Rusty Earp will never forget the Oct. 26 date of the Gunfight at OK Corral. By a strange coincidence, it happens to be Rusty’s birthday. Wyatt Earp has no direct descendants because the mother of the only child credited to him died before the baby was born. But the Earp name was to continue through his siblings with Rusty being a scion of the line. He took a few minutes this week to sit on his front porch at the Patrick Street Inn he shares with his wife, Linda, and answered a few questions about his illustrious ancestor.
The name Earp doesn’t appear to be very common, so it would be simple to conclude that you are related to the famous lawman. What is your connection to Wyatt?
“Wyatt Earp’s daddy is a fourth great-uncle to me. We know that through DNA. There is a lady who lives in Breckinridge who told me about a cousin living in Denton. He is a direct descendent of John Earp, the original Earp, who came from England in 1674 and started the Earp clan. The man in Denton has documented that and had his DNA done. I took a DNA test, and we match.”
The name Earp is almost synonymous with Tombstone, but they have strong ties to Texas, too. How did your side of the family get here?
“They all originated in Baltimore. Some came down south. My side came down through the Carolina’s and Alabama and then into Texas. They were here in Texas when it was still a Republic.
“My grandfather was born in Georgetown in 1893, and he met Wyatt Earp when he was nine years old. Wyatt had come to Texas and was visiting family close to Georgetown.”
What is the general reaction from people when they hear you have that famous name?
“My wife and I went to Tombstone about five years ago. One evening we were driving, and I got pulled over for a license plate lamp being out. The police officer got my driver’s license, and he didn’t believe it until he called it in.
“We went to the Crystal Palace Saloon which is now a restaurant. There is quite a wait to get in. When I told them my name for the waiting list, they didn’t believe me. So I had to show them my driver’s license. After that, you talk about the ‘royal treatment.’ We were treated very nicely.”