Josephine Earp

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"Josephine Marcus" redirects here. For the fictional character, see Josie Marcus (Scandal).
Josephine Earp
Josephine Sarah "Sadie" Marcus at about age 20, c. 1881, by C. S. Fly
Born Josephine Sarah Marcus
New York, U.S.A.
Died December 19, 1944(1944-12-19) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Other names Sadie, Josie
Occupation frontier adventurer
Spouse(s) Johnny Behan (common-law husband)
Wyatt Earp (common-law husband)

Josephine "Sadie" Sarah Marcus Earp (1861-December 19, 1944) was an American part-time actress and dancer who was best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. Known as "Sadie" to the public in 1881, she met Wyatt in the frontier boom town Tombstone, Arizona Territory when she was living with Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan. She became Earp's common-law wife for 46 years.

Josephine was born in New York to a Prussian Jewish family; her parents were relatively well off and she grew up with many advantages, moving with the family as a child to San Francisco. As a teenager, she ran away and traveled to Arizona, where she had an "adventure". Much of her life from about 1874 to 1882 is uncertain, as she kept it secret. She threatened legal action later in life to keep this period private.

She may have arrived in Prescott, Arizona as early as 1874. In a book about her life, I Married Wyatt Earp, she related events that occurred before 1880, when she claimed to have arrived in Tombstone. She may have lived in Tip Top, Arizona under an assumed name, and may have worked as a prostitute for a period of time. What is known for certain is that she arrived in Tombstone, Arizona in 1880, and she became a mistress to Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan. He was sympathetic to ranchers and certain outlaw Cowboys, who were at odds with Deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp and his brothers, Wyatt and Morgan. Josephine left Behan in 1881, sometime before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in October of that year. She returned to San Francisco in early 1882 and was joined by Wyatt Earp, with whom she remained in a common-law marriage for 46 years until his death.

Josephine Earp became well-known when her manuscript about her life was used as a source by amateur historian Glenn Boyer for his book, I Married Wyatt Earp, first published by the University of Arizona Press in 1967. Considered a factual memoir, it was cited by scholars, studied in classrooms, and used as a source by filmmakers for 32 years. In 1998, scholars found that Boyer could not substantiate many of the facts about the time period in Tombstone. Some critics described the book as a fraud and a hoax, and the university withdrew the book from its catalog.

Early life[edit]

She was born as Josephine Marcus in 1860 in New York City, the second of three children of Prussian Jewish immigrants Carl-Hyman Marcuse (later Henry Marcus) and Sophie Lewis.[1] Her mother Sophie was a widow with a 3-year-old daughter, Rebecca, when she married Carl-Hyman, who was eight years younger than she.[2] Josephine's siblings were an older brother Nathan (born August 12, 1857) and younger sister Henrietta (born July 10, 1864).[2]

Move to San Francisco[edit]

When Josephine was 11, her father moved the family to the growing city of San Francisco.[3] Leaving their upper-middle class life behind,[4] they traveled via ship to Panama, went overland, and caught a second ship to San Francisco, arriving while the city was recovering from the disastrous earthquake of October 21, 1868.[2] Her father found work as a baker.[2]

By 1870, San Francisco's population had boomed to 149,473, and housing was in short supply. Apartment buildings were crowded and large homes were converted into rooming houses. The city was riding on the coattails of the still expanding economic boom caused by the mining of silver from the Comstock Lode. Lots of money flowed from Nevada through San Francisco, and for a while the Marcus family prospered. Later that year, Josephine's half-sister Rebecca Levy married Aaron Wiener,[5] an insurance salesman born in Prussia, as her parents were. [2]

Living conditions[edit]

As an adult, Josephine claimed her father ran a prosperous mercantile business.[3] Henry Marcus made enough money to send Josephine and her sister Hattie to music and dance classes at the McCarthy Dancing Academy, a family-owned business that taught both children and adults. In I Married Wyatt Earp, author Glen Boyer states that Josephine had a maid and took dance lessons. He wrote (in her voice), "Hattie and I attended the McCarthy Dancing Academy for children on Howard Street (Polk and Pacific). Eugenia and Lottie McCarthy taught us to dance the Highland Fling, the Sailor's Hornpipe, and ballroom dancing."

During 1874, production of gold and silver from the Comstock Lode, which had brought so much wealth to San Francisco, began to dwindle. San Francisco suffered, and her father Henry’s earnings as a baker fell. The family was forced to move in with Josephine's older sister Sophia and her husband in the flatlands “south of the slot” (south of Market Street), a working-class, ethnically mixed neighborhood, where smoke from factory chimneys filled the air.[6] The 1880 census places the family in the 9th Ward between San Francisco Bay, Channel Street, Harrison Street and Seventh Street.[7][8][9]


As a girl, Josephine loved going to the shows in town.[10] “There was far too much excitement in the air to remain a child.”[2] She apparently resented treatment by her teachers in the San Francisco schools, describing them as “inconsistent of a tolerant and gay populous acting as merciless and self-righteous as a New England village in bringing up its children.” She described the harsh discipline meted out, including the “sting of rattan" and “being slapped for tardiness”.[2] Josephine said that she matured early and developed large breasts.[11]

Leaves San Francisco[edit]

There are conflicting accounts of when Josephine, or "Sadie", her preferred name as an adult, reached Arizona. After Wyatt's death, Josephine collaborated with two of her husband's cousins, Mabel Earp Cason and her sister Vinolia Earp Ackerman, to document her life. The cousins recorded events in her later life, but they found Sadie evasive about her early life in the Arizona Territory and Tombstone.[12]

In her conversations about her life with the Earp cousins, Sadie was imprecise about the timing and nature of events during this period. The most she would say is that she returned to the Arizona Territory and joined Johnny Behan in Tombstone. She said that she had believed Behan was planning to marry her, but he kept putting it off, and she grew disillusioned.[13] The facts about Sadie's arrival and her life in the Arizona Territory and in Tombstone have been obscured by her working to keep that period private.[12]

Runs away[edit]

H.M.S. Pinafore poster, 1879

Based on the story Sadie told the Earp cousins and other sources, she may have left San Francisco as early as October 1874,[6] when she was 13 or 14 years old.[12]

In I Married Wyatt Earp, Sadie wrote that one day, "I left my home one morning, carrying my books just as though I was going to school as usual."[14] She said she was 18 years old and that she ran away with two friends, Dora Hirsch, daughter of her music teacher, and a girl named Agnes, who had a role in Pauline Markham troupe's production of H.M.S. Pinafore in San Francisco.[3][14] Josephine said that she brought her maid, a black woman named Julia, with her. She said that they took a stagecoach to Arizona, where a band of Indians was on the loose and that the group was forced to hole up in a ranch house for about a week, during which she met Al Seiber and later Johnny Behan.[2] During 1871-73, Behan was Sheriff for Yavapai County and married to Victoria Zaff.[15][16]

A woman named Hattie Wells owned a brothel half a block from the school which Josephine attended on Powell Street in San Francisco, and she also owned a brothel in Prescott, Arizona. In November 1874, a woman named Sadie Mansfield took a stagecoach, with several prostitutes working for Wells, from San Francisco to Prescott. The group was accompanied by a black woman named Julia Barton. (Sadie told the Earp cousins that Pauline Markham had a maid named Julia.)[17]

Johnny Behan in 1871. Josephine said he was "young and darkly handsome, with merry black eyes and an engaging smile."

Meets Johnny Behan[edit]

Pauline Markham, c. 1860s. Josephine said she joined Markham's theater troupe in 1879 in San Franscisco before it toured to Arizona. Markham was a nationally known actress, singer and burlesque dancer.

On September 28, 1874, Behan was nominated as sheriff at the Democratic convention in Yavapai County, Arizona.[2] The Prescott Miner reported on October 6 that “J.H. Behan left on an 'electioneering' tour toward Black Canyon, Wickenburg and other places” north and east of present-day Phoenix, in the same area as Cave Creek where Al Sieber was looking for Indians. Behan was gone for 35 days, during which he could have met Josephine. Behan returned to Prescott on November 11, 1874 and lost the election.[2]

In Arizona, Josephine was known as Sadie.[18] Josephine told that when pon arriving in Arizona, she learned that “some renegade Yuma-Apaches had escaped from the reservation to which they had been consigned and had returned to their old haunts on the war-path.” She wrote that the famous Indian fighter Al Sieber was tracking escaped Apache[19] and led the three girls to safety.

On October 24, 1874, the Arizona Miner reported, “Al Zieber, Sergeant Stauffer and a mixed command of white and red soldiers are in the hills of Verde looking for some erring Apaches, whom they will be apt to find.” On October 27, 1874, Sieber and Sgt. Rudolph Stauffer fought a group of Apache that had escaped the reservation at Cave Creek.[19] In February 1875, Sieber helped close the Camp Verde Reservation and transfer the Yavapai and Tonto Apache at Camp Verde to the San Carlos Reservation.[20] Sieber remained in the San Carlos area for the next few years. It is about 130 miles (210 km) to the southeast of Cave Creek and 200 miles (320 km) north of Tombstone.[21]

Sadie described Seiber in buckskin clothing, but he later said he wore buckskin garments only while posing for a photograph. She said that Sieber and his scouts led her stagecoach and its passengers to a nearby adobe ranch house. The group spent 10 days sleeping on the floor. According to Sadie, she first met "John Harris" here, who she described as, "young and darkly handsome, with merry black eyes and an engaging smile."[6]

Sadie's stay in Arizona[edit]

During December 1874, neighbors witnessed Behan visiting a “house of ill fame” on several occasions. The brothel was located on Granite Street near Gurley in Prescott. He had a “relationship with” 14-year-old Sadie Mansfield who worked there under the watchful eye of Madam Josie Roland.[2] Josephine described meeting Behan: “My heart was stirred by his attentions as would the heart of any girl have been under such romantic circumstances. The affair was at least a diversion in my homesickness though I cannot say I was in love with him.”[2] Behan's wife divorced him in 1875 for consorting with a known prostitute named Sadie Mansfield.[22]:79

On February 6, 1875, criminal charges were filed against Sadie Mansfield for petty larceny, accusing her of stealing two German silver spoons worth $126.00. The charges against her reported that “one set of German table spoons were stolen from the store of H. Asher and Company in the village of Prescott, Yavapai, A.T.” Sheriff Ed Burnes searched Mansfield's residence and confiscated the spoons. The case was tried the same day with only one witness for the defense, Jennie Andrews. The nine-man jury found her not guilty.[2]

Johnny Behan built a saloon in the fast-growing silver mining town of Tip Top, Arizona Territory. The town already had five saloons with five courtesans, but Johnny's new saloon had none.[23] On June 2, 1880, the U.S. census recorded Sadie Mansfield, whose occupation was "courtesan", living in Tip Top.

These facts may explain why Josephine later thought of this time in her life as “a bad dream.”[2] She said, “the whole experience recurs to my memory as a bad dream and I remember little of its details. I can remember shedding many tears in out-of the way-corners. I thought constantly of my mother and how great must be her grief and worry over me. In my confusion, I could see no way out of the tragic mess.”[2]

Visits San Francisco[edit]

Sadie/Josephine wrote that she and Dora were homesick and returned to San Francisco with Sieber's help. Josephine told the Earp cousins that she returned to San Francisco before the grand opening of Lucky Baldwin's luxury Baldwin Hotel and Theater on the northeast corner of Powell and Market St. in 1876.[24]

Behan proposes[edit]

According to Josephine, when she returned to San Francisco, Behan followed her. He asked her to marry him and persuaded her parents to approve their engagement.[2] Behan told her family that he could not leave his livery stable business long enough for a wedding in San Francisco.[6][25] Some modern researchers question the likelihood that her father, a Reform Jew, would approve his 19-year-old daughter's union with Behan, a 34-year-old unemployed office-seeker, Gentile, and divorced father.[26] Later in life, Josephine was not a practicing Jew and did not seem to care whether her partners were Jewish.[11]

Josephine thought Johnny’s marriage proposal was a good excuse to leave home again. She wrote, “life was dull for me in San Francisco. In spite of my bad experience of a few years ago the call to adventure still stirred my blood."[2] Considering that Behan left Tip Top for Tombstone in 1880, and that Josephine joined Behan in Tombstone that same year, her reference to "my bad experience of a few years ago" means she must have been in Arizona for some time beforehand.[2]

Returns to Arizona[edit]

In her manuscript, which was partly a basis for the book I Married Wyatt Earp, Josephine says she and her friend Dora joined the Pauline Markham Theater Company in 1879, when it visited San Francisco on its Western tour.[3] Markham already had a national reputation as a burlesque dancer and songstress. She often appeared on stage and in racy publicity photos wearing a corset and pink tights: shocking attire for the 1870s. Josephine wrote that Dora was hired as a singer, and she was hired as a dancer. They sailed with the other six members of the Pauline Markham troupe from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, where they stayed for a few days, performing in San Bernardino before leaving for Prescott, Arizona Territory, by stagecoach.[14] But, the Markham troupe was documented as leaving San Francisco for Tucson, Arizona in October 1879 on the Southern Pacific Railroad.[3]

After Tucson, the Markham troupe went to Tombstone on December 1, 1879, for a one-week engagement. This was the same date that Wyatt Earp and his brothers arrived, although there is no record that Josephine and Earp met then. Josephine was jealous of the attention Behan gave other women. Behan's wife had divorced him in 1875 because he frequented brothels, possibly including that where Josephine worked. He continued to see other women while living with Josephine.[27]:54

When the Markham troupe finished their engagement in Tombstone, they headed north to Prescott. They performed H.M.S. Pinafore more than a dozen times from December 24, 1879 through February 20, 1880. Sadie, possibly using the stage name May Bell, may have played Cousin Hebe. Professor Pat Ryan identified May Bell as Josephine Marcus in an article, "Tombstone Theatre Tonight".[28]:62[29] The city of Prescott fell in love with the troupe and "Sadie Marcus", and they performed for nearly six months.[30]

Behan owned a saloon and brothel in Tip Top, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, where he was recorded by the U.S. census as a resident in June 1880.[31] A few months earlier, in February 1880, just after the Markham troupe ended its initial run of performances in Prescott, Sadie Marcus left the acting troupe.[23] In the 1880 census, Sadie Mansfield was recorded as a resident in Tip Top.[2]

On June 1 or 2, 1880, William V. Carroll, the census enumerator for the 9th ward in San Francisco, visited the Marcus home. He lived about two blocks from the family. He recorded Josephine as a member of the Marcus household, information that may have been offered by her parents. On June 2, Sadie Mansfield was recorded by an Arizona enumerator as living in Tip Top. Sadie Mansfield and Sadie Marcus had very similar names, were both 19 years old, and were born in New York City to Prussian parents.[32] The only difference is their occupation: Sadie in San Francisco is listed as "At home", while Sadie in Tip Top is recorded as a "Courtesan".[17] (In the 1920 census, Josephine reported to the census taker that her family was from Hamburg, Germany, bordering Prussia.)[17]

Appearance and personality[edit]

In his book, The Tombstone Travesty (later republished as The Earp Brothers of Tombstone), Frank Waters quotes Virgil Wyatt's wife, Allie, as saying that "Sadie's charms were undeniable. She had a small, trim body and a meneo of the hips that kept her full, flounced skirts bouncing.[25] Josephine was an attractive woman, with thick, dark hair, vivid black eyes, and was well-endowed.[11] Bat Masterson described her as "an incredible beauty,"[33] and as the “belle of the honkytonks, the prettiest dame in three hundred or so of her kind,”[25] which might have been a reference to Josephine's work as a prostitute.[33]

Josephine always sought excitement in her life. In the book I Married Wyatt Earp, author Glenn Boyer quotes her as saying, “I liked the traveling sort of man... better than the kind that sat back in one town all his life and wrote down little rows of figures all day or hustled dry goods or groceries and that sort of thing... My blood demanded excitement, variety and change.”[25] The type of work available to most women in that era was as laundresses, seamstresses, or other dull work which Josephine avoided. Her life as a dancer, actress, and possibly prostitute allowed her greater independence. She likely enjoyed the social life that accompanied her role. But as an unmarried woman in frontier Tombstone, vastly outnumbered by men, she may have been regarded by some as a prostitute.[34]:101 Modern researchers also think she may have been trying to conceal her past as a "sporting lady".[35] While prostitutes were ostracized by "respectable" women, many madams and prostitutes had more control of their lives and greater independence than other women.[36]

Move to Tombstone[edit]

In September 1880, Behan and Sadie left Tip Top for Tombstone.[37]:19 Soon after they arrived, Behan's ex-wife sent their eight-year-old son Albert to live with him.[25] Josephine said years later that she lived with a lawyer while working as a housekeeper for Behan and his eight-year-old son, Albert. Boyer argues that she actually lived with Behan.[38] When Josephine went with Behan to Tombstone in October, 1880,[39]:63 she was hoping he would fulfill his promises to marry her. When he delayed, she was ready to leave him.[13]

Josephine is quoted in I Married Wyatt Earp that she received a letter and $300 from her father, urging her to return to San Francisco.[25] The money was to cover her return trip, and it was ten times what she needed for the fare.[17] Rather than leave Tombstone, Josephine later wrote that Behan convinced her to use the money to build a house for them[25] and resumed their relationship.[25] At the time, her parents were living south of Market Street in San Francisco with their daughter and her husband, and her father worked as a baker. It is unlikely that he was a "wealthy German merchant" as she described him.[17]

While there are no records that her father sent her money, researchers have located records of money orders totaling $50 sent by Josephine to her family in San Francisco. One of these was sent after she ended her relationship with Johnny Behan, indicating that she was earning money as a single woman.[17]

Kicks Behan out[edit]

In early 1881, Josephine returned to Tombstone after a trip to San Francisco.[40] One version of the story is that she had taken Behan's son Albert, who was hearing impaired, to San Francisco for treatment. Upon their return, they arrived late in the evening and a day earlier than expected, at the house built with her father's money. Finding Behan in bed with the wife of a friend of theirs, she kicked him out.[25][41]

Relationship with Wyatt Earp[edit]

Wyatt Earp at about age 33.

Josephine ended her relationship with Behan in early 1881. How and when she and Wyatt Earp began their relationship is unknown. Tombstone diarist George W. Parsons never mentioned seeing Wyatt and Josephine together and neither did John Clum in his memoirs.[42]:p235 While there are no contemporary records in Tombstone of a relationship between them, they certainly knew each other, as Behan and Earp both had offices above the Crystal Palace Saloon.[43]

Some modern writers report that Wyatt Earp moved in with Josephine after she kicked Behan out.[40] But, in April 1881, less than eight months after Behan and Josephine built the house, she rented it to Dr. George Emory Goodfellow. As late as June 1881, Josephine was still signing her name as "Josephine Behan" and Wyatt Earp was still living with his common-law wife Mattie Blaylock.[27]:59 At some point during August and September, Josephine and Wyatt became friends and perhaps more seriously involved. Writer Alan Barra suggests that Behan and Earp knew of their mutual attraction to the same woman before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which may have contributed to their animosity.[42]:p235

Frank Waters' book, The Tombstone Travesty, recounted public fights between Sadie and Mattie Blaylock, and wrote that the Wyatt affair with Sadie was a public scandal. However, Water's book has been criticized as extremely biased for its negative portrayal of Wyatt Earp and for including details not part of Allie Earp's original manuscript.[44] One reviewer described it as "a smear campaign levied against the Earp brothers."[45] Given the nature of frontier Tombstone and Earp's past, it is hard to think of what public there was to be scandalized.

Josephine is quoted in I Married Wyatt Earp as saying that on October 26, 1881, the day of the shootout at the OK Corral, she was at her home when she heard the sound of gunfire. Running into town in the direction of the shots, Josephine was relieved to see that Wyatt was uninjured.[46] After Josephine returned to San Francisco in early 1882, Behan traveled there in March, possibly still carrying a torch for her.[34]:p36

I Married Wyatt Earp[edit]

Main article: I Married Wyatt Earp
Cover of I Married Wyatt Earp, by Glenn Boyer, based in part on the so-called "Clum manuscript" supposedly written by Sadie before she died. The book was discredited as largely fictional in 1999.
The original photogravure of a semi-nude woman used by Glen Boyer on the cover of I Married Wyatt Earp. He insisted it was a picture of Josephine from 1880 but the picture was actually copyrighted in 1914.

In their later years Wyatt and Josephine Earp worked hard to eliminate any mention that Josephine had been Johnny Behan's mistress or of Wyatt's previous common law marriage to the prostitute Mattie Blaylock. They successfully kept both women's names out of Stuart Lake's biography of Wyatt and after he died, Josephine may have threatened litigation to keep it that way.[18]:101 Lake corresponded with Josephine over several years, and he claimed she attempted to influence what he wrote and hamper him in every way possible, including consulting lawyers. Josephine insisted she was striving to protect Wyatt Earp’s legacy.[47] She was also in need of money, and tried to sell a collection of books to Lake while he was writing the book.[47]

After Wyatt Earp's death, Josephine sought to get her own life story published. She sought the assistance of Wyatt's cousins Mabel Earp Cason and Cason's sister Vinolia Earp Ackerman. They recorded events in her life but found Josephine was evasive about her early life in Tombstone. She approached several publishers for the book, but backed out several times due to their insistence that she be completely open and forthcoming, rather than slanting her memories to her favor. Josephine wanted to keep their tarnished history associated with Tombstone private. Josephine finally changed her mind and asked Wyatt's cousins to burn their work, but Cason held back a copy, to which Glenn Boyer eventually acquired the rights.[48][49]

The University of Arizona Press published the book in 1976 under the title I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus. It was immensely popular for many years, becoming the university's fourth all-time best selling book with over 35,000 sold. It was cited by scholars and relied upon as factual by filmmakers.[50]

Beginning in about 1994, critics began to challenge the accuracy of the book, and eventually many parts of the book were refuted as fictional. In 1998, a series of articles in the Phoenix New Times, including interviews with Glenn Boyer, argued that Boyer invented large portions of the book.[51] In 2000, the University responded to criticism of the university and the book and removed it from their catalog.[52]

The book has become an example of how supposedly factual works can trip up researchers, historians, and librarians. It was described by the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology in 2006 as a creative exercise that cannot be substantiated[53]:489 or relied on.[34]:154

Life after Tombstone[edit]

After the Earp Vendetta Ride, Wyatt left Arizona for Colorado. Earp's former wife, Mattie Blaylock traveled with other Earp family members in April, 1882, to Colton, California, waiting for Wyatt to telegraph her and invite her to join him. Wyatt never sent for her and she moved to Pinal, Arizona, where she resumed life as a prostitute, eventually committing suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum.[54]

Sadie remained in Tombstone until later in 1882. Sadie Mansfield, who had left Tip Top Arizona with Johhny Behan, reappeared in the July 1882 Tombstone census.[17] Sadie, or Josephine, left for San Francisco sometime after the Earp Vendetta Ride. Wyatt came to San Francisco for her in late 1882. Wyatt took a job managing a horse stable in Santa Rosa. Earp developed a reputation as a sportsman as well as a gambler. He owned a six-horse stable in San Francisco.[55] At Santa Rosa, Earp personally competed in and won a harness race. From 1890 to 1897, they lived at four different residences in the city: 145 Ellis St., 720 McAllister St., 514A Seventh Ave. and 1004 Golden Gate Ave.[27]:171 By 1882 Marcus had adopted the name of "Josephine Earp", although no official record of their marriage exists. Marcus and Earp traveled through various western states hunting for gold and silver. They ran horse races in San Diego as well as operated saloons in Idaho and Alaska. Josephine apparently developed a serious gambling habit,[11] and at times they received some financial support from her family.

Josephine wrote in I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus, that she and Wyatt were married in 1892 by the captain of millionaire Lucky Baldwin's yacht aboard his yacht. Raymond Nez wrote that his grandparents witnessed their marriage aboard a yacht off the California coast.[45] Josephine was friends with Lucky Baldwin and wrote that she received money from him in return for her jewelry, eventually selling virtually all of her jewelry to him.[56] No public record of their marriage has ever been found.[57]

The Earps' grave at Hills of Eternity

Protects privacy[edit]

When Frank Waters was writing Tombstone Travesty, originally published in 1934, he returned from a research trip to Tombstone to learn that Sadie Earp had visited his mother and sister and threatened court action to prevent him from publishing the book.[58]:8 Water's work was later found to be critically flawed, "based upon prevarications, character assassinations, and the psychological battleground that was the brilliant, narcissistic mind of its author."[59]

In the course of writing Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, Stuart Lake learned some aspects of Sadie's life that she wanted to keep private. At one point in their contentious relationship, Josephine described Lake's book as made up of "outright lies".[60] Josephine and Wyatt went to great lengths to keep her name out of Lake's book, and she threatened litigation to keep it that way.[18]:101[61] Wyatt became critically ill in late 1928 and died on January 13, 1929. Sadie traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to try to persuade the publisher to stop the release of the book.[47] Although the biography became a bestseller, it was later strongly criticized for fictionalizing his life, and was found to be markedly inaccurate.

Among other things, Sadie was trying to suppress information on Wyatt's common-law wife, Mattie Blaylock, with whom Wyatt was living when Sadie and Wyatt began their relationship. While Blaylock was living with Earp, she suffered from severe headaches and became addicted to laudanum, an opiate-based pain reliever in common use at the time. After Earp left Tombstone and Blaylock behind, she waited in Colton, California to hear from him , but he never contacted her. She resumed life as a prostitute and later committed suicide.[4][11][62]:47[62]:p65 Josephine told Earp's biographers and others that Earp never owned gambling saloons, or that he offered prostitutes upstairs, when both were true.[11]

Josephine later came to admire Stuart Lake's book, and the two were reconciled.[citation needed] Mrs. Cason says she and her sister "finally abandoned work on the manuscript because she [Josie] would not clear up the Tombstone sequence where it pertained to her and Wyatt."[12] As late as 1936, Sadie took legal action to suppress certain details of her and Wyatt's life in Tombstone.[22]:36

In 1939 Josephine sued 20th Century Fox for $50,000 in an attempt to keep them from making the film titled Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. With the provision that Wyatt's name be removed from the title, she agreed to the movie being released as Frontier Marshal.[63]

In Los Angeles Josephine became friends with many celebrities, including Cecil B. DeMille and Gary Cooper. She received part of the money made by Stuart Lake's book about her husband as well as royalties from the movie Frontier Marshal.

Josephine Earp spent her last years in Los Angeles. She continued the correspondence with Johnny Behan's son, Albert Price Behan, whom she had grown to love as her own son.[64]

Josephine Earp died on December 20, 1944, at 4004 W. 17th Street in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.[65] She was 83 or 84 years old. Her body was cremated and buried next to Wyatt's remains in the Marcus family plot in the Jewish Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California. Her parents and brother are buried nearby.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ 1880 United States Census, 1880; 9th Ward, San Francisco, California; page 455C, , Family History film 1254075 , National Archives film number T9-0075 . Retrieved on 20 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Mitchell, Carol (February–March 2001). Lady Sadie. True West Magazine. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Paula E. Hyman, Deborah Dash Moore, ed. (November 5, 1997). Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1: A-L. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-91934-0. 
  4. ^ a b Dunlap, LucyAnn (September 28, 2005). "Three Wives' Tale: Wyatt Earp". U.S. 1 Princeton. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  5. ^ Jim W. Faulkinbury (2007). "San Francisco Morning Call Newspaper Vital Statistics". Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Mitchell, Carol. "Lady Sadie". True West Magazine. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  7. ^ 1880 United States Census, 1880; San Francisco, California; page 454B, , National Archives film number T9-0075 . Retrieved on 20 June 2011.
  8. ^ "San Francisco Genealogy - District & Wards, Election, Voting, Census". Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Neighborhoods in San Francisco#South End
  10. ^ Calchi, Pat. "I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp". Book Review. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Flanzbaum, Hilene (March 2, 2013). "The Jewish First Lady at Legendary Lawmaker Wyatt Earp's O.K. Corral". The Forward. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d Morey, Jeffrey J. (October–December 1994). "The Curious Vendetta of Glenn G. Boyer". Quarterly of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History (NOLA). XVIII (4): 22–28. 
  13. ^ a b Guinn, Jeff. The Last Gunfight: the Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and How it Changed the American West (first ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-5424-3. 
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