Was Doc Holliday behind gunfight at OK Corral?

Published: Aug. 10, 2017 at 8:27 PM MST|Updated: May. 25, 2018 at 3:15 PM MST
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TOMBSTONE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a legendary part of America's history.

Numerous movies have been made about the incident, each with their own way of telling the tale.

The 30-second gun battle, which pitted Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday against Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne, happened in Tombstone on Oct. 26, 1881.

Two of the Earps were wounded while the McLaurys and Billy Clanton were killed.

History paints the Earps and Holliday, who were lawmen, as the good guys and the others as a band of cattle-rustling outlaws called the Cowboys.

The long-held belief is the Cowboys were mad at the Earps for getting in their way and the shootout was the outcome of the feud.

Terry "Ike" Clanton, a relative of the Clantons, and Joyce Aros, an author and historian, offer a different take.

"The gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as it is so called, started the night before," Terry Clanton said. "Doc Holliday was the catalyst behind the gunfight, not Ike Clanton."

Aros said Holliday may have been involved in the botched robbery of the Benson stagecoach in March 1881.

"Of course, all of this circumstantial and can't be proven," she said. "But the circumstantial evidence is pretty heavy."

Terry Clanton said a known outlaw told his family Holliday was there and played no small role in the bloodshed.

"Bill Leonard told Ike Clanton that if Doc Holliday wasn't there and drunk, nobody would have been killed," Terry Clanton said.

Aros said if Holliday was there for the robbery, the Earps were involved somehow.

"The feeling was if Holliday was involved in it, almost surely the Earps were because these guys were all joined at the hip," she said.

Terry Clanton and Aros both said the McLaurys, Ike Clanton or both knew about Holliday's involvement and were ready to testify against him.

"Doc Holliday was in Tucson and he came back on a stagecoach that night before the O.K. Carroll gunfight because he heard that Ike Clanton was going to blow the whistle on him," Terry Clanton said.

Terry Clanton said an armed Holliday found Ike Clanton in a saloon and threatened him.

"If they would have arrested Doc Holliday, took his gun away from him and threw him in jail for disturbing the peace and carrying a firearm in the city limits, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral never would have happened," Terry Clanton said. "When Ike Clayton walked out of the saloon the Earps told him 'better get your gun Ike, because the next time we see you, we are going to kill you.'"

Aros said Ike Clanton stayed in town and refused to back down.

"Ike stayed around town, he wasn't backing down and he wasn't asking anyone to help him. He was just going to face it," she said.

To read more about Ike Clanton, go HERE. To read more about the Clanton Ranch, go HERE.

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