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Secrets of Wyatt Earp and the O.K. Corral

Tombstone circa 1882

Tombstone circa 1882

Josephine - the 4th "wife"

Josephine - the 4th "wife"

Wyatt Earp in 1882

Wyatt Earp in 1882

The Earp Gang

The Earp Gang

The gunfight zone

The gunfight zone

It is American legend. The Wild West where just about anything happened out in the frontier. Many movies over the years have depicted this historic event called, "The shootout at the O.K. Corral" in Tombstone, AZ. It was between Sheriff Wyatt Earp and other members against the Clantons, a notorious bunch of thugs who chased women and robbed incoming silver shipments. It was the real thing, opposing groups armed with six-shooters waiting for someone to draw. When it was over, the Clantons were dead or running. Now, Wyatt Earp could try to create a model frontier law abiding town.

The funny thing is Wyatt Earp was part sheriff and part criminal. He ran a local brothel, operated cassinos and ripped off others in land deals. He was a womanizer and chaser, being married four times, well actually, once, the other three were not formal marriages just cohabitation. His first wife died while in childbirth, a son. His second "wife" was an addict.

It was his fourth "wife", Josephine Marcus, that seemed to really be "love", for they stayed together for over 40 years. However, the evolution is like any modern love twist. She had come to Tombstone to perform in a Gilbert\Sullivan production of "HMS Pinafore" and met Earp's rival, Johnny Behan, often with the Clanton gang. She had an affair while Behan was still married. When the show was over, she returned to San Francisco but Behan soon followed, wooing her to come back to AZ. She did. That relationship was stormy because of his infidelity.

Angry and hurt, Marcus, 18, met Wyatt Earp, 32. As time went on, both men competed for her affections and pissed one another off. This was a year before the showdown. Earp was now with his third "wife" and soon would choose Marcus to live with. When Earp broke off the relationship with the third victim, she committed suicide but only after becoming a prostitute.

The shootout was part about relationships and jealousy and part about illegal activities. Once done, both moved to various places- San Diego, Nome, Hollywood. Earp was successful in land speculation and horse racing until his death in 1929. She died in 1944.


Paul Loyd on December 17, 2018:

Wyatt loved his first wife (the only one he ever formally and legally married), but she died very young. Her death sent him on a downward spiral for a couple of years before he straightened himself out. The others were common law wives, including Josephine Marcus. The photo you use of Wyatt is indeed Doc Holliday. And the photo titled “Earp’s gang” is actually known to history as The Dodge City Peace Commission and was led by Luke Short, not Earp. Wyatt is seated 2nd from the left, Bat is standing 2nd from the right. Luke Short is standing 2nd from left. Also included are Charlie Bassett and 3 others whose names escape me at the moment, but all were well known lawmen/gunfighters of the era.

perrya (author) on June 12, 2016:

Thanks, what you say is true,

Paul on June 10, 2016:

Fairly good synopsis of Wyatt, except that those illegal activities you mention weren't illegal in those days. They weren't exactly respectable, but they were perfectly legal.

larry on February 18, 2016:

lol jealousy and relationships, yes i can beleive that lol

Lady Kroft on November 08, 2015:

This is not a picture of Wyatt Earp. This picture is of Doc Holiday.

perrya (author) on May 27, 2013:


someonewhoknows from south and west of canada,north of ohio on May 27, 2013:

Wyatt Earp was quite an interesting character and your hub on him as the subject matter is certainly very well done.Reminds me of why they called it "THE WILD WILD WEST"

Uncle Remus on April 01, 2013:

I gots me a cart that I put crushed beer cans in, it run on big macs and cheetos

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