A Connection to Wyatt Earp

When I was in school & had to do a genealogy project, I asked my Grandmother for information on the family. I remember she said we were related to Wyatt Earp & Daniel Boone. This made sense because there are Boone and Earp ancestors on my Dad’s side of the family, however our Earp’s spell their name, Erp. Grandma did not have the information that made the connection to either of the famous men. Part of the fun of genealogy is to find a famous ancestor. As of right now, I still don’t have the definitive connection to Daniel Boone, but I did find the family lines that connected to Wyatt Earp.

One day several years ago, I made a chance discovery at my local library. There is a genealogy wing at the library & even though most of my research is not from this locality, I check the library resources from time to time as there are several items available from other states. I was getting ready to leave the area and passed by the desk & saw the shelf of “New Books.” One of the books was a large volume, The EARP Family in America, by Sharron Studebaker Spencer and Irmalee Earp Williams. It was a pretty in-depth work taking the Earp family back to the earliest Irish immigrant, Thomas Earp, Jr. This book gave the full connection from my direct Erp ancestors to the relatives of Wyatt Earp. Of course, I contacted the author and purchased the book to add to my own reference library.

So Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (1848-1929) was a famous figure, best known for his exploits with his brothers as law men and gamblers in the “Wild West.” The most recognized incident is the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” between Wyatt & his brothers and the Clanton brothers, which took place in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. He has become a larger-than-life character with stories of his life portrayed in movies and TV shows through the years.

Wyatt was born in Monmouth, Warren County, IL and died in Los Angeles, CA. His parents were Nicholas Porter Earp (1813-1907) & Virginia Ann Cooksey (1821-1893). Going back farther on the paternal side, Nicholas’ father was Walter Earp (1787-1953); Walter’s father was *Philip (ca 1755-ca 1833); then William (ca 1729-ca 1778); then Joshua (ca 1705-ca 1751); then John (ca 1680-1744); then Thomas Earp, Jr (ca 1656-1720).

Going forward from Wyatt Earp’s ancestors to connect to my direct line:

  • Thomas Earp, Jr. (ca 1656-1720)
  • John Earp (ca 1680-1744)
  • Joshua Earp (ca 1705-ca 1751)
  • William Earp (ca 1729-ca 1778)
  • *Josiah Earp (1761-1844)
  • Singleton Erp (ca 1802-ca 1886)
  • Allen Erp (1826-1885), my GGG Grandfather

Wyatt’s great-grandfather, Philip and Allen’s grandfather, Josiah, were brothers. They were both born in Maryland & fought in the Revolutionary War. Both families moved a few times. Philip spent most of his life in North Carolina and Virginia. Josiah finally settled in Pulaski County, KY, which is where his son, Singleton, raised his family.

One question I don’t have a good answer for is why some families retained the spelling “Earp” and some used “Erp.” Singleton Erp’s name is spelled both ways in different census schedules. Allen Erp is listed in the 1860 census as not being able to read or write, perhaps this has something to do with the spelling of the name—using the simplest spelling. Regardless, I’m glad I was able to find the connection to Wyatt Earp so when someone asks if there was anyone famous in the family I can answer quickly. Now all I have to do is find the proof one way or another for the Boone connection.

© MJM 2016

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