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Roger Jay
Mansfield/Marcus (Part One)
Tue Mar 19, 2013 13:09

What follows is a summary of the research that went into the article, "Face To Face: Sadie Mansfield/Josephine Sarah Marcus," (Wild West History Association Journal, February 2013) and the conclusions that research led to. In it, I focused on Josephine's youth from ages 14 to 22 (1874-1882), the primary evidence for which is found in her memoir, "The Cason Manuscript." To show that during this time Josie assumed the identity of Sadie Mansfield, a prostitute, it was necessary first, to correct or disprove the narrative in Chapters 1-3 of the Cason Ms., and second, to establish Sadie's activities as the explanation for the discredited portions of Josie's story.

My summary breaks into three sections: 1) What Josie says; 2)What's wrong with what she says; 3) How Sadie Mansfield fits in.

What Josie says:
In late 1879, she and her friend Dora Hirsch, whose mother gave Josie music lessons, joined the actress Pauline Markham's troupe in San Francisco and set out on a stagecoach journey to Prescott, Arizona. There they were to perform in the play H.M.S. Pinafore. Traveling with the cast was Markham's maid, a black woman named Julia. Before the stagecoach reached Prescott, reports of marauding Indians diverted the travelers to a ranch house. Here Josie met John Behan and developed a romantic interest in him. Homesick, Josie and Dora decided to abandon their budding careers and return to their families in San Francisco. This is Josie's explanation for how she first came to Arizona and began a relationship with John Behan.

What's wrong with what she says:
Pauline Markham's Pinafore troupe did travel to Arizona in October 1879, but by train, not by stagecoach. Their route did not take them to Prescott, but to Tucson. The train trip proceeded without diversion from Indians. So Josie could not have traveled with Markham as she describes. Could she have been a member of the troupe at all? Several newspapers named the women who were members of Markham's troupe. All the actresses were professionals, none was Josie or Dora. In fact, Josie did not have a friend named Dora Hirsch. The real name of Josie's friend was Leah Hirschberg, whose mother was indeed a music teacher. The Hirschbergs lived only a few blocks from Josie's family. Leah did not leave San Francisco with Josie. Instead, Leah became a prominent juvenile actress on the San Francisco stage during the 1870s. There is no evidence Josie was ever an actress or a member of Pauline Markham's Pinafore troupe.

How Sadie Mansfield fits in:
In November 1874, Sadie made a stagecoach journey from San Francisco to Prescott. (As did Josie.) She was one of a party of prostitutes working for a madam named Hattie Wells, who kept a brothel half a block from the school Josie attended on Powell Street, San Francisco. Accompanying the prostitutes to Prescott was a black woman named Julia Burton. (According to Josie, Pauline Markham's maid was a black woman named Julia.) In December 1874, in Prescott, Sadie had multiple sexual encounters with John Behan. May 1875, Behan's wife filed for divorce, naming Sadie as the woman with whom he had committed adultery.

    • Little problem, Roger. K.t.K., Tue Mar 19 18:51
      You mention that the Pinafore troupe traveled to Arizona in October 1879 by train, not by stagecoach. Their route did not take them to Prescott, but to Tucson. Actually the first rail service into... more
      • Re: Little problem, Roger. Roger Jay, Tue Mar 19 19:09
        The Pinafore troupe went as far as Casa Grande by train and then a short lap to Tucson by stage. This is a detail that is in the article.
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