The Famous Earp Brothers… of Fairfax?

January 13 2024

By Page Johnson

Well not exactly. But, a new music venue – Earp’s Ordinary – has RE-opened in the City of Fairfax which is a good opportunity to share some history associated with the Earp family.

One hundred years before brothers Virgil (1843-1905), Wyatt (1848-1929), and Morgan Earp (1851-1882), of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, there were brothers Thomas (1732-1790), Matthew (1736-1808), and Caleb Earp (1754-1799) of Fairfax, Virginia.


For the record, Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan Earp were the Great-Great-Great Nephews of Thomas, Matthew and Caleb Earp. As most everyone knows, Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan Earp, were participants in one of the most famous incidents of the Old West – the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But that’s a whole other story.

Not many people are aware that brothers Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan descend from the Earp family of Fairfax County (now City), Virginia. The City of Fairfax was actually founded on the site of a tavern known variously as Earp’s Ordinary, Earp’s Tavern, Earp’s Store, or simply Earp’s Corner. Caleb Earp is credited with the establishment of Earp’s Ordinary.


Caleb Earp’s grandfather, Joshua Joseph Earp (1706-1771), who is also Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan’s G-G-G-Grandfather, was born in Maryland, but had moved to Fairfax, Virginia by 1744. This was just two years after the formation of the county. At the time there were just 4,000 people residing in Fairfax county, the majority of whom lived in the Town of Alexandria. The Earp’s leased land in a remote section near the center of Fairfax County from both George Mason (yes that George Mason) and Richard Ratcliffe, our Town’s founder.

Incidentally, Wyatt Earp, like his G-G-G uncle Caleb before him, also operated a saloon (aka tavern)  – The Oriental – in Tombstone, Arizona.

Caleb Earp was also a lawman. He served as Deputy Sheriff of Fairfax County until his death in 1799. However, unlike his G-G-G nephews, Caleb Earp, as far as is known, was not involved in any gunfights on the streets of Fairfax.

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