How About Those Earp Women

Morgan Earps wife Louisa Houston

Were any of the Earp women Prostitutes? Yes, you might say all of them dabble in the trade at one time or another. Allie was a former prostitute, as was Louisa, Josie, and Mattie. James Earp’s wife Bessie was a madam as was Sallie Earp, aka Sarah Haspel. Wyatt’s “wife” in Peoria. She and Bessie co-owned a brothel. As far as we know Louisa and Allie were short timers. There were several women named “Earp” on the arrest books in Peoria, Dodge City and other towns.

Author Don Chaput, in The Earp Papers: In A Brothers Image, describes their extensive involvement in prostitution from Dodge City, Peoria to Tombstone and Nome.

Those were different times and a lot of vices were tolerated that wouldn’t be acceptable today, especially in the raw frontier towns. Prostitution was tolerated because of the scarcity of women. Also, women didn’t have many choices for jobs and they could make good money working in bordellos. The trick (no pun intended) was to not make a career out of it. Quit before the drugs, or disease got the best of you. Or, if they had good business sense, they could open their own bordello and hire others to do the “ceiling watching.”

The Earp’s brothers were sporting men as were the women they associated with. They were not any different than others of their ilk during those times.

Despite some of the rackets the Earp’s were associated with. I admire them. especially Virgil. When comparing them with their peers, especially the outlaws and Cow-boys, they come out looking like knights in shining armor.

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