Peter, Kenny has laid out the situation well. Believe me, if the Earps had created any problems it would have made the papers. The CITIZEN warned on August 28, 1881, opening day of the festival that the city would see a gathering of "sharpers of all kinds," adding that "thieves, burglars, pick-pockets, and cut throats will be here in large numbers," but the only reports involving the Earps in September and October 1881 relate to their activities as lawmen in Tombstone.
Doc was a "circuit gambler," even while he was in Tombstone, which explains his periodic absences. That means he followed the games. Kate was a bit confused on her chronology, but I have no doubt that he visited the San Augustin Festival. On September 29, the TUCSON STAR reported that "over two hundred people have left Tucson to attend the feast at Magdalena on the 4th proximo, it being the regular annual feast of San Francisco. This includes a number of the sporting fraternity." This is consistent with Doc's movement. He was back in Tombstone at the end of September and left again. He was not in Tombstone with Lou Rickabaugh reopened the refurbished Oriental on October 11, and the EPITAPH had a listed an unclaimed letter for Kate on October 15. The way I reconstruct things, Doc and Kate returned to Tombstone near mid-October and went back to Tucson sometimes about October 19 or 20. Kate says they were in Tucson this time "about four days," whih would be consistent with the testimony that Morgan went to get him shortly after that in time for Doc to return before the confrontation on the night of the 25th.
"The Earp gang" is a post street fight term. It gained wider use during the vendetta and afterwards during the political battles of 1882. With the Earps gone, it became even more commonly used. Believe me, if the Earps had caused any trouble at San Augustin in 1881, the newspapers would have jumped on it like a crow on a June bug at the time, and it would have been presented as an exhibit against the Earps by the TUCSON STAR which launched a crusade against the Earps early in 1882. They were digging up anything they could find against the Earps. If the STAR's editor had had anything against the Earps that had happened in Tucson, they would have used it.
Just days before the San Augustin Festival the papers were reporting that the Top and Bottom Gang had been driven out of Benson. Ed Byrnes was arrested and jailed at Tombstone, but many of the others headed for Tucson. As for the Earps, they had their hands full. They arrested Stillwell and Spence in Septemberand were otherwise occupied in September. In October, they were part of Behan's group chasing Apaches. On October 8, the Benson stage was robbed north of Contention. On October 13, Virgil took Stilwell and Spence to Tucson on federal charges. He returned to Tombstone the next day, but on October 20 he was back in Tucson along with Marshall Williams and John Behan to testify against Stilwell and Spence, which left Wyatt as acting marshal in Tombstone. On October 22, three men escaped from the county jail, and the Earp brothers joined Behan and Breakenridge in the effort to recapture them.
The Earps were in pretty good shape in August 1881. They were not going to mess it up by doing something stupid in Tucson that could damage their credibility in Tombstone. Two years later, people were blaming everything bad that had ever happened in Arizona on "the Earp gang."
However, a few things don’t stack up against the law of chronology. Fiesta de San Agustin - called the “Feast” by the Anglos, was begun every 28th of August to celebrate St. Augustine who is the... more
Hi Kenny When I read this I wondered whether it was one of those old-time tongue in cheek type reports. But if so, it goes over my head, and I think the average Tucson reader would also see it as a... more
And that's advice coming from one who spent 25 of his working years as a reporter and editor. To elaborate: The newspaper may - or may not - have quoted the sheriff accurately. Even so, just because... more
At the feast of 1881 the games of chance are nearly all conducted within the inner court of the main building. Many of the professional gamblers running the numerous gambling booths and venues came... more
Kenny Yes, I believe you. But then I wonder what would be a possible explanation for Johnson making such a public statement, only 2 years later? And in front of many local men who were probably... more
Kenny has it nailed Gary Roberts,Mon Apr 23 06:10
Gary But....why? That is what bugs me. If we are certain the statement is wrong, what is the reason it was said, and who was the source? A blatant transparent lie, or a mistaken third-hand account?... more
by 1884. With the Earps gone, a pattern developed of blaming them for all kinds of things that were never even suggested while they were there. Editorial interests have a way of changing over time. I ... more
Hi Gary (and Butch) I don't reckon you can trust ANYTHING you can read in them now. Yes Gary, I think something can still be learned from this article. I think the historical newspaper coverage that... more
Peter: The Tucson city directory cited in your message can be found in the 1988 Copper State Bulletin, produced by the Arizona State Genealogical Society (ASGS). The ASGS has morphed into the Pima... more
the story is quite true. But I have qualified my thoughts in a post above. While I think it is folly to depend on this one article for the accuracy of the story, I also think it's just as silly to... more
Butch, I don't think this story has been dismissed out of hand. The detailed reporting that Kenny provided and the information I added demonstrates that the circumstances of the San Augustin Festival ... more
Hi Gary I wonder what was considered the "Top and Bottom" gang, could have been conflated with the "Earp gang", a later thing, in the public mind. I guess all these roving and colorful gamblers were... more
As Gary made clear, if it were true the Earp's newspaper enemies at the time would have made the most of it as opposed to what they actually did, which was say nothing at all Never trust the media... more
If you consider the Earp's had their hands in gambling operations, this would of been a lovely target. It seems all the Earp's are tied up with law enforcement efforts that side tracked them. Why... more
http://www.historynet.com/the-gamblers-war-in-tombstone.htm Here is a good article by Robert Jay giving some history of the gambling wars. It seems Doc and the Earp's may have been in Tucson at the... more
The 'top & bottom" gang were essentially in Colorado in 1880, getting run out of Leadville and moving on. Their leader had gone to Dodge City while the bulk of the gang went to Buena Vista and lasted ... more
The festival is 1880 opened on August 27th 1880. The paper sources describe this as basically a gamblers event that lasted 5 to 6 weeks. Tyler is in Tucson and registered at the Palace hotel in time... more
I'd like to see the source for "five or six weeks." However, we're not in consideration of 1880. The Johnson article of March 1884 makes no mistake in that regard. Let's look again: "Two years from... more
The newspaper article I read was an editorial on the fiesta and critical of what it turned into. They characterized it as a large gambling festival that ran for 5 weeks. I will have to go back and... more
Records of 1880 make it easy to elimate the Earps from the Feast that year. Morgan Earp got a shaky start as Wells Fargo messenger from August 1st. His special relationship with the company allowed... more
Reading about the festival and the grounds in Levin Park was interesting. I had no idea the facility was that big and had that much variety. Music, shooting galleries, bowling, gambling etc. Alex... more
And besides all that fandago there was horse racing at the Silver Lake track not far away where they specialized in the 500 yard dash. Masquerade Balls came off all during the year at the Park. Alex... more
Kenny In re-reading this, it seems that it was not Johnson who made this statement, probably just the writer. It is still a curiosity though, I wonder was there any follow-up to this article Regards... more
I opened it up and pulled an except from the Edward Byrnes biography - just a tidbit un-edited: “In the absence of leader Byrnes, taking opportunistic advantage of the “Feast” meant the gang was... more
Kenny: Re "we have the Earps in tombstone", isn't this about the time when Virgil and James were involved in the fracas with McMaster and the suggested failed communication/direction from Tucson... more
Two years from the last Fiesta there was a desperate gang at Levin's park. They proposed to control the entertainment. Among this bad element were the Earps, Holliday and their companions. Mr. Gates... more