Wyatt Earp History Page

Wyatt Earp

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 Flops For Bob Paul In 1880 Election
And Resigns Deputy Position

    It was generally known in Arizona that Pima County was to be split up to form new counties in early 1881.  One of the counties that was to be formed by this split was Cochise County and it would include Tombstone.  Wyatt Earp and his family began to support Bob Paul's effort to win the Pima County Sheriff's position in November 1880.  They did this even though Sheriff Charles Shibell, Paul's opponent, had hired Wyatt as a deputy.  It is likely that Wyatt made a political move in supporting Paul because many believed that Paul would win the election.  By supporting Paul, Wyatt would have been in a good position to be Paul's deputy in Tombstone, and would therefore have been in an even better position to be named the first sheriff of the proposed and soon to be formed Cochise County -- a very lucrative position.

Unfortunately, Bob Paul did not initially win the office in a closely contested election. However, Paul would appeal the vote results based on the San Simon returns and other locations, and would eventually be named Pima County Sheriff a few months later.   Nonetheless, following the election, Wyatt Earp resigned as Shibell's deputy. It is very likely that Shibell had asked for his resignation due to Wyatt's support of Bob Paul.  Wyatt's letter of resignaton, dated November 9, 1880, read:

"I have the herewith resign the office of Deputy Sheriff of Pima County, Respectfully, [signed] Wyatt S. Earp."

Ironically, the November 10, Arizona Daily Star, was not aware that Earp had resigned, and commented: "Wyatt Earp, one of Tombstone's most vigilant officers, was in town yesterday." In the same issue the Star noted: "Sheriff Shibell has appointed Johnny Behan as deputy sheriff for Tombstone. A most excellent selection.



Your host is Steve Gatto, author of The Real Wyatt Earp (Edited by Neil Carmony) (2000), Johnny Ringo (2002), Curly Bill, Tombstone's Most Famous Outlaw (2003).  Steve's latest work, Hurled Into Eternity, The Story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has not yet been released.

Portions of the text appearing on this site come from the above books.
"bravery and determination were requisites, and in every instance proved himself the right man in the right place."  Tombstone Epitaph