Wyatt Earp’s Wife Was The Wildest Woman In The West, But We’re Still Unsure Of Her Identity

Being married to one of the Wild West’s most famous lawmen has got to give you a bit of street cred, but Josephine Earp was an icon in her own right. This fascinating woman was always enveloped in a cloak of mystery, though. Even during her own lifetime, she worked to obscure the truth about her mysterious past. And now, eight decades after her death, it’s difficult to tell exactly where the facts end and the fiction begins.

Josephine Earp

Known by several different names over the course of her long life, Josephine is most famous as the wife of Wyatt Earp — one of the central figures in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But from her early years in Arizona to her time camping out in the Sonoran Desert, she had plenty of adventures of her own.

Synonymous with the Wild West

But who really was Josephine? Was she, as she claimed, an innocent girl who ran away from home to work as a dancer — finding plenty of love and excitement along the way? Or did she actually live a far more salacious life? And what was the truth about her relationship with the man whose name is synonymous with the Wild West?

Early life

Unlike her later years, the early life of the future Mrs. Earp is actually fairly well documented, with few disputing the basic facts. Born Josephine Sarah Marcus in either 1860 or 1861 in New York City, she was the daughter of Prussian immigrants who had arrived in the United States some years before.

Journey to the west coast

In New York City, the Marcus family struggled to make ends meet. So when they heard about all the new opportunities on offer in the boomtown of San Francisco, they decided to relocate. When Josephine was seven years old, she boarded a ship with her parents and siblings and made the long and arduous journey to the west coast.