Wyatt Earp's wives
When someone on Facebook posted a picture of Wyatt Earp's gravestone I got curious about his wife. Not a student of Western history, I'd never given much thought to Wyatt Earp, but the relatively anonymous wives of famous historical figures have long intrigued me. (And it isn't just wives . . . I often find myself looking into the family history of people whose gravestones I've photographed for FindAGrave--as if I didn't have enough to do.) What I learned about Wyatt's wives taught me something about him.
Using only FindAGrave I discovered Wyatt had three wives. Well, one wife for sure, and two possibly (or possibly not) common-law wives.
The first wife was Urilla Sutherland, who married Wyatt in 1870 when they were both around 20. She developed typhoid fever the same year, shortly before their first child was about to be born, and both she and the baby died.
Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock married Wyatt in 1878, according to FindAGrave,. A former prostitute, she was 30 that year. Ten years later she died of opium poisoning, and her death was ruled a suicide. Suffering from severe headaches, she had become addicted to laudanum. I wonder if an accidental overdose would have been called suicide in those days. I think it's possible.
Mattie's death came six years after Wyatt took up with Josephine Sarah "Josie" Marcus, a professional dancer and actress who ran away from home as a young teenager looking for adventure. She may have worked for a time as a prostitute, using the name Sadie Mansfield. She was Wyatt Earp's common-law wife for 48 years, until his death.