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Vol. 4 - No.11 November, 2022 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Who was the Other Woman
at the O.K. Corral?
Wyatt Earp's common-law wife waited for him in California after the 1881 gunfight. Instead, Earp would spend the rest of his life with with a new love interest.

Josephine Sarah "Sadie" Marcus was an aspiring actress and dancer, who ran away from home and met Wyatt Earp in 1881. After the gunfight at the OK Corral, the two reunited in San Francisco and stayed together for the next 45 years.
One area of Wyatt Earp's life, possibly overlooked with all the silver mining, cattle rustling and gun fights happening in 1880s Tombstone, is that he was something of a ladies' man.

We usually just remember Earp as the last man standing after the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and subsequent attacks between Earp, his two brothers, Doc Holliday and the five members of the Clanton-McLaury gang.

But Earp and his brothers had common-law wives. In Wyatt's case, a prostitute-turned full-time companion named Celia Ann “Mattie” Blaylock, whom he met in the early 1870s while working as assistant sheriff in Dodge City, Kan.

Before Blaylock, Earp in January 1870 wed Urilla Sutherland, a childhood friend from Missouri who later that year died of typhus. She was just 22 and thought to be carrying his child.

Enter Sadie Marcus
The Earp clan followed the mining boom west to Tombstone in 1880, where Wyatt would meet his next love interest unbeknownst to Blaylock — Josephine Sarah “Sadie” Marcus, an aspiring actress and dancer who ran away as a teenager from poor family conditions in San Francisco.

“Unforgettable Josephine — I always imagine her looking like a cross between Dolly Parton and Penelope Cruz, all curves and curls and wit — arrived in Tombstone in December 1880 to take up residence with Johnny Behan, who would soon become the first sheriff of brand-new Cochise County,” says Ann Kirschner, author of "Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp."

“Josephine was known to one and all as 'Mrs. Behan' but it didn’t take long before she figured out that Johnny was not exactly the marrying type.”

“By the summer of 1881, she and Wyatt met, possibly at Sol Israel’s Union News Depot on Fourth Street,” Kirschner says.
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The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is the most famous gunfight
of the American West and is reenacted daily in Tombstone.
During the next few months, things became tense in Tombstone between the Earps, Behan and the cattle-rustling Clanton-McLaury gang, culminating in the Oct. 26 gunfight that included more than 30 shots fired in less than one minute and squarely placing Tombstone into Wild West lore.

“Town sympathies were initially with the Earps, who were acquitted by an inquest jury and then by a judge,” Kirschner says. “But the cowboys vowed revenge, and the town exploded again when the cowboys ambushed Virgil Earp and killed Morgan Earp. That’s when Wyatt sent Virgil and all the Earp women (including Mattie Blaylock) to the family in San Bernardino, Calif., while he stayed behind to avenge his brothers.”

Josephine meanwhile aligned with Wyatt, and also left Tombstone for San Francisco to wait for him to pick her up.

Later days
Blaylock waited for nearly two years for Wyatt's return, which he never did. She returned to Arizona and resumed working as a prostitute, but died of a drug overdose at age 37 and is buried near Superior.

After the Tombstone chapter, Wyatt and Josephine were “hardly ever apart, though never legally married, for the next 45 years,” Kirschner says, making her his second common-law wife. They staked mining claims throughout the West, including Alaska, and dabbled in horse racing, real estate, casinos and even the movie business.

She died penniless in December 1944 in Los Angeles, and both she and Wyatt's remains are interred in Colma, Calif. They never had children.

All we have now are tales of Wyatt Earp's "other woman," Josephine, at the O.K. Corral.
By the Mark Nothaft of Only in Arizona
Call 818-395-5020 for more information
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