Josephine Sarah "Sadie" Earp (née Marcus; 1860 – December 19, 1944) was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp, a famed Old West lawman and gambler. She met Wyatt in 1881 in the frontier boom town of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, when she was living with Johnny Behan, sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona.
Josephine was born in New York to a Prussian Jewish family; her father was a baker. They moved to San Francisco, where Josephine attended dance school as a girl. When her father had difficulty finding work, the family moved in with her older sister and brother-in-law in a working-class tenement. Josephine ran away, possibly as early as age 14, and traveled to Arizona, where she had an "adventure". Much of her life from about 1874 to 1880 is uncertain; she worked hard to keep this period of her life private, even threatening legal action against writers and movie producers. She may have arrived in Prescott, Arizona as early as 1874. In a book about her life, I Married Wyatt Earp (1967), she describes events in Arizona that she witnessed that occurred before 1879, the year she previously claimed to have first arrived in Tombstone. There is some evidence that she lived in Prescott and Tip Top, Arizona Territory under the assumed name of Sadie Mansfield, and worked as a prostitute from 1874 to 1876, before becoming ill and returning to San Francisco. The name Sadie Mansfield was also recorded in Tombstone. Researchers have found that the two names share extremely similar characteristics and circumstances.
Later in life Josephine described her first years in Arizona as "a bad dream". What is known for certain is that she traveled to Tombstone using the name Josephine Marcus in October, 1880. She wrote that she met Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan when she was 17 and he was 33. He promised to marry her and she joined him in Tombstone. He reneged but persuaded her to stay. Behan 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, before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which Wyatt and his brothers killed three Cochise County Cowboys. She went to San Francisco in March 1882 and was joined that fall by Wyatt, with whom she remained in a common-law marriage for 46 years until his death.
Josephine and Wyatt moved throughout their life, from one boomtown to another, until they finally bought a cottage in the Sonoran Desert town of Vidal, California on the Colorado River, where they spent the cooler seasons. In the summer they retreated to Los Angeles, where Wyatt struck up relationships with some of the early cowboy actors, including William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Josephine Earp and her relationship to Wyatt became known after amateur historian Glenn Boyer published his book, I Married Wyatt Earp, based on a manuscript allegedly written in part by her. Boyer's book was considered a factual memoir, and cited by scholars, studied in classrooms, and used as a source by filmmakers for 32 years. In 1998, reporters and scholars found that Boyer could not document many of the facts he wrote about the time period in Tombstone. Some critics described the book as a fraud and a hoax, and the University of Arizona withdrew the book from its catalog.
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