Continuing on with my California trip, I finally visited a grave I knew had existed for a long time. I just never knew the whole story. Why was Morgan Earp killed in Tombstone, Arizona but buried in Colton, California? It took a trip to Hermosa Cemetery in Colton and then to the Library in the same town, but I found the answer!
I used to pass this Cemetery on my way to work, years ago. I had heard the rumor that “one of the Earp Brothers was buried here.” It just didn’t interest me 35 years ago. I had other interests ~ my job and two children to raise as a single mother.
Since I’m visiting my son in the area, I mentioned my desire to see this. . . and would you believe it, he’d been there and knew exactly where it was! Thursday we loaded my grandson in the car and took off to pay our respects to Morgan S. Earp.
First a little background about the Earp Brothers.
We’ve all heard about the shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona and know that the Earp Brothers were involved. We hear the most about Wyatt. There were no Earps killed in that famous event in October of 1881, however, a vendetta assassination did take Morgan’s life. They missed Wyatt who was also a target in March of 1882.
Morgan’s wife was in Colton, California at the time, and Morgan’s body, dressed in Doc Holliday’s suit, was placed in a casket, loaded on a train and accompanied by his older brother, Virgil, was carried to Colton for burial. He was first buried in the old cemetery west of Colton. In 1892 he was reinterred in the Hermosa Cemetery, where the body remains today.
Virgil stayed in Colton and was the first Marshall of the city when it was incorporated in 1887. He held the position until he resigned in 1889. He traveled north and is buried in Portland, Oregon. Wyatt is buried in San Mateo, California and the oldest Earp brother, James, is buried in San Bernardino, California.
I am enjoying these “Old West” Cemeteries I’m finding as I travel from family member to family member! Tomorrow I head to Escondido in the North County area of San Diego County.
Mother’s expecting me, so I can’t visit too many of them. . . .
- Alfred Henry Lewis. The Sunset Trail, New York: A.L. Burt Company, Publishers, Fourth printing 1906, pages 352-353.
- Hazel E. Olson. “As The Sand Shifts” in Colton, California, Rialto, California, The Taylor Print Shop, 1989, page 169.
- Larry Sheffield. Images of America, Colton, Charleston, S.C., Arcadia Publishing, 2004, pages 29-40.