The family was forever moving but settled in Charleston in the Arizona Territory in 1873. By 1877 the Clanton Ranch was up and running, the same year Ed Schieffelin discovered silver in the Goose Flats, less than 15 miles from the Clanton Ranch. Schieffelin founded Tombstone, a place where the Clanton boys often frequented.
Billy, along with the McLaury brothers, Tom and Frank, usually went to town for business. He was well liked by the folks living in town unlike his brother Ike. People saw Billy as a hard worker but Ike was revered as a nasty drunk, constantly shooting off his mouth and pistols.
When the Earps came to town, things changed for young Billy. He, along with his father and Ike, were accused of murder and being horse thieves. It was the year 1881 which would change everything for good. On August 13th, his father was murdered in an ambush by Mexican Rurales in the Guadalupe Canyon. Billy and his brothers continued taking care of the ranch and business. On October 25th, Billy, along with the McLaury brothers rode to Tombstone for a shot or two of whiskey after a long day of gathering up scattered cattle.
The next day’s event would go down in history. After an exchange of words with the Earps and Doc Holliday, Billy, Ike, Billy Claiborne and the McLaury brothers gathered behind the O.K. Corral. The Earps were told the gang was rowdy and carrying weapons. The Earps and Holliday walked down to the corral where the famous gun battle ensued. When the dust finally settled, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers lay dead in the bloody dirt.
Half the town of Tombstone sided with the Clantons while the other half stood behind the Earps. The outlaws’ funeral was the largest in Tombstone’s history. All three were buried at the Boot Hill cemetery. It was told that Billy’s father’s remains were later moved by his brothers, Ike and Phin, and buried next to Billy.