The Earps Invade Southern California (Hardcover)

Bootlegging Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and the Old Soldiers’ Home

By Donald Chaput, David de Haas

University of North Texas Press, 9781574418095, 304pp.

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Most readers of the Wild West know Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, and Morgan Earp for the famous shootout on the streets of Tombstone, Arizona. But few know the later years of the close-knit Earp family, which revolved around patriarch Nicholas Earp, and their last push at a major monetary coup in Los Angeles.

By 1900 a newly established Old Soldiers’ Home was in place at Sawtelle (between Santa Monica and Los Angeles), with thousands of veterans earning monthly pensions, but in an environment where alcohol was prohibited. Enter the Earps and their “blind pig” (illicit alcohol sales) scheme. Two of the Earps, Nicholas and son Newton, were enrolled in the Soldiers’ Home, and Newton’s far more famous half-brothers Wyatt and Virgil showed up from time to time, but the star of the operation was older brother James.

Booze would flow, the pension money would be “dispersed about,” and jails were sometimes filled, as the Earps and several other men on the make competed for the veterans’ money. We are also reintroduced to Old West figures such as “Gunfighter Surgeon” Dr. George Goodfellow, “Silver Tongued Orator” Thomas Fitch, millionaire George Hearst, detective J.V. Brighton, Lucky Baldwin, and many other well-known westerners who touched the lives of the Earps.

About the Author

DON CHAPUT is the author of Virgil Earp: Western Peace Officer; The Earp Papers: In a Brother's Image; and co-author of Cochise County Stalwarts: A Who's Who of the Territorial Years. He lives in Pasadena, California. DAVID D. DE HAAS, MD currently practices emergency medicine in Orange County, California. He has published many medical and Wild West-related articles. He resides in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Praise For The Earps Invade Southern California: Bootlegging Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and the Old Soldiers’ Home

“This is a significant contribution—a previously unexplored chapter of the Earp story. Chaput and de Haas reveal the trouble the Earps had walking the line between law, order, and respectability on the one hand, and the vices on the other. This is a case study of the moral debate that raged at the turn of the twentieth century over gambling and liquor—a time when men like the Earps were asked to choose between the codes they had lived by and organized demands for social reform.”—Gary L. Roberts, author of Doc Holliday and co-editor of A Wyatt Earp Anthology
“There is no other work dealing with the Sawtelle period of the Earps’ lives. In essence this work is all new. I am especially pleased to see that in this work James C. Earp gets attention, as in most works his presence is hardly noted.”—Chuck Parsons, author of Captain John R. Hughes and The Sutton-Taylor Feud