Saturday, July 3, 2010

Deathday: Mattie Blaylock 1850-1888 Wife of Wyatt Earp

Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock (1850 – July 3, 1888) was the romantic companion of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp (below). Mattie was born in Wisconsin, but raised in Fairfax, Iowa. She ran away from home at the age of sixteen, and made her way down into Kansas by first working as a prostitute in Scott City, then later in Dodge City. She and Wyatt are believed to have met in or around late 1873. Like most of the women associated with the Earp brothers, she worked off and on as a prostitute during their early years together, and the two are believed to have never officially married. In the 1880 United States Census, however, Mattie was listed as Wyatt's wife.

She was said to have suffered from severe headaches, and while in Tombstone, Arizona she became heavily addicted to laudanum, a commonly used opiate and pain killer of the day. She was at first oblivious to Wyatt's affair with Josephine Marcus, but later did have at least two heated altercations with his new romantic interest. Following the March 18th, 1882 assassination of Morgan Earp, she left Tombstone in route to Colton, California with the rest of the Earp family, leaving Wyatt and his youngest brother, Warren, behind to carry on what would later be dubbed the Earp vendetta ride. There, she waited for a telegram from Wyatt for her to return to Tombstone, but it never came. She left Colton in order to return to Arizona, deciding on Pinal City, a town that Mattie and Wyatt had stopped in for a couple of months in 1879 on their way to Tombstone. When the pair had been there three years earlier, it was a booming silver town. Upon Mattie's return, however, the silver boom had died down there and the bulk of the town's itinerant population had moved on. Mattie had planned a return to prostitution in Pinal City, but with most of the prospective clientele gone with the silver, making a decent living there proved difficult.

On July 3, 1888, Mattie took a lethal dose of laudanum together with alcohol. Her death was officially ruled as "suicide by opium poisoning." She is buried in the cemetery at Pinal City, now a ghost town, and located just west of the former cement and mining town of Superior, Arizona.

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