Big Nose Kate - Doc
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Though she was born to a
would grow up to be just one of the many "soiled doves" of the
West, as well
claiming a small slice of fame as
and off girlfriend.
Born Mary Katherine Haroney in Hungary on November 7, 1850, Kate was the daughter of a
physician who had been appointed as the personal surgeon of Mexico’s
Emperor, Maximillian, in 1862. With the appointment, the family left
Hungary for Mexico, but in 1865 Maximillian’s rule crumbled. The Haroney
family fled the country and settled in Davenport, Iowa.
On March 26, 1865, when
just fourteen years old, her mother died and just two months later, her
father passed away too.
the rest of the children were placed in foster homes.
Kate was in the care of a man by the name of Otto Smith, but the
young woman cut her stay with Smith short, stowing away on a steam
ship headed for
An older Big Nose
Kate around 1890.
Though the ship’s captain, a man named Fisher, found her, he did not
put her off the ship, but rather, allowed her to stay on to
St. Louis. There, she assumed Fisher’s name and enrolled in a convent school.
married a dentist by the name of Silas Melvin and the couple had a
child. However, both husband and child passed away in the same year.
was said to have been in Wichita,
and later she was working in a sporting house for Nellie Bessie
the wife of James
Kate always stated that she did not meet
until she was in
Wyatt Earp were in Wichita at the same time, and it has been
speculated that she had a relationship with
at that time.
In 1875 she was
going by the name of
Elder and was listed as being in
working as a dance hall girl. A couple of years later she moved
Doc Holliday at John Shanssey’s
Holliday was dealing cards. By this time,
had earned the nickname "Big
Nose” Kate. While the dance hall girl and prostitute was
attractive, she did have a prominent nose.
was tough, stubborn, and with a temper that matched
Doc’s. She said she worked the business because she liked it, belonging to no
man, nor to any house!
would spend the next several years with
Their relationship was often rocky, with
still plying her trade as a prostitute from time to time.
While still in
Fort Griffin in 1877,
was dealing cards to a local bully by the name of Ed Bailey, who was
accustomed to having his own way without question. Bailey was
reputation and in an attempt to irritate him; he kept picking up the
discards and looking at them. Looking at the discards was
strictly prohibited by the rules of
a violation that could force the player to forfeit the pot.
and Big Nose
Kate had an on and off again relationship
for years, photo 1881.
image available for photographic prints
warned Bailey twice, the bully ignored him and picked up the discards
again. This time,
raked in the pot without showing his hand, nor saying a word. Bailey
immediately brought out his pistol from under the table, but before the
man could pull the trigger,
lethal knife slashed the man across the stomach. With blood spilled
everywhere, Bailey lay sprawled across the table.
Knowing that his actions
were in self-defense,
not run. However, he was still arrested and incarcerated in a local
hotel room, there being no jail in the town. Bully or no, a
vigilante group formed to seek revenge on
Holliday. Knowing that the mob would quickly overtake the local lawmen, "Big Nose”
devised a plan to free
from his confines. Setting a fire to an old shed, it began to burn
rapidly, threatening to engulf the entire town. As everyone else was
involved in fighting the fire, she confronted the officer guarding
with a pistol in each hand, disarmed the guard and the two escaped.
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