You may wonder if the Earps really were in Nome in 1900, as my book Quicksilver to Gold suggests. They were.
Wyatt Earp was most famous for his participation in the O. K . Corral gunfight in Tombstone. His vivacious wife Josephine came to Tombstone as a member of a Gilbert and Sullivan traveling troupe, and one person called her “long on daring but short on decorum.” Wyatt and Josephine led a long life together after that event. They split their time between California and gold rushes around the West, Wyatt sometimes making their living in gambling saloons. They followed the Klondike Gold Rush, spending time in Rampart and St. Michael. Then they built the Dexter Saloon in Nome, Alaska in 1899, with Charlie Hoxie. Josie’s brother Nathan joined them at one point.
As I describe in my novel, the Dexter was one of the nicer establishments in Nome, with mirrors and draperies from San Francisco, and polished wood panels and wallpaper on the walls. The Earps met many famous people in Nome including Jack London, Rex Beach, and a young Herbert Hoover. Wyatt was arrested for participating in a fight, but released. Josie helped with relief work after a storm destroyed much of the town. I enjoyed weaving these facts into the plot of Quicksilver to Gold.
The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome has great articles from the time period and cool artifacts from the Dexter Saloon. There are many books about the Earps. My favorite is Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller. I recommend it if you’d like to learn more about Wyatt and Josie and the adventurous life they led.
I’ll be giving a talk about the Nome gold rush at 7 pm on Sept. 4th at the Loussac library in Anchorage, AK. Stop by if you’re in town.