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The Phillips Collection featuring

Josephine Earp

By Cathleen Briley
Josephine Sarah Marcus was born in New York, in 1861 to Prussian-Jewish parents. In 1868, the Marcus family moved to San Francisco. Josephine enjoyed a decent education that was supplemented by dancing and singing lessons.

In the fall of 1878, Josephine traveled with a dancing troupe to Arizona territory. She arrived in Tombstone, Arizona Territory in 1880 and became involved with Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan. Behan had commitment issues, and after much ado, Josie let go of Behan and moved her attentions towards Wyatt Earp. She would, well, for most of the time, have Wyatt's undivided attention as his common-law wife for the next 46 years.

The following photo from the Phillips Collection is of Josephine Earp:
Josephine Earp
Wyatt and Josephine spent the years after Tombstone either traveling, being involved in mining ventures, or owning saloons. Since Wyatt had a tendency to include a brothel in his establishments, there were rumors of infidelity. At times, the Earp's were filthy rich and, at times, struggled with money to such a degree that they had to rely on family for support. Josie loved to gamble on horse racing and could amass great debts. She was, by most accounts, a strong willed and difficult woman. But, Wyatt and Josephine maintained their relationship no matter the circumstances, no matter how much money that had in the bank, or how difficult it might have been.

Josephine stood by her man and went to great lengths to protect their public image during their entire relationship. The events surrounding the shootout in Tombstone and Wyatt's involvement in fixing a boxing match made headlines and they were subjects that seemed to plague Josephine wherever they traveled or settled. As a result, she was always running offense where her husband was concerned. When her memoirs were being written late in her life, Josephine did all she could to be evasive about their past, particularly about the rumors of another wife (Mattie Blaylock who committed suicide in 1888), which was very counterproductive and frustrating for all those involved.

Cary Lane, Ph.D., a leading Professor of Forensic Arts from John Jay College, performed facial regression analysis on this photo of Josephine comparing it to authenticated photos of an older Jospehine and found several facial consistencies, but inconsistencies in the shape of the nose. However, as Josie got older, the shape of her nose widened and flattened which is consistent with aging and weight gain.

Lane also performed the same analysis comparing our Josephine to the face in another photo believed by Ann Kirschner, Josephine Earp biographer, to be that of a 16-year-old Josephine. Mr. Lane concluded that "There is little evidence to suggest that this is not the same subject in both images."

For comparison purposes, the two photos mentioned are placed side by side. The photo on the left is believed to be 16-year-old Josephine and is courtesy of Ann Kirschner's book about the life of Josephine Earp. The photo on the right is from the Phillips Collection:
Josephine Earp
Josephine Earp
Wyatt Earp passed away in 1929. In a letter to John H. Flood, Wyatt Earp's secretary and biographer, Josephine Earp includes a postscript in which she says, "Oh, how I miss Mr. Earp."
Courtesy of icollector.com
Josephine went on protecting her husband's reputation until she passed away in 1944.
Sources:

Josephine Earp. (2015, August 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:36, September 24, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Josephine_Earp&oldid=676328648

Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp, by Ann Kirschner, HarperCollins, 2013

http://www.icollector.com/Josephine-Earp-ALS_i9901573, October 7, 2015
© Cathleen Briley
October 30, 2015 Feature

The Phillips Collection :

Introduction | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

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