Mattie Blaylock Earp: Hidden from history

The recent Wild West auction in Harrisburg, Pa., included a trunk owned by Celia Ann “Mattie” Blaylock, Wyatt Earp’s second wife.

I couldn’t verify its origins, but I wonder if it was the one that surfaced in the 1950s when her nephew read an article about the opening of a new museum in Dodge City, Kansas, and remembered his Aunt Celie’s trunk.

A trunk that once belonged to Mattie Blaylock, Wyatt's common-law wife.
A trunk that once belonged to Mattie Blaylock, Wyatt’s common-law wife.

It contained the bible inscribed to Wyatt from the grateful citizens of Dodge City and photos of a young Wyatt. That’s when the story of Mattie and Wyatt’s relationship emerged. His third wife, Sarah Josephine Marcus (Josie to most of the world and Sadie to the Earps), had suppressed information about Mattie for years. And Wyatt never mentioned her to biographers.

His reluctance stemmed from a twin desire for privacy and a measure of control over his public image. Most historians believe Mattie worked as a prostitute before, during and after her relationship with Wyatt, and she committed suicide several years after they separated in Tombstone.

However, Wyatt also avoided talking about his first wife, Urilla Sutherland, and asked his family not to talk about her publicly. Urilla died of disease or complications from childbirth; the child died, too.

Mattie Blaylock
Mattie Blaylock

We are left to puzzle out his feelings and attitudes from his actions. Shortly after Urilla’s death, he got into more than one scrape with the law and in many ways behaved like a man unmoored by grief. And after he left Mattie, according to Ann Kirschner in “Lady at the O.K. Corral,” he sent her money until the year she died—a sign of regret, guilt, responsibility or perhaps lingering affection?

It’s interesting to note that word of Mattie’s relationship with Wyatt did not come from the Earp camp. I wonder how much longer it would have taken for Mattie to surface if she hadn’t left those mementos in her sister’s care—and whether she did it on purpose so she wouldn’t be forgotten.

3 comments

  1. HI TERRI -If you want the “latest scoop” on “Celia Ann Mattie Blaylock” (who was/were really TWO Child Prostitutes/Wives named Celia AND Mattie Click on either my Facebook Profile at: https://www.facebook.com/blue.brown or Here at: https://www.facebook.com/brownies.p.c.diner/ -You’ll be Amazed by the Tintype I
    have of Both Girls, posing together -& I have posted 2 long known (but long unexplained) images for Comparison. Wyatt’s “Second Wife” was/were, In Reality, his SECOND WIVES! *There’s Lots More -but I’ll let The Images Speak for themselves -BLUE BROWN!

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    • Thanks for the tip! I’m not familiar with that photo — would love to hear where you found it and how you authenticated it. Celia Ann Blaylock left a bit of a paper trail (birth, death and various census records), and I have of course read about Wyatt being arrested in Peoria on a floating brothel with a woman named Sarah/Sally who called herself his wife. Wyatt certainly wasn’t the straight arrow that many movies have made him out to be, and I suspect the truth is much more complex.

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  2. Hi, Terri (!) wOWw- sorry I didn’t get back to you here, till now.. so I’m assuming you’ve visited those links (I remember seeing a comment from you somewhere). I’ve spread the word about My Collection to so many people & places (like This Article about Mattie) that I really can’t manage to get a handle on any kind of “keep track & check back” schedule. I’m a retired guy -& the retirement income makes the idea of Creating a Website (& uploading The Photographs to it) an expense I’m not prepared to maintain for any amount of time. So I created “Brownie’s Photographic Car -& Diner” with the Free FB Pages. The Images don’t get a Wide Viewership there, but I think it’s Important to Share the images in a way that allows for Detailed Comparison with Known Images -& ultimately, Verification, & Discussion. Facebook has restructured these “Public Figure” pages as “Small Businesses” -& I suppose I could Sell Posters of the images, but Not Everyone can recognize them. Sally Heckell (Haspell, Haskell -&etC., her aliases are varied) was an early “Companion & Business Partner” of Wyatt’s during that “Peoria Bummer” time in his life. Have you seen the Photograph I have posted of Her? It’s the Only One I have No Comparison for Verification.. but it Did come with the Original Lot that I entitled “Brownie’s Long Lost Wyatt Earp Image Lot” for it’s preponderance of Earp & Earp Related period photographs. So I Strongly believe it to be Sarah/Sally! I bought the lot on eBay over a period of 3 months, after having recognized the 1’st Image from the lot as Wyatt Earp! the seller’s name was Carol Lakness, a woman who collected 19’th Century Fashion Images. She’s found it almost 40 years ago at a Phoenix, Az. Estate Sale. I was lucky enough to Recognize the People for who they were! -Anyway, I ended-up owning (except for 2 or 3) virtually all of Carol’s Entire lot (whether I recognized everyone in it or not) I figured those might “turn-up” if I researched them thoroughly. So I’d sent-off the money for 1 of the last 3 -& asked her to delay posting the last 2 for a couple of weeks, because I was Moving. I gave her my New Address -& told her I’d be back online in 4 weeks at the most. *I never heard from Carol again. She’d “Parked” a few images on her eBay at High Prices -& they didn’t sell, but were Renewed every 90 days. After a year had passed, I found that Her Son had visited the eBay Community page, asking how he might Close her Account, because.. “..My Mother died a year ago…” so the Phoenix Arizona Estate Sale nearly 40 years ago”” o”is all the “Provenance” we’re going to Get. I rely on known Comparison Images for Comparison. Provenance was designed to Authenticate Artworks, with a “Chain of Possession” -& is neither Applicable nor Necessary with a Portrait Photograph, because Facial Recognition is the Qualifying Factor. Only a Face Blind person would require a Chain of possession as proof. I never forget a face -& I’m not about to deny the Recognition of Visual History to Preserve Provenance.It has No Business with 19’th Century Portrait Photography -Blue!

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