BLACKFOOT – Celebrate Blackfoot offered an unique visual representation by the Blackfoot Community Players’ Gunfighters Guild demonstrating the shootout at the O.K. Corral. This year’s shootout wasn’t their first brush with bullets and powder–they conducted the last stand of Bonnie and Clyde during last year’s Celebrate Blackfoot.
Rob Cox, Board Member for the Blackfoot Community Players, put the group together and plays the part of Virgil Earp. When asked why he wanted to do this specific scene from American Western History Cox, responded, “I liked the movie and how they portrayed it. It’s the most historically accurate, and closer to reality.” Moments before the shootout started, Cox addressed the onlookers with explaining that those with the red scarves around their waists are the outlaws, and jokingly told the crowd to avoid the rough bunch.
The Earps were the only real lawmen of Tombstone, and had fielded wild threats from the cowboys and cattle rustlers: Ike Clanton, Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, and Billy Claiborne. Historic reports by the Tombstone Nugget, one of the two local newspapers during the time, explain that Ike Clanton had made copious amounts of threats against the Earps, and at different times fought in opposition to the lawmen.
Minutes leading up to the shootout, Sheriff John Behan went down Freemont Street in Tombstone in efforts to diplomatically disarm the bandits. After a short period of time passed, Doc Holliday, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Wyatt Earp made their way to see if Sheriff Behan had achieved what he set out to accomplish. Documentation suggests that the Earps and Holliday misunderstood Behan when he explained that he had already tried to disarm the men. Holliday and the Earps thought Behan had actually achieved this feat and relaxed and holstered their weapons.
Upon arrival at the O.K. Corral, confrontation would commence. Words were exchanged, and two shots began the gunfight that lasted less than a minute. It was at this time where the Blackfoot Community Players began their demonstration.
Virgil (Rob Cox) Earp was recognized for telling the cowboys to “Throw up your arms, I’m here to disarm you,” and at this point Ike Clanton (Chris Jensen) exclaimed that he was not armed as he threw his hands in the air. Shots rang out in quick succession, with historical accounts being fuzzy as to who shot the first shot. It is believed that Virgil Shot Frank McLaury first, who shot at exactly the same time, piercing Virgil’s calf.
It was at this point, the shootout commenced, with Doc (Jacob Cox) Holliday unleashing his double-barreled sawed-off shotgun with an explosion into Tom McLaury’s chest. Shortly after bullets flew, Ike Clanton tried to get into a physical altercation with Wyatt (Al Luce) Earp, and is credited with taking one of Wyatt’s six-shooters. Morgan (Dillon Harrison) Earp was shot in the tussle and so was Doc Holliday. As the gun-smoke settled, only Wyatt Earp escaped unscathed.
Tom and Frank McLaury succumbed to their injuries in the street, and Billy Clanton died after being rushed into a house to treat his wounds.
The western shootout by the Blackfoot Community Players ended in the street, but the history lives on. It is reported in history that Sheriff Behan told Wyatt that he would have to arrest him, which he responded that they had been deceived by the Sheriff, and that he would not be arrested.
Both newspapers in Tombstone offered different accounts of the shootout at O.K. Corral, but following testimony in the courtroom in front of Justice Wells Spicer, it was decided that there was no action to be taken at the time.
With the changes, journalistic liberties, and claims of who said what to whom, the account is all hearsay at best. But, according to the historical documents available, the scene from Tombstone portrayed by the Blackfoot Community Players is believed to be the most historically accurate. The shootout at the O.K. Corral continues to be one of the most debated and controversial actions in Western American History.
The additional cowboys involved in the western shootout were Tyler Stott, Wade Ellis, and Matt Rust. Dillon Dougal played the role of Sherrif John Behan. Catch the Gunfighters Guild with the Blackfoot Community Players at any available chance.