Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

O.K. Corral Still Riles Clantons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

O.K. Corral Still Riles Clantons

Article excerpt

Everyone knows the legend: Wyatt Earp and his posse take on the Clanton gang at the O.K. Corral. The Earp side wins, Wyatt becomes a hero, goes on to glory in several movies and ultimately is immortalized by Henry Fonda and other leading men as daring and toughness incarnate.

It's a story to boil the blood of the Clantons, who sorely resent the depiction of their kin as unwashed cattle rustlers who couldn't shoot fast enough to be the last ones standing. And for the record, there are surviving Clantons, thousands of them.

Now, two Clanton cousins -- a Lake Forest, Calif., accountant and a flamboyant Norco, Calif., actor who loves to dress up in badman garb -- are seeking to restore the family honor.

Between the two, Robert and Terry Clanton are putting the branches back on the family tree, redeeming the Clanton name and telling their side of the O.K. Corral story: The shootout 119 years ago today, they contend, was nothing but an early case of police brutality.

Businessman Robert's interest is in rebuilding kinship connections; he has hired a genealogist to do a complete family history, back to John Clanton of England in 1610.

Terry, 42, loves the romance of it all. He also does occasional acting stints portraying ancestor Ike Clanton. Once a month, he holds Old West meetings in Norco, dressing in the black costumes of 19th century gunslingers, holding liars' contests and reliving the time when his ancestors were known as some of the baddest men in the West.

Yet, through Terry's Web page, Clantongang.com, hundreds of people from across the nation have found their way onto Robert's genealogy lists. From Terry they have learned about the wrong he says was done to the family, first by the Earps, then by history.

TURNING POINT

It's a prideful turning point for a family that has kept a low profile for more than a century. Many Clantons wouldn't admit earlier, even among themselves, that they had any family connection to the infamous shootout in Tombstone, Ariz.

"I didn't know I was related to the O.K. Corral Clantons until I was 38," said Robert Clanton, now 48.

Who could blame them, consider the Hollywood version of the story.

That version goes like this:

Virgil Earp, a deputy U.S. marshal, deputizes his brother Wyatt, a bar owner who also works as a Wells Fargo guard. Along with their brother Morgan and crony John Henry "Doc" Holliday, they head down to a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral.

Their plan: to disarm the unruly Clantons, reputed cattle rustlers, and their cowboy friends, the McLaury boys, Tom and Frank. In an Old West take on gun control, only lawmen could legally carry guns into town, and the cowboys routinely violated that law.

Wearing long, black coats and each standing 6 feet tall, the Earp contingent asks for the cowboys' guns. …

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