Pearl de Vere
- Soiled Dove of Cripple Creek
Pearl de Vere arrived in
Colorado from Denver during the Silver Panic of 1893. When the
country moved to the gold standard, millionaires, including the likes of
lost their fortunes and businesses were effected all over the city. This
included the many houses of ill-repute.
Pearl de Vere was
well known in Denver as Mrs. Martin and had obtained a small fortune from
her services to the wealthy gentlemen of Denver. However, when the
first slowdown occurred in the city, the wise Ms. Pearl headed to the
booming gold camp of
Purchasing a small frame house on Myers
Avenue, she opened up for "business” and was an overnight success. Pearl,
at 31, was described as red-haired, beautiful, strong willed, and a smart
Though little is known of her background,
historians believe that she was raised near Evansville, Indiana by a
good family, who thought that Pearl worked as a dress designer to the
wealthy wives of the area.
Pearl de Vere's grave is
still decorated with flowers, Kathy Weiser, September, 2009.
This image available for photographic prints
|Catering to the more
prosperous gentlemen of
Cripple Creek, Pearl’s ladies
were the most beautiful of any parlour in the camp, wore fine
clothing, received monthly medical exams, and were paid well. And though the "good” women of
Cripple Creek shuddered at
the thought, Pearl pranced through the camp in a small open carriage,
led by a team of fine black horses almost daily. Dressed in a
different beautiful costume on every outing, her clothes were the envy
of the women and produced the desired effect on the men, as they
stared at her with longing.
Horrified at Pearl’s outings and the fact that Pearl’s
ladies dared to shop on Bennett Avenue, the "good” women of the camp
complained. Soon, Marshal Wilson regulated the shopping hours of
"the girls,” allowing them to visit the stores only during "off
hours.” In addition, each "working lady” was required to pay a
six dollar monthly tax and madams were charged sixteen dollars a
month. However, business was brisk and this did little to
diminish the popularity of the parlor houses. Meanwhile, Pearl
continued her lively forays in her carriage through the streets of the
were forbidden to walk near
Myers Avenue and were made to shield their eyes when
Pearl paraded by in her fine carriage.
Soon, Pearl would meet a man
named C.B. Flynn, the owner of a small mill. The two married in
1895; however, Pearl continued to run her profitable business. Not long after they were married, a fire raged through the camp,
destroying Pearl’s business, Flynn’s mill, and most of the business
district of the camp.
The fire ruined Flynn
financially and in order to get back on his feet, he accepted a job
smelting iron and steel and Monterrey, Mexico. However, Pearl
intent on rebuilding her business. And rebuild, she did, with
the finest parlour house that the city had ever seen. Opening in
1896, the two-story brick building was named "The Old Homestead.”
Pearl spared no expense in decorating the opulent parlour, importing
wallpaper from Paris and outfitting it with the finest of hardwood
furniture, expensive carpets, crystal electric chandeliers and
leather-topped gaming tables. The house even included a
telephone, an intercom system, and two bathrooms, at a time when such
things were mostly unheard of.
Four lovely girls
in making her house the most whispered about place in town. Drawing
a rich clientele from as far away as Denver, references were required of
the guests. At $250 a night, when $3 a day was considered a good wage for
a miner, only the extremely wealthy could afford to visit The Old
Homestead, and reservations were generally required.
Lavish parties were
held at The Old Homestead, complete with tropical flowers, and the finest
of food and drink. On June 4, 1897,
threw a very extravagant party sponsored by a millionaire admirer from
Poverty Gulch. Townspeople watched as cases of French champagne, Russian
caviar and Alabama Wild Turkey were carted into the parlor. Soon arrived
two orchestras from Denver. This would be the party to "end all parties.”
And, how foretelling that statement would become.
appeared she was resplendent in an $800 shell pink chiffon gown, complete
with sequins and seed pearls, imported from Paris. During the evening the
madam had a bit too much to drink and excused herself, going upstairs
to her bedroom.
took some morphine to help her sleep, a common practice at the time.
During the night, one of her girls checked
Pearl, who was lying in her bed still draped in the chiffon ball
gown. Finding her breathing heavily and unable to wake her, a doctor
was immediately summoned. But, it was too late and at the age of
Vere died on that early morning of June 5, 1897.
The coroner stated that
died of an accidental morphine overdose to induce sleep. Most newspapers
of the time reported this as a fact; however, at least one
Pearl had committed suicide.
However, most historians dispute this, as
was at her height of success and had no reason to take her life.
body was taken to Fairley Bros. and Lampman undertakers. When
relatives were notified, her sister made the long train journey from
Indiana. Having believed for years that
was a dressmaker, she was shocked and horrified to find
with dyed red hair and learned of her true vocation. Furious at
the undertaker for letting her make the long journey, she left in a
huff and refused any responsibility for her sister’s remains.
was abandoned by her sister, it was found that she was not the wealthy
madam that everyone thought. In fact, her
estate did not have enough money to even bury her properly.
clientele proposed to auction off the beautiful French gown, but
before this could be done a communication was received from Denver
containing one thousand dollars and directing that she be buried
wearing the lovely pink gown.
Pearl was interred
with much pomp and circumstance, the funeral parade being led by the
Elks Band, playing the Death March, and escorted by four mounted
policemen. Carriages followed filled with business men, girls from
"The Row,” and many miners from the camp.
Pearl’s lavender casket,
covered with red and white roses was lowered into her grave at the
foot of Mt. Pisgah Cemetery and marked with a wooden marker.
Within just a few short years,
and her grave were forgotten. It wasn’t until the 1930s when
began to promote tourism with
that people again became interested in the story of
Vere. Her grave had been lost in a weed filled corner of the cemetery,
with her name nearly eroded away from the simple wooden marker.
Soon, a campaign to replace the
wooden marker was begun and the Wilhelm
Monument Company donated a white marble heart-shaped stone which now rests
atop her grave. The original wooden slab
marker is now on display at the
The Old Homestead
continued to operate until 1917. Later it would serve as a boarding house
and a private residence.