Wyatt Earp spent much of the 1870s and early 1880s developing a reputation as an effective lawman in Kansas Cowtowns and of course in Tombstone, Arizona. But he soon began doing double duty in pursuit of his other calling as a businessman. “Capitalist” is how he listed his occupation in the San Diego and San Francisco city directories in the 1880s and 1890s. Indeed, well into the early part of the 20th Century, operating gambling concessions, saloon keeping and mining were considered honorable business pursuits in the west.
1870-1871: Constable. Lamar, Missouri. His father Nicholas Porter Earp served as Justice of the Peace.
1873: Possibly a Policeman. Ellsworth, Kansas. Wyatt’s exact role is not clear but it is likely he was involved in the arrest of gunman Ben Thompson.
1874-1876: Policeman. Wichita, Kansas. Wyatt serves with distinction as a lawman.
1876-1879: Policeman, Assistant City Marshal, on an intermittent basis.Dodge City, Kansas. Wyatt gains notoriety as a lawman when he is mentioned in the National Police Gazette magazine.
1880: Deputy Sheriff. Pima County, Arizona Territory. Wyatt comes to Tombstone with a reputation and soon gets a badge appointed by Pima County Sheriff, Charlie Shibell.
1881-1882: Deputy U.S. Marshal. Arizona Territory. After the attempted murder of his brother Virgil, Wyatt is appointed Deputy US Marshal by Crawley Dake.
1884: Deputy Sheriff.Kootenai County,Idaho.Wyatt, along with older brother Jim Earp, breaks up a gun battle by literally walking between the parties and joking about their poor marksmanship.
1902: Deputy U.S. Marshal. Tonopah, Nevada.
1880-1882: Tombstone, Arizona Territory. Arriving in the Tombstone with plans to open a stage coach business, Wyatt thinks better of it due to the fierce competition between the existing stage companies owned by J.D. Kinnear and Company, and Ohnesorgen and Walker. He instead owns gambling concessions at the Oriental and other saloons, and also water rights and mining interests.
1883: Gunnison, Colorado. Following his “Vendetta Ride” Wyatt fled Arizona and sojourned in Colorado while he figured out his next moves. While there he ran a gambling concession.
1884: Eagle City/Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Operates the White Elephant Saloon and builds a stage road.
1885: Aspen, Colorado. Partner in the Fashion Saloon.
1886-1890: San Diego, California. Operates saloons, gambling concessions and racing horses. According to his wife, Josephine, horses were Wyatt’s first love.
1890-1896: San Francisco, California. Owns and manages racing horses and gambles. Wyatt described these as the happiest years of his life.
1897-1900: Nome, Alaska: Operates the Dexter Saloon and gambling concessions. Winter months are spent in San Francisco or Seattle.
1900: Seattle, Washington. Operates gambling concessions while gambling was illegal.
1901: Nome Alaska: Wyatt and Josephine return to Alaska for the last time. In Alaska the Earps make a small fortune. But they don’t hold onto it for long. Wyatt’s bad investments and loans and Josephine’s gambling obsession take a toll on their finances.
1902: Tonopah, Nevada. Wyatt operates “The Northern” saloon.
1903-1929: Los Angeles, California. Using Los Angeles as his home base, Wyatt lives his remaining years operating his “Happy Day” copper mine near Vidal, CA during the winter months. He still gambles, does some consulting for the early motion picture industry and works sometimes as a detective or special policeman. By the mid 1920s he finally gets serious about telling his life story. With no pension payments, and no savings, Wyatt and Josephine live out most of their last years in near poverty.