“I’m your huckleberry”. It’s a phrase many of us are all too familiar with. Anyone who has watched the 1993 Western classic Tombstone, Doc Holliday is a character in which one is appalled with such a cool & collective attitude he presents when pressed with nerve wracking situations. It isn't just him that the story follows but it also follows the events and lives of Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp, Johnny Ringo, William Brocius just to name a few. The real Doc Holliday is claimed to have said this during the time by many people who were present. The documentation of this was made possible by Walter Noble Burns as he was writing his 1928 book “Tombstone”. This truly is the origin of the saying & given his extensive research and interviews with the people of the time, there is little to doubt about it’s credibility.
It truly all began in 1879 when the town of Tombstone was founded. It was all attributed to silver being discovered in the region and as a result many people flocked towards the town & its potential newfound wealth. One faction of people who made it a home as well were none other than an outlaw gang by the name of The Cochise County Cowboys. Two prominent members of this gang were Johnny Ringo & William “Curly Bill” Brocius who would ultimately play a huge part in Wyatt Earp’s life. However as the time progressed on, the rift between them all would only grow deeper and deeper.
This feud produced one of the most famous & talked about shootouts in American Western history, The Gunfight at The O.K. Corral. For this particular shootout the men involved were as listed:
- Cowboys: Billy Claiborne, Ike & Billy Clanton and Tom & Frank McLaury.
- Town Law Enforcement: Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp & Doc Holliday.
During this fight all except Ike Clanton & Billy Claiborne were killed on the Cowboys side however as for the opposition, none of the Earps nor Doc Holliday were killed however many of them sunstained injuries ranging from bruising, bullet grazing and gunshot wounds. None of the injuries were fatal. Strangely in the aftermath some newspapers & many of the townsfolk were sympathetic to the Cowboys so in some aspects the Earps were villainized, however these attitudes were eventually suppressed as the true colors of the Cowboys gang came into full view.
In 1882 the Cowboys as a force were ultimately defeated & in that same year the deaths of Johnny Ringo & Curly Bill came as a moralistic blow to the will to fight for many of them. This came as a direct result of Wyatt Earp’s personal vendetta against them as they were responsible for the death of his younger brother Morgan & the crippling of his brother Virgil. The story is a true and positive example of how good will always triumph over evil and corruption. A lesson for many people to take from all this is that when faced with a decision between wrong & right, be your own huckleberry, and saddle up on the side of justice.