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Wyatt Earp, gunfighter and chef

Jeff Cheek —

Wyatt Earp lived the kind of life teenage boys can only — dream about. He is defined by the years he spent as a lawman from 1873-82, — but the rest of his life is equally fascinating. He was also a stagecoach — driver, buffalo hunter, gambler, saloon keeper, real estate agent and — prospector. Strangest of all, he was also a gourmet chef for wild game.

He was born in Illinois March 19, 1848. His father was — a cavalry trooper in the Mexican-American War. Wyatt was named after his — commanding officer.

The family moved to Iowa in 1850. During the Civil War — his brothers James and Virgil left to join the Union Army. Wyatt ran away — from home to volunteer. His father caught the would-be teenage recruit — and dragged him home. This may have been the reason his dad bought a ranch — near San Bernadino and moved his family to California in 1864.

Wyatt worked as a stagecoach driver for a few years then — went back east to marry his sweetheart, Urilla Sutherland, in Lamar, Mo. — on January 10, 1870. Less than a year later, "Rilla" died of typhoid fever. — It was such a painful experience that Earp did not marry his long time — girlfriend, Josephine Marcus, until 1896.

Meanwhile, he worked as a professional hunter, supplying — meat for Union Pacific railroad crews in Wyoming. In 1873 he drifted into — Kansas, where boomtowns were sprouting like mushrooms, shipping Texas — longhorns back to eastern markets.

In the next six years, Wyatt Earp won an enduring reputation — as a tough, fearless lawman, bringing law and order to wild cow towns — like Wichita, Ellsworth, and Dodge City, Kan. In 1879 he moved to another — wide open boomtown, Tombstone, Ariz. He was both a peace officer and gambler. — Tombstone is the site of the famous Earp-Clanton Gunfight at OK Corral.

In 1882 he and his girlfriend "Josie" left Tombstone for — San Diego, where he dabbled in real estate. They were married in 1896. — The Earps joined the Gold Rush to Alaska in 1898. Wyatt found no gold — but he got rich as a saloon keeper. They returned home in 1905. Earp invested — most of his Alaska bonanza in more real estate.

They could have retired on their investments but that — life was too tame for the restless spirit of Wyatt Earp. He built a cabin — in Vidal, Calif., and spent the rest of his life prospecting in the Mojave — Desert. The long hot summers were spent in their comfortable home in Los — Angeles. Earp was still active until the end of his life. He died Jan. — 13, 1929 at the age of 80. His body was cremated and the ashes buried — in the Marcus family tomb in Colma, Calif. His loyal, supportive "Josie" — joined him in 1944.

A newspaper reporter, hoping to get a headline, once asked — him what was the best shot he had ever made. Instead of recalling one — of his famous gunfights, Earp replied, "There is a pond just north of — Tombstone, where flocks of doves fly in to drink in the evening. I once — got nine doves with just one shot."

Unfortunately, I have never tried Wyatt Earp's recipe — for cooking these birds.


10 doves, cleaned and split

4 tablespoons butter or beef suet

1 medium cabbage, cut into eighths

6 carrots

1 cup cooked Lima beans

1 large onion, diced

1 teaspoon sage


Brown doves in butter or beef suet, transfer to cooking — pot. Add vegetables and spice, salt and pepper to taste. Cover with water — and simmer 60-75 minutes. Remove dove pieces, flank with vegetables and — serve.