Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 22, 2018

OK Corral revisited

By David Hotle

I can’t watch the movie “Tombstone” without thinking of Ed and Pam Hartsock of rural Washington.
I had the pleasure of interviewing both of them just shy of two years ago on a very interesting hobby they have. They regularly travel to the town of Tombstone, Arizona, to re-create one of the most compelling incidents of the old West — the gunfight at the OK Corral. When I interviewed Ed, he said the event they attend is called El Dorado Days and includes a re-creation of the gunfight.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, they are probably there right now. The anniversary of the gunfight was yesterday. They are both probably dressed in what Ed calls their “Hollywood cowboy” outfits and playing along with the other people who make the journey to Tombstone to celebrate this piece of history. A longtime student of the history of the old West, Ed explained to me that most cowboys didn’t carry their guns in quick-draw holsters as movies and TV would lead people to believe. Many carried their guns in a pocket or in their bedroll. With horses being one of the main modes of transportation at the time, a quick-draw holster would give too many opportunities for the gun to fall out on the trail.
For those of you who don’t know, on Oct. 26, 1881, at about 3 p.m., a long-simmering feud between outlaw cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury and their rivals, lawmen Marshal Virgil Earp, and deputies Wyatt and Morgan Earp and “Doc” Holiday boiled over.
Technically, the gunfight had taken place six doors down from the OK Corral. It was over in about 30 seconds and Billy Clanton and both the McLaurys were killed. Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday were wounded. Despite having bragged he would kill the Earps, Ike Clanton ran when the shooting started. A lot more information exists about the actual incident, and it is a fun read. Check it out sometime.
The incident, over 130 years old, has drawn the interest of many people. There have been books, plays, artworks and movies made about the gunfight. In fact, there was a mathematical model of the gunfight published in the Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society in 1998.
Imagine how great it must be to get to step into the past and see the events — even if it is a re-creation — unfold in front of you. I hope Ed and Pam are enjoying themselves on the historic streets of Tombstone. I have been to Civil War re-inactments and mountain man rendezvous in the past, but seeing a re-creation of the gunfight where it actually occurred has to be amazing.
Having seen how people in Washington value the rich history of the area, I can imagine the same is true for Tombstone. I would imagine that is one festival that is done right.