If you ever go to Tombstone, Arizona one thing you DON’T want to do is speculate aloud over who started the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight. Even though the courts found the Earps and Doc Holliday innocent of murder, there is still a lot of controversy over whether Holliday and Morgan Earp fired the first two shots of the historic gunfight… and whether or not that shooting was justified.
The southeast corner of Fremont Street and 3rd Street is where the O.K. Corral, now a major tourist location, still stands. The original gunfight took place in the empty alley north of the O.K. Corral between Fly’s Lodging House and Photographic Studio and the MacDonald Assay House to the west. At 3 P.M. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881 approximately thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds. Wyatt Earp walked away from the gunfight unscathed. Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday sustained minor wounds. Ike Clanton (whose aptly named descendant, Ike Clanton, still lives in Tombstone) and Billy Claiborne ran through the gunfight uninjured. There were three casualties when the fray was finished—Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury all sustained fatal wounds in the gunfight.
While the justification of the shooting is still heavily debated to this day, one thing is certain—Billy Clanton is not resting in his afterlife.
The Clantons and the McLaurys were wealthy cattle farmers. Historically, these men were well-to-do and they dressed as nicely as the Earps are often portrayed as having dressed in modern films. Their hair was kempt and their clothing clean.
The Clantons and the McLaurys were very charismatic and well known throughout Tombstone—so well known that it comes as no surprise that residents claim they still see at least one of them pay visits to Tombstone from time-to-time.
There have been reports of an agitated man fitting the description of a well dressed fellow who fits the description of Billy Clanton pacing back and forth at the corner of Fremont Street and 3rd Street. When he is approached, this man seems to evaporate into thin air. Those who do see him, or rather through him, only momentarily glimpse the fellow before he’s gone. Pedestrians who walk past this corner have also reported the distinct smell of cigar smoke even though no one in the immediate area has been smoking.
The location and accounts of these mysterious sightings could be coincidence… but could they also be connected with Billy Clanton. Might he be frustrated and pacing at the corner where he spent his last moments of life… waiting… for justice to be served at last?
We may never know all the mysteries of Tombstone, Arizona the “Town Too Tough To Die”.
What a great story! And it adds to the history of an already fascinating town. Thanks so much for sharing it here. If it is true that spirits haunt places where their lifetime business was unfinished…Billy Clanton must be determined to remain in Tombstone for eternity.