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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Leadville: the legend of Lizzie Tabor

Book by Judy Temple

Book by Judy Temple

It’s appropriate that we’re on our way to Leadville today, because I’ve just finished reading an academic dissection of one of Colorado’s early controversial frontier women.

Baby Doe Tabor, as she is most often called, was born in Wisconsin to a large Irish Catholic family and came to Colorado with her first husband, Harvey Doe. She earned the nickname Baby in the mining camps .. exactly what it meant about her personality and character is analyzed, along with just about everything else about her life and personality, in Temple’s book.

Lizzie’s second husband, Horace Tabor, became a silver millionaire when some of the mines he had gained interests in took off. Then the market for silver crashed when the U.S. government chose gold as the sole currency standard and he lost everything within a decade of becoming rich. The couple had two children.

Horace, who was called the “Silver King” and aspired to a career in politics, died in 1899, leaving Lizzie penniless with two daughters. Allegedly, her husband told her to “hold on to the Matchless,” his most productive mine above Leadville – she lived on the property in a shack until her death in 1935.

There’s much more to this story that I haven’t recounted and it delves heavily into frontier morality, gender politics and Catholic mysticism (Lizzie’s “dreams and visions,’ scrawled on bits of paper as she froze in her cabin, were the basis for much of the original source research).

It’ll be interesting to see what influences Leadville takes today from the Tabor tale.


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