Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock (January 1850 – July 3, 1888) was a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about eight years. Knowledge of her place in Wyatt's life was concealed by Josephine Earp, his later common-law wife, who worked hard to protect her and Wyatt's reputation in their later years.
Mattie was born Celia Ann Blaylock in Monroe Township, Johnson County, Iowa, near Fairfax, Iowa, to Henry Blaylock and Elizabeth "Betsy" Vance. She was their third child and second daughter. The family lived on a small farm that Henry had obtained in 1846. Henry and his wife were stern parents and adhered to the principle, "spare the rod and spoil the child," and "children should be seen and not heard."
Celia, or "Celie" as she was known as a child, attended Sunday school, learned Biblical parables, and was taught to live by the Ten Commandments. When her older sister Martha Jane was 17 she married Charles Probst on July 1, 1870. Celia had no desire to live on a farm the rest of her life.
In mid-1868, Celia ran away with her younger sister Sarah to avoid farm life. Celia was a reasonably skilled seamstress and may have sought work in that field, but both girls found life on their own very difficult. There were few employment possibilities for young girls. They likely headed west to one of the growing towns along the Kansas-Iowa-Missouri border area. Sarah returned home less than a year later, chagrined and shamed by her experience. Her parents greeted her cheerlessly and took her back in disgrace.
At some point after leaving home, Celia chose the alias "Mattie", probably in an effort to conceal her identity and remain as anonymous as possible. However, court records indicate that she continued to call herself by her childhood nickname of "Celie", which was often phonetically spelled by court clerks as "Sally"; no court records have been found throughout her life using the name "Mattie". The first known record of Mattie's presence is a picture taken in Fort Scott in 1871. It's not known where she and Sarah spent the intervening time. Court records show that she adopted prostitution as her profession beginning in 1872 in Fort Scott, then later in Dodge City.
Meets Wyatt Earp
Mattie Blaylock may have met Wyatt between 1871 and 1873. She continued to work as a prostitute during their early years together. In the 1880 United States Census Blaylock is listed as Wyatt's wife though there is no record of a legal marriage.:47:65
Blaylock was said to have suffered from headaches, and while in Tombstone, Arizona she became addicted to laudanum, a common opiate and pain killer.:65 It is not known exactly when Earp and Blaylock ended their relationship. Tombstone diarist George W. Parsons never mentioned seeing Earp and his next common-law wife, Josephine "Sadie" Marcus, together and neither did John Clum in his memoirs.:235 Frank Waters wrote in The Earp Brothers of Tombstone of public fights between Sadie Marcus and Blaylock and how the affair was a public scandal. However, Waters' book has been criticized as biased for its negative portrayal of Wyatt Earp and for including details not mentioned in the original manuscript by Allie Earp (the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp's brother Virgil).
After the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the March 18, 1882 assassination of Morgan Earp, Wyatt Earp, his youngest brother Warren, and a posse of other deputies began a vendetta. They hunted down some of the outlaw Cowboys they believed responsible for maiming Virgil Earp and killing Morgan. In early April, Wyatt left Arizona for New Mexico and then Colorado.
Blaylock left Tombstone with other Earp family members for Colton, California. She apparently expected to receive a telegram from Earp telling her where to meet him, but it never arrived. Instead, Earp went to San Francisco in late 1882 and began a relationship with Josephine "Sadie" Marcus, who had been the common-law wife of Johnny Behan in Tombstone. Blaylock left Colton for Pinal City, Arizona Territory, a town that Blaylock and Earp had stopped in for two months in 1879 on their way to Tombstone. When the couple had been there three years earlier, it was a booming silver town. Upon Mattie's return, however, the silver boom had died down and the bulk of the town's population had moved on. Blaylock had planned a return to prostitution in Pinal City, but with most of the prospective clientele gone with the silver, making a living there proved difficult.
On July 3, 1888, Blaylock took a lethal dose of laudanum and alcohol. Her death was ruled as "suicide by opium poisoning". A long time abuser of laudanum and alcohol, it is possible she overdosed by accident and died of respiratory depression. The coroner's report of her death is brief. She is buried in the cemetery at Pinal City, now a ghost town, and located just west of the former cement and mining town of Superior, Arizona.