a laborer from Pinal, Arizona Territory