Friday, March 4, 2011

I Ain't Sayin' She's a Gold Digger

But, she was a silver digger....

 Being a Colorado native and being enchanted by all things scandalous, the story of Baby Doe Tabor absolutely fascinated me as a young girl. Especially since I found most of Colorado history to be quite boring: mountains, blah, blah, blah, homesteaders, blah, blah, blah, miners, blah, blah, blah, religious fundamentalists, blah, blah, blah. But when my grade school teacher taught the class about Baby Doe Taber, I stopped doodling on my Liza Frank notebook, and paid attention.

Here's the story of Baby Doe:

     She was born Elizabeth McCourt in 1854 in Oshkosh, WI. At the age of 17, she married Harvey Doe and moved to Central City, CO where he owned The Fourth of July silver mine. The miners in Central City loved her and Elizabeth soon earned the nickname "Baby Doe" due to her charm and beauty. At the same time, Harvey fell into some financial troubles and developed a drinking problem. Determined to make sure the silver mine made money, she caused quite a stir in the mining community when she put on mining gear and worked her husband's mine herself. Get it, girl.
In 1879, she caught the eye of a wealthy mine owner, Horace Tabor. He was 24 years her senior. Ew. (Not that I'm judging). Horace fell in love with Baby Doe and wanted to marry her. There was just one problem...well two problems: they were both already married.
    
     Baby Doe got her divorce first, which was pretty easy considering that Harvey was now a wino. But, Horace had a harder time. His wife Augusta refused to grant him a divorce. He tried everything, even bribing a Durango county clerk to paste the record pages together that detailed Augusta's divorce denial. Pretty sneaky sis. Eventually, Horace decided "F- it" and married Baby Doe in St. Louis in a justice of the peace ceremony in 1892. In 1893, Horace finally got his divorce. So, yeah he had two wives for a year.
I should mention that during this time, Horace Tabor was running for a seat in the Senate. I know what you're thinking: "A senator involved in some sort of scandal? Unheard of!"
    
     And the scandal doesn't end there. Baby Doe and Horace were married again, in a public ceremony in Washington D.C. But when the Catholic priest who performed the ceremony found out that they were both divorced, he refused to sign the marriage license. Dang, Horace just couldn't catch a break.
The couple returned to Colorado where they started their life together overseeing The Matchless Mine.  But, once again, Baby Doe was married to a dude who made poor investments and the two were soon broke. Baby Doe did what she did best, she worked the mine as much as she could. Horace died in 1899 and his dying words were: "Hold on to the Matchless Mine. It will make millions." So, Baby Doe did. But the mine did not make millions.
    
     Eventually, Baby Doe had to sell the mine. The people who bought it allowed her to stay in the cabin on the property. At this point Baby Doe was living in poverty, wearing rags and relying on charity. I remember my teacher telling me that Baby Doe would walk 82 miles from Leadville to Denver, in nothing but rags on her feet, to get food supplies. OK, I bought this as a kid, but now I think this reeks of Paul Bunyan-tall-tale-ness. Lying to kids? Not cool.
    
     Anyway, one cold Colorado day in 1935, the owners of the mine noticed that there wasn't any smoke coming from Baby Doe's cabin chimney. They opened the cabin door and found Baby Doe's frozen dead body. Yeesh.
    
     See, this story has it all: Love, Scandal, Tragedy. In fact, the story caught the public fascination so much that there was an opera written about Baby Doe.

I couldn't write an opera, but I did make a necklace: http://www.etsy.com/listing/64357482/baby-doe-tabor-necklace-victorian

Also, use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire purchase.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite necklaces. I love the image you used, but also the findings and the colors are fab! Plus, who doesnt love the combination of Love, Scandal and Tragedy??

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