The Clantons and the McLaury’s - The O.K. Corral By: Sue Eckhoff, Grundy County Heritage Museum
July 19, 2013
Billy Clanton, and Frank and Tom McLaury have three of the most famous graves at Tombstone’s Boot Hill Cemetery. They are most known for being on the losing end of the fight at the OK Corral. The legend of the thirty-second gunfight on October 26, 1881 is one that made the town of Tombstone, and the men involved famous. The feud between the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and the McLaury’s reached its dramatic point and bloody conclusion on October 26, 1881. When the smoke cleared after the six-shooters and shotguns were fired, three men lay dead in the street, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton. The Clantons and McLaurys were ranchers, who unfortunately stole much of the livestock they owned. Their thievery ways kept them in constant trouble with Tombstone’s law enforcement, but when Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp arrived on the scene, eventually becoming the town sheriff and deputies respectively, they vowed to bring order to the territory. It was just a matter of time before they would be forced to deal with the notorious cowboys. Wyatt Earp particularly disliked the Clantons and the Clantons and McLaurys equally resented the Earps and Doc Holliday for interfering in their business affairs. On the morning of October 26, 1881, word reached Wyatt that Ike Clanton and his cohorts were in Tombstone threatening to “shoot an Earp”. The rustlers and lawmen spent most of the afternoon antagonizing one another verbally and physically until by two o’clock, a street fight seemed inevitable. The Earps and Holliday had heard that Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury were armed and waiting for them at the OK Corral. Virgil Earp led the way to the cowboys with the intention of disarming the men. Wyatt, Virgil, Doc and Morgan wall walked four abreast down the street. When they reached the stable the Clanton gang was waiting for them. The men stood a mere six feet apart when the bullets started flying. Wyatt shot Frank McLaury in the stomach and killed him. Ike panicked and ran off. Billy Clanton was hit in the chest and wrist. Doc Holliday unloaded his weapon into Tom McLaury’s right side. With the exception of Wyatt, the Earps and Doc sustained a few non-life threatening injuries. Two days after the gun battle, friends and sympathizers of the Clantons gathered on Main Street of town to join the funeral procession for the McLaury boys and Billy Clanton. After their bodies had been laid out in silver trimmed caskets, they were then displayed in the window of the local hardware store, then transported to the cemetery in glass sided hearses, accompanied by a brass band and a procession of mourners carrying signs that read “Murdered on the Streets of Tombstone”. Ice Clanton vowed revenge for the murders of Billy, Tom and Frank. Two months after the gunfight at the OK Corral, Morgan was gunned down while playing pool. Virgil was permanently wounded by a shotgun blast that shattered his arm. Billy Clanton, and Frank and Tom McLaury were buried at Tombstone’s Boot Hill.
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