Monday, September 4, 2017

Pioneering Prostitutes of Tombstone - Part 1

Back in the days where there were no food stamps, welfare, or other types of government assistance, some women were in dire need of a man - father, brother, or husband - for support.  Without one, even respectable employment opportunities for most were limited to menial jobs such as seamstress, cook or laundress.  These jobs barely paid survival wages.  These conditions forced many young women to make a choice between suicide and scandal.

Those who chose a life of easy virtue were assured survival, for a while anyway, and an above average income.  It was a tough existence, but for some, better than suicide. One of those who ended it all was Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp's second wife who died in her crib on July 3, 1888.  It was from an overdose of laudanum and whiskey.  Below are just a few of Tombstone's famous ladies of the evening.

Josephine Marcus - Wyatt Earp's third wife
Kate Harony (Big Nose Kate) opened Tombstone's first bordello.  Also known as Doc Holliday's combative girlfriend.
Jessie Jo came to Tombstone with a husband who spent time drinking and gambling.  She turned to prostitution to support herself.
"Lizette the Flying Nymph" arrived in Tombstone with the Monarch Carnival Company.  Once there she decided to move into a new entertainment arena.
"Faro Nell" was a card dealer at Danner and Owens Saloon, but soon found she could demand a much higher price in a town where women were scarce.
"China Mary" was known to run Tombstone's Chinese quarter with an iron hand.  Anyone desiring a Chinese prostitute had to first see Mary.

Hi everybody and thanks for stopping by!  I've always been fascinated with "the wild west" in the Arizona Territory, and Tombstone, in particular.  I hope you enjoyed my story about some famous women from years ago and next month I'll finish with some women who found their way to Tombstone and their stories.

Hope to see you then.


  1. It was not an easy choice for some I'm sure. Survival can make a person do things they'd never conceive of normally. Thanks for the start of some interesting women and the choices they made. Doris

    1. Isn't that the truth. Thanks for stopping by, Doris!

  2. So sad women were forced to choose such a life. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The photo is not Josephine Marcus, but a pinup from World War I.