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Tom McLaury: A Unique and Highly Important Bank Deposit Receipt and Check Related to the Legendary O. K. Corral Gunfight. ...

2013 November 24 Legends of the West Signature Auction - #6110

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Auction Ended On: Nov 24, 2013
Item Activity: 2 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Tom McLaury: A Unique and Highly Important Bank Deposit Receipt and Check Related to the Legendary O. K. Corral Gunfight. On October 26, 1881, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank were killed by the Earp brothers and "Doc" Holliday. Along with members of the Clanton family, they had been associated with an unsavory group of cowboys who had numerous run-ins with the law - and in particular with the Earps. Earlier in the day on the 16th, Tom McLaury had an altercation with Wyatt Earp over the arrest of Ike Clanton, which culminated in Earp clubbing Tom over the head with his gun butt.

In the sensational trial which followed the shootout, much emphasis was placed on the fact that Tom McLaury had $3000 in cash - a huge sum in those days - on his person when he was shot. The implication was that the money represented ill-gotten gains. However, Tom's brother William McLaury testified by letter that Tom and Frank had just sold off their cattle herd and were preparing to leave Tombstone to join him in Fort Worth, Texas.

The dual-purpose financial instrument offered here could well be the substantiation of that claim! It is a deposit receipt from the Agency Pima County Bank of Tombstone, dated Oct. 20, 1881 - just 6 days before the gunfight - showing that "McLowry" [sic, written by a clerk] had deposited $4984.50. It goes on to state that the depositor would "pay to the order of himself" that amount "on return of this certificate properly endorsed." Tom McLowry did so on verso, indicating that he had withdrawn the money from the bank. This would certainly account for the $3000 found on his body. What happened to the other $1984.50? By some accounts, Tom was known to have been gambling heavily in town the night before the shooting, a possible explanation.

Tom McLaury's signature is extremely rare in any form, let alone on such a significant document with at the very least close proximity to the Gunfight at the O. K. Corral. It was originally part of the incredible Tombstone collection of John Gilcrease, and is accompanied by a handwritten letter of provenance from Gilcrease, undated but believed to be circa early 1980s. Measuring 8" x 3.5", and in excellent condition.

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