Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Josephine Sarah Marcus ~ aka Josephine Earp

Josephine Sarah Marcus
Josephine Sarah Marcus was the second of three children born in Brooklyn, NY in 1860-61 to German-Jewish immigrants Carl Hyman Marcuse (later Henry Marcus) and Sophie Lewis. When they married, Sophie was 8 years older than her husband and a widow with a 3-year-old daughter named Rebecca. Josephine had an older brother Nathan (August 12, 1857) and younger sister Henrietta (July 10, 1864).
When Josephine was 11, her father was lured by the opportunity afforded in the growing city of San Francisco. They traveled via ship to Panama and caught a second ship to San Francisco, arriving while the city was recovering from the disastrous earthquake of October 21, 1868. Her parents joined the Reformed Temple and her father found work as a baker.

By 1870 San Francisco, the 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 extraction of silver from the Comtock Lode. Lots of money flowed from Nevada through San Francisco, and for a while the Marcus family prospered. Later that year her step-sister Rebecca Levy married Aaron Wiener, an insurance salesman and a native of Prussia, like her parents.

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 music and dance to both children and adults. In her autobiography I Married Wyatt Earp, Josephine states, "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."

Josephine claimed that she matured early. “There was far too much excitement in the air to remain a child.” She apparently resented how the schools in San Francisco treated her, 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 disciplined meted out, including the “sting of rattan" and “being slapped for tardiness”.

In 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, forcing the family to move in with Josephine's older sister Sophia and her husband in the flatlands south of Market Street. It was known as “The Slot,” a working class, ethnically mixed neighborhood, where smoke from factory chimneys filled the air.

Pauline Markham
When Josephine was 17 years old, she and friend Dora Hirsh ran away with the Pauline Markham Theater Company. Markham already had a nationwide reputation as a burlesque songstress. She often appeared on stage and in racy publicity photos wearing a corset and pink tights ... shocking attire for the 1870s. In the manuscript that was used in part as a basis for her book I Married Wyatt Earp, Josephine wrote that she and Dora sailed from San Francisco to Santa Barbara with the 6 members of the troupe. [Note: The troupe actually left San Francisco October of 1879 for Arizona on board the Southern Pacific Railroad. The troupe reached Tombstone in December 1879 after which they headed north to Prescott. where they put on more than a dozen performances of HMS Pinafore between December 24, 1879~February 20, 1880.]
John Behan
On September 28, 1874, John Behan was nominated Sheriff at the Democratic convention in Yavapai County. 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, only a few miles distant from Cave Creek where Al Sieber, the famous Indian scout, was looking for Indians. Behan was gone for 35 days, during which he could have met Josephine. She said “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.” Behan returned to Prescott on November 11 but lost the election.

Josephine's record of what happened next, if accurate, says that she and Dora were homesick and returned to San Francisco with the help of Sieber, who she claimed led them to safety. Sieber was German and so was Josephine's father. Sieber is supposed to have contacted Josephine's brother-in-law, Aaron Wiener, who helped arrange transportation home. While Josephine described Seiber in buckskin clothing, he later said he only wore buckskin garments while posing for a photograph. Josephine's story was that Sieber and his scouts led her stagecoach and it's passengers to a nearby adobe ranch house where the group spent 10 days sleeping on the floor. According to Josephine, this is where she first met John Harris, who she described as, "young and darkly handsome, with merry black eyes and an engaging smile."

According to Josephine's story, upon her return to San Francisco, Johnny Behan followed her in order to ask her to marry him. She declined, and he returned to Arizona. Josephine told the Earp cousins that she returned to San Francisco before the grand opening of the Baldwin Theater on March 6, 1876. She wrote that her family told "the younger children (niece and nephew), and our friends were told that I had gone away for a visit.... The memory of it has been a source of humiliation and regret to me in all the years since that time and I have never until now disclosed it to anyone besides my husband (Wyatt)."

Tip Top, AZ ca. 1888
 In November, 1879, Behan had a saloon in the silver mining town known as TipTop, AZ. The fast-growing town already had five saloons with five courtesans, and Johnny's new saloon had none.

According to Josephine, Johnny proposed marriage and she decided to leave San Francisco once again. Johnny’s proposal of marriage was a good excuse to leave home. 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."

Behan arrived in Tombstone in September, 1880. 18 months after the town's founding. He was named by newly elected Sheriff Charles A. Shibell as the Pima County Deputy Sheriff for eastern Pima County. He also bought part interest in the Dexter Livery Stable with John Dunbar.

Josephine moved with Behan to Tombstone. She said years later that she lived with a lawyer while working as a housekeeper for Behan and his ten year old son, Albert. This version of her return has been disputed, as some believe that she was really living with Behan all along after her return to Tombstone. In her conversations about her life with the Earp cousins, she was very imprecise about the timing and exact nature of events during this period. The most she would say is that she returned to Tombstone believing Behan was planning to marry her, and when he kept putting it off, she grew disillusioned.

In the midst of their romantic relationship, Behan continued to see other women. Josephine wrote a letter to her father, who sent her $300 for a return trip to San Francisco. Rather than leaving Tombstone, Behan convinced Josephine to use the money to build a house for them. Josie also pawned a diamond ring to complete the construction.

In April 1881, less than eight months later, the home that Behan and Marcus shared had been rented to Dr. George Emory Goodfellow. However, as late as June 1881, Josephine was still signing her name as Josephine Behan. In the summer of 1881 Johnny Behan became involved in a serious romantic relationship with another woman. Wyatt Earp was still living with his current common-law wife Mattie Blaylock.

Wyatt Earp, Age 33
It is not known exactly when Marcus left Behan or how Marcus and Wyatt Earp began their relationship. Known diarist George W. Parsons never mentioned seeing Wyatt and Josephine together, and neither did John Clum in his memoirs. Virgil's wife, Allie, did write about her, noting 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. Certainly her strange accent, brought with her from New York to San Francisco, carried a music new to the ears of a Western gambler and gunman." At some point during August and September they became friends and then more seriously involved.

Behan was embarrassed by the public breakup. Most Tombstone residents thought that Marcus and Behan were legally married. Her breakup with Behan and her arrival into Wyatt's life were publicized by the The Tombstone Epitaph, the leading local newspaper. To add to the scandal Earp had been in a common-law marriage with Mattie Blaylock since 1873. Allie Earp, Virgil's wife, wrote that the two women had at least two verbal altercations over the affair between Josie and Wyatt Earp, but her story of the relationship is not believed by some historians.

Tombstone Looking East
The embarrassment suffered by Behan was one of many factors that may have contributed animosity between Behan and Wyatt Earp and to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Numerous other events between Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton, and others of the Clanton gang, actually sparked the gunfight; the feud between Behan and Earp was little more than a side show. On October 26, 1881, Josephine Marcus was at her home when she heard the sound of gunfire. Taking a wagon in the direction of the shots, Marcus was relieved to see that Earp was uninjured.

By 1882 Josephine had adopted the name of Josephine Earp, although no official record of their marriage exists. In I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus, Josephine wrote that she and Wyatt were married in 1892 aboard millionaire Lucky Baldwin's yacht. [Raymond Nez wrote that his grandparents witnessed their marriage aboard a yacht off the California coast.] Josephine was friends with Lucky Baldwin and wrote that she received money from him in exchange for her jewelry, eventually selling all of her jewelry to him.

Following what has been dubbed the "Earp Vendetta Ride", she and Earp traveled through various western states hunting for gold and silver. It is also said that they ran horse races in San Diego as well as operating saloons in Idaho and Alaska. During this period, they became a gambling team.

Josephine said of the time from between 1901~1929, "We would wander over the deserts of Nevada, Arizone and California with a camping outfit during the pleasant fall, winter and spring months. The hot summer months would be spent in Los Angeles." In the course of writing the Earp biography Lake learned some other aspects of her life. Wyatt became critically ill in late 1928 and died on January 13, 1929. Before Wyatt's biography was released soon after his death, Josephine traveled to Boston, MA, in an attempt to convince the publisher to stop the release of the book.

Much later in 1939 Josephine tried to stop 20th Century Fox from making a film based on the book, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. Under the condition that Wyatt's name be removed from the title, the movie was later released as Frontier Marshal from which she received royalties. In Los Angeles she became friends with many celebrities, including Cecil B. DeMille and Gary Cooper.

After Wyatt Earp's death, Josephine sought to get her own life story published and collaborated with Wyatt's cousins Mabel Earp Cason and Cason's sister Vinola Earp Ackerman. The cousins recorded events in her life but found Josephine was evasive about her early life in Tombstone. Mabel Cason 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."
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, which amateur historian Glen Boyer eventually acquired the rights to.

The University of Arizone Press published the book in 1967 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. Beginning in about 1994, critics began to challenge the accuracy of the book, and eventually many parts of the book were refuted as fictional and inaccurate. Ownership of the book, following Josephine's death, eventually fell to Glenn Boyer, following his obtaining rights from the relatives of Josephine Earp. In 1998, a series of articles in the Phonenix New Times, including interviews with amateur historian Glen Boyer, proved that Boyer invented large portions of the book. In 2000, the University responded to criticism of the university and the book and removed it from their catalog. 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 or relied on.

Josephine Earp spent her last years in Los Angeles, where she suffered from depression and other illnesses. She died on December 20, 1944, at 4004 W. 17th Street in the West Adams district of Los Angeles, CA. She was believed to be in her early 80s, perhaps as old as 83. Her body was cremated and buried next to Wyatt's remains in Colma, CA in the Marcus family plot at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park. Her parents and brother are buried nearby.

Edited from information found at Wikipedia

No comments:

Post a Comment