We have a guest blogger this month, Donna Baier Stein.
Welcome, Donna! Thanks for taking time to visit us here
"A Woman Who Refused to Be Made a Fool by Any Man, a Slave by Any Rule, or a Pauper by Any Loss."
By Donna Baier Stein
Colorado’s Baby Doe Tabor was a fiercely independent woman who bucked all her era’s social expectations.
|Baby Doe Tabor|
The newlyweds settled into a run-down cabin in Dogwood. Harvey proved to be an unfortunate choice for a husband and succumbed to the lures of opium and brothels. When he failed to do the work required, Lizzie overcame superstition to work side-by-side with the men down in the shafts. It wasn’t an easy task, since many miners believed that even seeing a woman before they descended into a mine was bad luck.
But at only 5’ tall, hard-working Lizzie won the hearts of her fellow miners, who gave her the nickname “Baby Doe.” She was even written up in a local Central City newspaper.
When she discovered Harvey in bed with a prostitute, she divorced him and made her way alone to the booming town of Leadville. There she caught the attention of the much older Horace “Silver King” Tabor. At the time, Tabor was married to Augusta, with whom he had a son Maxey. To everyone’s dismay, Tabor and Lizzie began an affair, with Tabor putting his mistress up in a suite at the Clarendon Hotel. He visited her by crossing a catwalk between the hotel and his eponymous Opera House.
In 1883, Horace was named to finish the term of a Colorado Senator. After he divorced Augusta, he and Lizzie were married in an extraordinarily lavish wedding at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. President Chester Arthur and his Cabinet attended, though none of the Cabinet members’ wives deigned to honor the nuptials of two divorced Catholics. At the time of their marriage, Horace Tabor was worth about $24 million. He gave Lizzie a $90,000 necklace that had once belonged to Queen Isabella and a wedding gown that cost $7,000.00.
Horace built Lizzie a square-block villa to live in upon their return to Denver. There, one hundred peacocks roamed among nude statues on the rolling lawns. The Tabors entertained the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, and other famous actors and musicians who performed at the Tabor Opera Houses in Denver and Leadville.
Unfortunately, ten years after the extravagant wedding in DC, the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and a devastating stock market crash wiped out Horace’s vast fortune.
|The cabin Lizzie lived in during the last 35 years of her life|
An American opera called The Ballad of Baby Doe was written by Douglas Moore. It was recently performed at the Central City Opera House for its sixtieth anniversary. While the opera focuses primarily on the love triangle between Lizzie, Horace, and Augusta, Lizzie’s life reveals she was much more than just a mistress in someone else’s story.
Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron's Wife, Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist), and Sometimes You Sense the Difference. She founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. She received a scholarship from Bread Loaf, a Fellowship from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, three Pushcart nominations, and prizes from the Allen Ginsberg Awards and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Puerto del Sol, Writer’s Digest, and elsewhere. She is currently completing a new collection of stories based on Thomas Hart Benton’s lithographs. www.donnabaierstein.com
The Silver Baron’s Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado’s Baby Doe Tabor, who was featured in one of the West’s most scandalous love stories. A divorcee shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters and after her second husband's death, lived in eccentric isolation at the still-standing Matchless Mine in Leadville. An early draft of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction. https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Barons-Donna-Baier-Stein/dp/0997101067