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OK Corral Coroner’s Inquest Found

By Wyatt Earp | April 22, 2010

How freakin’ awesome is this?

A missing handwritten transcript from a coroner’s inquest done after the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral has resurfaced in a dusty box more than 125 years after the most famous shootout in Wild West history.

The document resurfaced when court clerks stumbled on the box while reorganizing files in an old jail storage room in Bisbee, about 20 miles south of Tombstone. Stuffed inside was a modern manila envelope marked “keep” with the date 1881.

Wow, talk about unbeatable security. Taking an irreplaceable document, stuffing it into a manila envelope, and writing “Keep” on it. And people wonder how it got lost? Idiots.

Court officials turned the document over to state archivists on Wednesday. Experts will immediately begin peeling away tape, restoring the paper and ink, and digitizing the pages.

But history buffs said the transcript is enlightening nonetheless, clearing up fuzzy points in the copies and revealing small notes that might not have appeared on the photocopies.

“They were handled by the people of that moment, and they’re the actual artifact that encapsulated that time period,” said GladysAnn Wells, Arizona State Librarian.

I would give anything to take a look at the originals. Never happen, but a man can dream.

The document has been missing for decades — last seen when it was photocopied in the 1960s. The pages include verbatim testimony from eyewitnesses to the shootout.

The document is legible, but the paper has darkened to an amber beer color and is brittle like a potato chip, said Cochise County Court Clerk Denise Lundin. The handwriting can be difficult to read because the court reporter was rapidly taking notes, she said.

Lundin is convinced that somewhere in her courthouse are records of the inquest for Johnny Ringo, another legendary outlaw.

As much as this story excites me – both as a history buff and a blogger who swiped Wyatt’s name – I cannot help but feel really angry at the same time. Far too many people in this country couldn’t care less about American history. That’s fine, since it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But the lackadaisical attitude of people in the business of history is to blame for the loss of these documents.

People should be searching high and low for artifacts like these. They should be cataloging and re-cataloging valuable items in storage. In short, people should treat these articles like they treat their family photos: as the priceless treasures they are.


Topics: Coolness! | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “OK Corral Coroner’s Inquest Found”

  1. USAdmiral Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Simply amazing event. I wish I knew why history was being ignored.

  2. Jon Brooks Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Glad you found that Wyatt. Hmm I wonder if the Clantons or McClaury’s were involved in its hiding? LOL
    Although both were good movies I favor ..Wyatt Earp (with Costner and Quaid)..over Tombstone (wtih Russell and Kilmer) although Kilmer was a better Holliday. Costner when he isn’t off the deep end in Sci-Fi does excellent westerns, not an Eastwood but close.

  3. Dannytheman Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Much better handwriting than I would have suspected. How cool is this?? Pretty damn cool! Should be in a museum somewhere on display where people can see it.

  4. Mrs. Crankipants Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Every minute those documents spent in that manilla envelope, the acid from the paper was destroying them. A lot of late 19th century paper was made from wood pulp, making it a feast for bugs. Factor in the heat and humidity, it’s just bad all around. This kind of thing makes me insane.

  5. Wyatt Earp Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 9:41 am

    USAdmiral – And in Arizona, for cripes’ sake!

    Jon – I love Tombstone. One of my all-time favorites. Wyatt Earp is good, but Tombstone is better in my opinion.

    Danny – Agreed. They should put it back in Tombstone so tourists can take a gander.

    Mrs. Crankipants – Me, too. It’s just abject laziness, and shouldn’t be tolerated, especially with something so important.

  6. Jon Brooks Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Another cool story is the clearing of the Sheriff who shot John Wesley Harden. Wild Bill Hickok’s statement about Harden was..”The only man I was ever afraid of”. The grand jury had to determine whether he was shot thru the back of the head, as per his friends accounts or from the front, thus a fair fight, as per the sheriff. Their finding was thus: If the bullet entered above his left eye and exited out the back of Mr. Hardens head..good shooting. If the bullet entered the back of Mr. Hardens head and exited over his left eye..good judgement.

  7. proof Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    As I recall my history, Ensign Checkov was shot first, but then he was transported back to the Enterprise!

  8. Picky Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Way of topic, but proof started it:

    Something that’s always bothered me about Star Trek: If they “store” your pattern in the transporter buffer, and you beam down to some planet and get shot, why couldn’t they transport you back to the ship and have the transporter “delete” whatever info doesn’t match your stored pattern (like the knife wound you just got)? Just asking

    And yes, I know it’s not real.

  9. Wyatt Earp Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Jon – Hell, that’s win-win!

    Proof – Oh, for Pete’s sake!

    Picky – Wow, it’s like Nerd Heaven here. Now leave me alone, I have to go watch this week’s episode of “V.”

  10. Jon Brooks Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I have heard on boot hill is a tombstone that says:

    Here lies Les Moore
    2 shots from a .44
    No Les
    No Moore

  11. Ingineer66 Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    At least it was in south Arizona where the humidity is like
    3% most of the time. That is why they store all the airplanes down there.

  12. RT Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Wow! There have been other important written artifacts found hidden/lost, lately. Amazing.

  13. Old NFO Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Wyatt, problem is people don’t care… sigh…

  14. Loaded Dice in Vegas Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Wyatt, Fringe is on tonight and I’ll be able to fantasize about Olivia. I would fantasize about Anna (on V) but I’m afraid she’d finish me off.

  15. Rick Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    History is not politically correct.So they quit teaching it.
    I have leaned more history after leaving school,than I did in school.

  16. Wyatt Earp Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Jon – Correct. I’ve been there.

    Ingineer66 – We spent time in Tucson with friends a few years back. In August. You could actually cook an egg on my face.

    RT – The Lincoln Inaugural photos, for one.

    Old NFO – Yeah, and I don’t know enough to get into the business.

    LDIV – But you’d die with a smile on your face. Woman is unbelievably hot.

    Rick – As did I.

  17. Nicki Jerome Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Hi Wyatt

    Nice to know your still alive and kicking in the good ‘ol USA.

    Point definately taken re history, we live in Portsmouth England and cant get enough of the history, the other half is a full blown history buff anything and everything from the Indian Wars, to gunfighters and Custer. More books than I could ever read in a life time. He took me to Tombestone last year for my first visit (he has friends there) I LOVED IT. We live by the sea and its usually raining over here damn hot out there. GOD BLESS AMERICA I SAY, and its great to hear that some people ARE keeping history alive !

  18. Wyatt Earp Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Nicki – I went to Tombstone in 2005. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. Thanks for stopping by, and stay dry over there!