Baby Doe’s Box: Watching for Horace
Celebrating Women’s History in March
In honor of Women’s History Month which is celebrated in March, here’s a little known story (often refuted!) about Baby Doe Tabor, one of Leadville’s most notable women.
There has been so much written about Leadville’s famous Tabors – Horace, August, Baby Doe, Silver Dollar – that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Most readers have heard the story about Horace Tabor’s dying request to Baby Doe to, “Hang on to the Matchless Mine, if I die, Baby; it will make millions again when silver comes back.”
And then there are the stories of Baby Doe’s final years, living in poverty up at the Matchless Mine, how she would wrap her feet in gunny sacks (or old newspapers) tied together with twine. Baby Doe was eventually found frozen to death on the floor of the tiny cabin, some say, arms outstretched, in the shape of a cross. Who could have guessed that a mine that had been deemed worthless on more than one occasion and had been named after a chewing tobacco could rise to such unequaled notoriety?
A slight pause here for those NOT familiar with the Matchless Mine story. The overview goes something like this: After years of making money for a lot of other people, Horace Tabor wanted a Leadville mine to call his own and purchased the Matchless in September of 1879 for $117,000. Up until then, the mine was a true underdog being bought, sold, and bartered numerous times without striking a decent vein. In fact, it took a full year for Tabor’s investment to pay off, but boy did it, to the tune of $2,000 a day in silver.
Needless to say, the early 1880s were the gravy years for Horace and Baby Doe. There were lavish parties and extravagant displays of their immense wealth.
In fact, one of those crown jewels of wealth was displayed on the corner of 7th Street and Harrison: The Tabor Grand Hotel. When it opened its doors in 1885, this Grand Hotel was an incredible testament to Tabor’s fortune.
However, there is a bond between The Matchless Mine and The Tabor Grand Hotel that many may not have heard. However, this story describes a certain simpleness to the Tabors’ day-to-day lives – beneath all of the glitz, all of the wealth, and all of the scandals.
Locally, it’s known as Baby Doe’s balcony. You can see this unique architectural feature if you’re standing on the northwest corner of 7th and Harrison, looking west. See the balcony off the old Tabor Grand Hotel over 7th Street?
This perch wasn’t in the original design of the four-story brick building. In fact, you won’t see the jutting balcony in any of the early pictures of this sizable building. It’s a little bit of history that hasn’t been represented in all of the books, plays, and movies are written about the Tabor saga.
And that’s because its purpose was so simple, so functional. You see, Leadville’s legendary Horace Tabor built this overhanging porch for Baby Doe – so she could watch for him walking home from the Matchless Mine, down East 7th Street.
It was built so that she could see up Fryer Hill and keep an eye out for her husband coming home from work. Back then, there were no cell phones or text messages, so Baby Doe would sit and wait to see her beloved walking down East 7th Street, walking home from work at the Matchless. On first sight, she’d start dinner!
Sometimes, women’s history is just about day to day living. It’s about Leadville people going about their lives, In The ‘Ville. Here’s to all my strong Leadville Sisters! Celebrate Women’s History Month!
© 2013 Kathy Bedell.
Centennial Celebrations Continue for 19th Amendment
Bold Women. Change History. The Summit to be held Wednesday, May 27 is a one-day gathering that highlights the power of women to “create our future, lead our present, and shape our history.” This interactive day held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will feature bold women who take risks and innovate in ways worth replicating and who demonstrate a powerful spectrum of leadership. In short and energizing talks, women leaders from many fields will share how they show up, create, disrupt, and transform our communities.
As part of the centennial commemoration of the 19th Amendment, The Summit continues to expand the ways in which we understand power and leadership. The day culminates with an evening conversation between two of the nation’s top scholars on the story of the fight for the women’s vote.
Early Bird Price is available but with limited quantity, now through March 23. $65 History Colorado Member / $75 General Admission. Regular Ticket Price – $90 History Colorado Member / $100 General Admission. Scholarships are available. Please contact email@example.com for an application.
Sign up to receive information about Bold Women. Change History. The Summit.
About The Summit: Create. Lead. Shape.
Access to the Summit! Immerse yourself in a day of shared learning, important conversations, and collaborative discovery at the History Colorado Center in downtown Denver. The day will include small breakout sessions, a lunchtime keynote with Kim Jordan, access to curated self-care experiences, and more!
- Breakfast and Lunch
- Start the day off with a light breakfast and enjoy a delicious catered lunch at the venue.
- Full Museum Access
- Explore ten exhibits that will capture the individualistic spirit of Colorado, including Hecho en Colorado; Liberated: Commemorating 75 Years Since the End of World War II; Beer Here! Brewing the New West; What’s Your Story?; Women Behaving Badly; and Written on the Land (a $14 value). Learn more.
- Networking & Community Building
- The opportunity to engage and form new relationships with a cross-section of leaders, innovators, social healers, activists, thinkers, and kindred strangers. Leave with newfound momentum and an engaged network of collaborators.
- A Ticket to Bold Women. Change History. | Dawn Teele and Sally Roesch Wagner
- Your ticket to an evening conversation between two of the nation’s top scholars on the story of the fight for the women’s vote (A $25 value). Learn more.
Keynote Speaker: Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewing
Kim Jordan is co-founder, chair of the board, and former CEO of New Belgium Brewing. Jordan has developed expertise at the intersection of business, the environment, and the community to create one of the most respected craft breweries and innovative businesses in America.
Her lifelong commitment to developing healthy communities has informed New Belgium’s culture through progressive policies like employee ownership, open-book management, and philanthropic giving. In more than a quarter-century as an entrepreneur, Jordan has spoken to thousands of people in the business, nonprofit, and academic worlds about how to create a vibrant and rewarding work culture that enhances the bottom line.
Jordan has been a director on many diverse boards over the years including the Brewers Association, 1% for the Planet, and the Governor’s Renewable Energy Authority Board. She continues to serve on boards where she believes her progressive business philosophy can make a difference on important issues.
Celebrate Women’s History during March in Leadville Today!