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.

Sources differ about the exact date of her death, but most hold that Josephine Marcus Earp died on December 19, 1944. She 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.

Source: http://beta.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=279.

9 Comments

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History states that no marriage lic could be found. Back in those days, common law marriage was a common thing. Im not sure if the "real" history of the Earp brothers and the shootout at the OK corral can be proven due to the inconsistence of the facts. Yes history shows that they were acquited, but history also shows that Ike Clanton tried for several years to bring charges up against the Earps. The fact is that we are not even sure if its really the body of Johnny Ringo at the base of the tree. We don't even know the facts of how he died. Only speculation. All we know is Doc Holiday is buried in "a grave" Glennwood, CO. History states " this is possibly" where he is buried. I love the old west and would love to find out more about it. It's kinda like the mystery of where Billy the kid is buried and the history behind him. Only what others have put into their own words

I the picture of her in chair she has a nice wedding ring on. Look up Julius Caesar Brock , I own property in burro springs canyon have document about Wyatt visiting Brock in that canyon . And Ringo came and bought cattle from Brock way after he supposed of committed suicide . Julius Caesar Brock was the son of John Wilkes booth who again had Brock after he was surprise to be shot in the barn . Not true . Mr Brock was a mighty man , if anyone is interested. Call me 575-491-7188

im a relative to Wyatt Nicholas was my Great Great Great  uncle Josephine was my cousin through Wyatt according to what I’ve researched Josie passed from natural causes old age 

how did Josephine die ? 

In reply to by lisa connelly

Hi Lisa,

I haven't been able to locate this information. What I can tell you is that she died in 1944 around the age of 84 and most likely died penniless. She was the last surviving member of her immediate family and was buried next Wyatt's remains.

Thank you!
Bella

how did josehine earp die?

they were in Colorado when he took Doc to Glenwood Springs where Doc died at the young age of 36 yrs old but it was not to avoid to to jail they all were found acquitted which is still on going in law suits from young sidblings from both families

Someone needs to reresearch history. First of all they were never married only common law and second they didn't flee to Colorado to avoid prosecution they were acquitted of the murders in Tombstone.

In reply to by Troy

Was there a last will and testament for Josie Earp? I hear she had a nephew.

Photo thought to be of Josephine Earp.
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Death of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, widow of Wyatt." (Viewed on August 9, 2020) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/dec/31/1944/josephine-sarah-marcus-earp>.

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