This Week in History


Death of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, widow of Wyatt

December 19, 1944

Josephine Sarah Marcus, born to German Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, NY, in 1861, grew up in San Francisco. Enchanted by a performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, she ran away from home at age 18 to join the theatre. On tour in Tombstone, Arizona, she met and married Wyatt Earp, then a deputy U.S. Marshal for the Arizona Territory.

In 1881, Wyatt Earp won lasting fame when he and his brothers fought a gun battle with their political rivals the Clanton gang at the O.K. Corral. Fleeing indictment for murder in the aftermath of the shootings, Wyatt and Josephine moved to Colorado.

The marriage of Wyatt and Josephine lasted another 48 years until Wyatt's death in 1929. During their married years, Wyatt and Josephine moved frequently around the American West, following gold, silver, and copper mining, until they settled in Southern California. There, they invested in real estate and racehorses, wrote Wyatt's autobiography, and drafted a screenplay based on his exploits. After Wyatt's death, Josephine contributed to published and film portrayals of Wyatt's life, helping to establish an enduring American legend.

Josephine Marcus Earp died on December 31, 1944, and was buried beside her husband in a Jewish cemetery in Northern California, where Wyatt's and Josephine's graves are, today, the primary local tourist attraction.

To learn more about Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp in the Virtual Archive.


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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Death of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, widow of Wyatt." (Viewed on April 24, 2014) <>.