Monday, April 6, 2020

Baby Doe Tabor and the Matchless Mine.



When my husband and I visited Leadville, Colorado--click here to read that post--we decided to visit the legendary Matchless Mine site. In 1879, silver tycoon, Horace Tabor, had purchased the richest silver mine of the time, an investment that brought in $2 billion by today’s standards.  Prospectors had first come to the Leadville area looking for placer gold in the 1860s but it was soon depleted. Siver Carbonate was discovered in 1878 and by the 1880s Leadville was the world's premier silver producer and a thriving metropolis.


Please Click On to Enlarge

We were also intrigued by the true saga of Baby Doe Tabor whose rags to riches to rags story was the subject of an opera "The Ballad of Baby Doe" that we saw a few years earlier in Central City, ColoradoBaby Doe was born Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt in 1854, one of fourteen children to a family of moderate means in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  She was known for her exceptional beauty of golden locks, large striking blue eyes, and petite figure.  She was also ambitious and wanted to marry out of poverty.  Elizabeth met and married Harvey Doe in 1877.  Harvey was an heir to a mining dynasty, as his father William Harvey Doe, Sr. owned a substantial number of mining claims in Colorado.  They moved to Central City, Colorado where her husband began mining for gold. The other miners found Elizabeth so beautiful that they started calling her “Baby Doe,” and the nickname stuck. After three years, her husband fell into debt and began drinking and soon afterward Baby Doe sued him for a divorce. She moved to Leadville, where she met the "Silver King," Horace Tabor, who was twice her age. They fell in love, but Tabor was married at the time and he divorced his wife of twenty-five years, Augusta, so that he and Baby Doe could be married in 1883.  Baby Doe's extravagant silk $7,000 wedding dress is part of the History Colorado Center's collection, and you can see it and read the interesting story about it on this link.



The couple became known as “The Silver King and Queen,” and for living an elaborate life together in a Capitol Hill mansion in Denver. They had two daughters, Elizabeth, known as “Lily” and Rose Mary, known as “Silver Dollar.” Many of Denver’s elite disapproved of the Tabor's and they especially shunned Baby Doe. Tabor's divorce and remarriage to the young and beautiful Baby Doe was the biggest scandal of the 1880s in Colorado. 
Tabor was one of the wealthiest men in Colorado, supporting his wife in an extravagant and lavish style, showering her with jewels and expensive clothes. Unfortunately, he eventually lost his fortune when the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act caused the Panic of 1893 depression, which resulted in widespread bankruptcies in silver-producing regions such as Colorado. He was destitute when he died in 1899, and Baby Doe returned to Leadville with her two daughters, living out the rest of her life there.



Legend has it that on his death bed Horace told Baby Doe to "...hold on the Matchless mine … it will make millions again when silver comes back." Baby Doe, loyal to her husband and hoping to regain her wealth, moved to Leadville to oversee the mine and got permission from the eventual new owners to live in the supply cabin at the Matchless Mine. Baby Doe spent the rest of her life in the small one-room cabin as seen in the photo above.


Inside the cabin

For nearly thirty-six years following Tabor's death, Elizabeth struggled to profit from the Matchless Mine. She was able to lease the property for various iron, zinc, manganese, and silver ore mining operations, though it never produced what it had during Leadville's great silver boom days. In her later years, Elizabeth became somewhat of a recluse and was seen wandering in Leadville, wearing rags on her feet.  After a snowstorm in March 1935, she was found frozen in her cabin, aged about 81 years.


Sadly, after her death, vandals broke into Baby Doe's cabin and stole everything. Many were looking for her legendary jewels, but most likely they had all been sold long before her death.


The "Best Dressed Woman in the West" and the last known photo of Baby Doe in 1933

Please Click on to Enlarge

Meanwhile, as fate would have it, Tabor's first wife, Augusta, went on to become a millionaire after their divorce by investing in the Singer Manufacturing Company which made sewing machines.


It's easy to see how the story of Horace Tabor and Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor's lives of riches, scandal, great love, debauchery, poverty, devotion, and tragic endings could be made into an opera and the inspiration for a movie and many books.     



 The Matchless Mine itself is surprisingly small in size.



Please Click On to Enlarge

During its profitable years, it produced 1.9 million dollars worth of silver--worth billions in today's economy.



Please Click on to Enlarge

In 2006 a rig drilled a new core hole to investigate deposits of the Matchless Mine and it was determined that almost all the valuable high-grade silver had been removed by Horace Tabor's miners in the 1880s, leaving the area worthless as a mine, but rich in history.


I hope during this new time in history, the Worldwide Novel Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, that everyone is staying healthy, practicing social distancing, and staying home as much as possible to flatten the curve of transmission. We are thankful that as of this writing all our relatives and friends in Italy, New York City and here in Colorado are all healthy.  I am praying during this Holy Week before Easter for a successful vaccine to be developed and a cure for those who are ill with COVID-19 here and around the world.  Stay safe and strong!

You can also find me on 


I'm linking this post to the following blog events:

 Mosaic Monday, All SeasonsBlue Monday, Through My Lens MondayLittle Cottage Link Party
 Hearth, and Soul Link PartyYou Are the Star Blog Hop, Inspire Me Monday,  Good Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialTravel Photos, Photo TunesHappiness Is HomemadeOver the Moon, Our World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesday Turn AboutTuesdays With A TwistLet's Keep In TouchWordless Wednesday on a TuesdaySay Cheese!,  Party in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayNanahood WWOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful Wednesday, Your Whims WednesdayWorldless  Wednesday My Corner of the WorldWonderful Wednesday Little Things ThursdayThankful ThursdayThursday Encouraging Hearts and HomeFull Plate ThursdayFriendship FridaysFriday Features Linky Party, Skywatch Friday,   Pink SaturdaySaturday Critters
 Grammys Grid-Month Long Linky Party

Bookmark and Share






34 comments:

EricaSta said...

Never heard before of Baby Doe. Interesting to read. Thank you for sharing. Happy MosaicMonday.

Stay healthy

diane b said...

Wow! What an interesting story. I feel sorry for her though ending up like that.

Gillena Cox said...

Yes indeed we should pray
Stay Safe

much love...

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

The rag to riches story are always interesting. I wonder how many people now are investing in silver and gold rather than the stick market. Elizabeth Tabor had an exciting life. Very sad about the vandals and theft. Take care & stay safe! Wishing you a happy day and a great new week!

April J Harris said...

I so enjoyed reading this post, Pat! What an interesting place to visit and an interesting story too! What a colourful life Baby Doe had. I felt quite sorry for Augusta, so I was pleased to hear things ended well for her, although sad to hear how Baby Doe ended up. Thank you so much for sharing, and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Community! Take care and stay well.

Sandi Magle said...

What an interesting post. It's always fun to peek into the lives of the infamous, and mining seems to have it shares of scandalous stories. I really want to put this on my have to go there, list. Thanks for sharing, Sandi

Dawn said...

Wow what an amazing story and history. I love stuff like this. Thank you for sharing. It truly would make a great movie or book. Maybe you should pitch the idea.
Stay safe
Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

Vee said...

What a fascinating story. I am glad that Augusta did well after having her husband turn his affections to someone else and I am sad that Baby Doe turned out that way. She must have been strong person.

You be well. I hope that you are able to get out for fresh air, sunshine, and some exercise on those beautiful trails.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That was a sad story and one that is interesting to learn more about. Love seeing the old photo of her as the best dressed in the West! Thanks for sharing. Take care my friend! Hugs!

From the Kitchen said...

I set aside the morning newspaper to read your post with my first cup of coffee. I'm so glad I did. Very interesting history. I found myself wanting to know more so I spent some time with Google (my new best friend).

Best,
Bonnie

Jeanie said...

You must be extra frantic with all the virus news from Italy. Your family is Calabria, isn't it? That's where my neighbor is from. I understand the virus is far less in the south, so I'm most grateful that so far your family and friends are well.

This reminds me a bit of Molly Brown except it is MUCH more opera than Broadway musical. How very sad, this story, especially her tragic end. It would be fascinating to visit the site and the mine. I had heard of the opera, of course, but didn't really know the story. Thanks for sharing it.

Ruth Hiebert said...

That is a most interesting story.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

That's quite a story, the mining industry in the west had lots of boom and bust stories.

Angie said...

Pat - a truly fascinating story about Baby Doe. Another lesson for all of us not to squander our possessions; one never knows what the future brings! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday. Like you, I am praying for a medical resolution to the crisis. Glad to hear your family is well; same with ours.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

I remember studying her in Colorado history class. You’ve done a wonderful job of telling Bany Doe’s story I,too, am hoping and praying all is well with everyone this Holy Week and Easter. My best to you and yours!!

NanaHood said...

What a story with a very sad ending! Stay safe friend! Great post!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Her story would make for an interesting TV or movie script. Thanks for sharing it, and the photos. Take care out there.

Powell River Books said...

That was really interesting, probably because I've been to Leadville. I love learning about the places I've been or plan to visit. - Margy

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Sad, but fascinating, story. I love your glimpses of Colorado history.

Fun60 said...

A fascinating post. That'a saga waiting to be filmed.

RobertN said...

Very interesting trip, thank you.

XmasDolly said...

I love visiting antique places. Ahhhhh If the walls could only talk, right? I love antiques. I have 2 end tables that I keep up in my attic that were my grandmothers that I will pass down to my daughters. I hope they shall love them as much as I do. That would be their great-grandmother's. Some day they could really be worth something if they take care of them. Such a sad story! Thank you so much for sharing. Stay healthy & stay safe!

Jeanna said...

That is one of the saddest stories I've ever read and being from Oskosh by gosh makes it worse. A sweet revenge for the first wife though. Didn't they have financial planners back then?

betty-NZ said...

What a great life she had, a scrapper til the end! I'm glad you retold her story for us with great photos and great words :)

I'm delighted to read your post at 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks for linking up!

Elkes Lebensglück said...

Interesting story! Great photos of Colorado
Greetings Elke

NCSue said...

An interesting story. Thank you for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/04/from-archives-jordan-lake.html
Hoping you are well and remain in good health!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

A fascinating story, start to finish! Glad you and yours are safe and healthy.

Jim said...

Fascinating.

Michelle said...

Wow, Baby Doe had quite the life! Also like the way the first wife ended up well off :) Thanks for linking up. I always learn something new with your posts.

R's Rue said...

Beauty.

MarilynsTreats said...

Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Pleas stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

handmade by amalia said...

What a story! And great photos too.
Amalia
xo

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

You do such a great job integrating your own pictures into your reporting. it’s such a fun way to learn history ...(I knew a little about Baby Doe, but *now* I will remember it, because I learned more about her life from a friend.) A virtual friend of course ... but actually everyone I know is now a virtual person )). I hope you two and all of your families everywhere continue to remain healthy. We are doing well and very glad to be home in Oregon. (Where, unlike in Florida, the Governor doesn’t think wrestling meets and beach parties are essential activities).

Rambling Woods said...

You have the most interesting historical posts..thank you...Michelle