Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp|
I Married Wyatt Earp:
The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp
(Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1976)
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was married to the single most outstanding representative of the frontier days. The frontier days were a time in America where real men, real fights and real adventures ruled the day. Josephine Sarah Marcus threw away her chance to take her place as a proper matron in middle class society when she began to follow her dreams of excitement and adventure! No one could tame Josephine, not even Wyatt Earp, however Earp captivated her and his flair for adventure held her captive for their 48 years together.
Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was born to a middle class Jewish merchant family in New York City (possibly Brooklyn) around 1860. Her father was Henry Hyman Marcus and her mother was Sophia. Josephine had two sisters: Rebecca, who was older, and a younger sister, Henrietta. The family moved to San Francisco around 1869. This was the first adventure for Josephine and it set in motion a demand for excitement, variety and change. Josephine grew up in San Francisco where her favorite activity was to go to the shows. Once she saw the show HMS Pinafore she knew what she wanted to do in her life. In 1880 a stage-struck Josephine along with her two friends joined a traveling stage troupe. The shows started in San Bernardino and went to various other cities ending with the final performance in Tombstone, Arizona. Here she met Johnny Behan the sheriff of Cochise County. They became engaged and planned on getting married once Johnny got settled in Tombstone. Josephine returned to her family in San Francisco. Johnny came to San Francisco to meet her parents and to finalize the wedding plans. Josephine went back to Tombstone and at the age of 19 she considered herself to be all grown up and worldly. Josephine thought she was experiencing the most romantic thing that could happen to a girl (how innocent she was) and how unprepared she was for what laid ahead of her in Tombstone. Josephine Sarah Marcus was about to meet her soul mate -- Wyatt Earp! In a surprising turn of events Johnny Behan, her finance, introduced Josephine to Wyatt Earp.
In August/September 1881 Josephine's relationship with John Behan had soured and the friendship between Earp and herself blossomed into a romance. Wyatt, who was married at the time to Mattie, would bring Josephine to the Birdecage Saloon where he would play cards and she would sometimes sing and dance. Mattie and Wyatt separated (though no one knows for sure if there ever was a formal marriage between the two) and Josephine took over the role as his companion.
In October 1881 an event took place in Tombstone which altered Wyatt and Josephine's lives forever. Earp was a local lawman at the time in Tombstone and his biggest problem was the Clanton's -- an alleged rustling empire and Johnny Behan protected them. All of this came to a head at the OK Coral where a shoot out occurred. In 30 seconds Frank and Tom McLowery along with Bill Clanton were killed and 3 of Earp's men -- Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday were wounded. Following the shootout Earp took off on a vendetta after his brother Morgan was killed. Wyatt Earp who once hunted the wanted now was on the wrong side of the law. Josephine went back to San Francisco to wait for Wyatt to send for her. In 1882 Wyatt returned to San Francisco to join Josephine. There is no record to verify that they ever were married, but they were back together again. The Earp's began to travel though out the west.
Josephine and Wyatt traveled to a variety of places such as Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Texas, California and even Alaska. Josephine and Wyatt took jobs as miners or saloon keepers, and gambled. Earp had a dream of one day owning a cattle ranch but that never panned out. During their 3-year stay in Alaska they were prospectors and were able to save $80,000. They used this money to settle in California. Finally in 1906 they settled down and lived in a cottage on the coast of California (near Los Angeles) and during the winter had a cottage (near the desert) in Vidal, California. What followed for them were happy days.
On January 13, 1929 Wyatt Earp passed away leaving Josephine numb and adrift. She was so upset that she did not attend the funeral but took Earp's ashes back to California. Taking Wyatt on this last trip together seemed to be the right thing to do. Their entire life together was spent traveling. On this trip home Josephine felt compelled to set the story straight about the lies and misunderstandings concerning her husband. Josephine was loyal to Wyatt and she was one of his biggest defenders. Over the next 15 years her time was spent traveling between the two homes and working on her memoirs. The typed document, which was produced in the 1930s, is referred to as the Cason Manuscript. On December 19, 1944 Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp passed away and she never saw her story in print. Josephine and Wyatt are buried together sharing the same tombstone in The Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, Ca. Glenn Boyer claims to have used the Cason manuscript for his book entitled I Married Wyatt Earp. The University of Arizona published Boyer's book but Boyer never supplied the supporting documentation. The University of Arizona has pulled the book from publication. There are many questions concerning the validity of the book. It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in Boyer's book. Hopefully all of this will become clear when the Cason Manuscript gets printed. Then we can learn the full account of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp's life with Wyatt Earp.
Boyer, Glenn, I Married Wyatt Earp (Longmeadow Press, Conn., 1994 edition)
Tefertiller, Casey, Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind The Legend (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997)