The Hat That Makes the Lawman
Wyatt Earp is best known for his stints as a lawman in Dodge City and Tombstone, but he made his presence felt in many other Western towns. Before moving on to Dodge he lived in Wichita, Kansas. On May 27, 1874, he was arrested there for fighting. That didn’t stop Wichita Marshal Michael Meager from hiring him as a policeman on April 21, 1875. On Dec. 15, 1875, Earp arrested a drunk who had $500 in his pocket. The officer turned in the money, which earned him the phrase of the Wichita Beacon . “There are but few other places where that $500 roll would ever have been heard from,” the newspaper stated. The next spring, however, Wyatt was arrested for a pre-election altercation with William Smith, who was running for city marshal. Incumbent Meagher was reelected, but on April 2, 1876, the new city council dismissed Wyatt from the force.
This hat photo, now in the William I. Koch Collection, was likely taken during Wyatt’s time in Wichita. The caption for the photograph in the 2019 book "A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told" __ says: “This photo was taken c. 1874, while Wyatt was at Wichita, Kan. Some believe the photo is actually of Virgil Earp. As young men they were strikingly similar in appearance.”
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