September 10, 1959
"The Earp Family Arrives Here by Covered Wagon"
By Mrs. Don Turner
In the fall of 1892, three little old fashioned covered wagons drawn by teams of mules slowly wended their way into the Indian territory.
Mrs. W. A. Earp was the driver of one of the quaint little conveyances, while her husband drove one and her brother, Henry Wright, who was also coming to make his home in the new territory, drove the last of the wagons.
Riding in the wagon with Mrs. Earp were their five children, wide eyed with excitement as they scanned the wooded hillsides for traces of the painted Indians of which they had heard so much.
Mary Francis Wright, (Mrs. W. A. Earp) daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Martin Wright, was born August 5 1862 near Ravanie, Mo. She was married to W. A. Earp January 1, 1884 at Limeville, Nebraska where they homesteaded in the lime hills.
Life had not been easy in these hills and it had been difficult for this couple to get a start in life. They had heard so much of the opportunities that the new territory had to offer that they decided to risk their whole future in this wild and unsettled country.
They brought everything that they could stack in the three covered wagons and one brisk autumn day started out for their new home.
The trip was tiresome as the little wagon jogged along for six weeks over rough muddy roads, when (which) had been traveled but very little.
On their way into the strange new country the Earp family were ever conscious of the Indians and were always on the alert. One night they came upon an Indian camp and after much deliberation they decided to spend the night they. They found the Indians nice and friendly. Nevertheless, Mrs. Earp’s brother, Henry, assumed a very protective attitude and eager to show his bravery, jumped up in the back of the wagon, waved a hatchet and yelled for the Indians to come on and he would chop off their noses.
Another amusing incident happened as they were crossing the plains of Kansas. They had brought a hay burner along to use for cooking, but they ran out of hay so had nothing for fuel. Finally they came upon a house so decided to ask the owner if they might cook a meal on their stove. Earp and his wife’s brother, Henry, knocked at the door and when the lady of the house opened it they asked her if they might do some cooking on her stove. The lady said “Oh sure, come right in and cook anything you want”. They were pleased no end, but when they informed her that they would have to get the wife and children, she said “that’s different. No you can’t cook on my stove”.
Mrs. Earp chuckled as she told the story and added, “as the modern generation would phrase it, that was quite a switch”.
The only time that they were slowed up for any length of time was when their colt got confused and followed some travelers in the opposite direction. Even though they “hated like sin” to have to go back and hunt the colt there seemed to be no other alternative so back they went. They were afraid that they might have trouble convincing the travelers that the colt was theirs, but they were very cooperative and they took their colt and went merrily on their way back to join their family.
They arrived in Guthrie shortly after the run and they knew that they would have to be on the lookout for a claim that they could buy since they had arrived too late to stake one.
A stillborn child was born to them shortly after their arrival.
The Earp family spent the first winter in Guthrie, but in the spring they were fortunate in being able to locate a claim that they might acquire for a proper trade. They traded a team of mules, a wagon and a set of harness for the relinquishment of the claim on 160 acres of land five miles northwest of Stroud.
The claim was located between Oak Valley and Salt Creeks schools and at some time or other the Earp children attended both schools.
Mrs. Earp smiled with pride as she told us that they had always had plenty to eat even though they had earned their living the hard way. According to her, children amount to a lot more if they all have a few duties to perform. She said that she never allowed her children to idle all of their time away.
There was a touch of sentimentalism in Mrs. Earp’s voice as she described their first little home in the Indian territory. It was a one-room log structure and this one room served as a kitchen, dining and living room for the family and also a bedroom for Mr. and Mrs. Earp. There was a ladder that led to the attic room which served as sleeping quarters for the children.
Mrs. Earp said that they didn’t consider themselves crowded in the least and she said that she sometimes wondered if their close association didn’t make them love each other as a family even more.
In later years Earp became interested in registered horses and jacks. At one time he owned some of the best known blood lines and most high spirited horses in the middle west.
Mrs. Earp told of the time that he paid $700 for a mare. “It seemed like such a huge sum of money at that time” said Mrs. Earp, “that it almost took my breath away. But she smiled with pride when she told of the wonderful colts that they raised and sold.
Mr. and Mrs. Earp later moved on a five acre tract on the “old trail” where they lived until Earp’s death in 1924. In 1928 Mrs. Earp moved into Stroud, where she has since made her home.
She loves to attend services at her church and has played a big part in the building and maintaining of the Church of God in Stroud.
Mrs. Earp has 11 children living. Her children are, Mrs. Coy Miller, Chandler; Otto Earp, Stroud; Mrs. Ina Collier, Shamrock; Varnie Earp, Chandler; Early Earp, Sparks; Hughie Earp, Stroud; Mrs. Ona Taylor, Oklahoma City; Oba Earp, Sparks; Mrs. Ora Hensley, Stroud; John Earp, Midlothian; and Claude, who now lives on the home place. Mrs. Earp now makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. Ora Hensley in Stroud.
Through the goodness of her heart Mrs. Earp took a nephew, Kenneth Earp*, when he was only two weeks old and reared him as her own. He now makes his home in Dallas, Texas.
*Note: Kenneth was not a nephew but a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Earp.