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Augusta Pierce Tabor (1833-1895) - Augusta Pierce was one of seven daughters and three sons born to William B. Pierce and Lucy Eaton. She grew up in a comfortable middle-class home in Augusta, Maine. She began a courtship with Horace Tabor that would eventually lead to marriage in 1857. The pair headed west where they homesteaded a piece of land on Deep Creek in Riley County, Kansas which is called "Tabor Valley" to this day. Though Augusta was appalled by the rattlesnakes and Indians, the pair stayed for two years until Horace began to hear stories of gold discoveries in the western part of the Kansas Territory (now Colorado.) 

 

Their arrival in the gold camp at California Gulch made a curiosity of Augusta, the first woman known to venture into those parts. She endeared herself to the miners by becoming the camp's cook, laundress, postmistress, and banker, using the gold scales she and Horace had brought with them to weigh the "dust."

 

Before long they moved on to Leadville, Colorado where Horace, after grubstaking a couple of miners, hit the jackpot. But it was not long after that he began a sordid affair with Elizabeth "Baby Doe" McCourt. In a scandal that rocked polite Denver society, he divorced Augusta and married Baby Doe.

 

In the end, Horace and Baby Doe would lose their millions and die penniless, while the frugal Augusta continued to live very comfortable. She eventually moved to Pasadena, California where she died on February 1, 1895, a wealthy, respected and lonely woman, leaving her son Maxcy over $1.5 million dollars. More ...

 

 

Augusta Tabor, 1870

Augusta Tabor, 1870

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Baby Doe Tabor

Baby Doe Tabor was renowned for her beauty.

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Elizabeth McCourt "Baby Doe" Tabor (1854-1935) - Born into a prosperous family in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1854, Elizabeth McCourt grew up to be a beautiful young woman. She married a man named Harvey Doe in 1877 and the two soon boarded a train to Central City, Colorado, where Harvey intended to make his fortune. However, Harvey was a heavy drinker, a poor provider, and drifted from one job to another. Baby Doe soon divorced him and moved to Leadville, Colorado where she met the millionaire "Silver King," Horace Tabor. Almost immediately, the pair were infatuated with each other. Tabor ended up leaving his wife, Augusta, and the pair married causing a major scandal.

 

Living flamboyantly, they spent their millions lavishly, but try as she might, Baby Doe would never be accepted in Denver society. They had two children, Lillie and Silver Dollar, who would benefit in their early years from Horace's vast wealth.

 

However, in 1893, the fairytale ended when the country moved to the gold standard. Silver, Horace's main holding, along with parcels of highly mortgaged property came crashing down, along with the Tabors' fortune and lifestyle. They were forced to sell their Capitol Hill mansion, rented a cottage, and at the age of 65, Horace went to work shoveling slag from area mines at $3.00/day until he was finally appointed postmaster of Denver just a year before his death. 

 

 

 

Many people who disliked  Baby Doe predicted that she would divorce Tabor if he ever lost his fortune. However, Baby Doe was loyal and devoted to her husband until the end. In April, 1899 Horace died. Baby Doe, just 38 years old, would never again live a lavish lifestyle. She ended up returning to Leadville, taking up residence in the one-room, 12 by 16-foot structure that originally served as a tool shed at the Matchless Mine, that had originally made the Tabor fortune. She died there, penniless, and was found on March 7, 1935. She was 81 years-old. More ...

 

Mary Elizabeth "Libby" Thompson (1855-1953) - One of the most popular soiled doves in Dodge City, Kansas, and other frontier cattle towns during the 1870s. She later became famous as Squirrel Tooth Alice, madam of a brothel in Sweetwater, Texas. More ...

 

Sojourner Truth (1797?-1883) A former slave, she became a leading proponent of human rights and a spokesperson for abolition and women's rights.

 

Alice Ivers Tubbs; aka: Poker Alice (1851-1930) - Perhaps the best known female poker player in all of the Wild Old West. More ...

 

Harriet Tubman (1820?-1913) As a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, this fugitive slave helped thousands of blacks escape north prior to the Civil War, during which, she served as a Union nurse and military spy. More ...

 

Elizabeth Van LewElizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900)  - A Union spy during the Civil War, Van Lew was born on October 25, 1818, the oldest daughter of John Van Lew, a prominent Richmond, Virginia businessman, and Elizabeth Baker Van Lew. Her father ran a hardware business and owned several slaves. She was educated at a Quaker school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was first exposed to abolitionism. After she finished school, she returned home to Virginia and a short time later, her father died. Though he had expressly forbidden it prior to his death, she and her mother freed the family's nine slaves, one of whom was Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who would later work with Van Lew as a spy. Van Lew and her mother also bought and freed some of their former slaves' relatives.

 

When the Civil War broke out, she began working on behalf of the Union. At first she brought food, clothing, and other necessities to the Union soldiers held at Libby Prison in Richmond. She then began to help prisoners to escape, passing them information about safe houses and getting a Union sympathizer appointed to the prison. In exchange, prisoners gave her  information on Confederate troop movements, which she passed on to Union commanders.

 

Running and operating a spy ring of 12 people, Van Lew was even able to have Mary Elizabeth Bowser hired by Varina Davis, which allowed Bowser to spy in the White House of the Confederacy. Her work was highly valued by the United States, so much so that George H. Sharpe, intelligence officer for the Army of the Potomac, credited her with "the greater portion of our intelligence in 1864-65." On Ulysses S. Grant's first visit to Richmond after the war, he had tea with Van Lew, and later appointed her postmaster of Richmond.

When Richmond fell to the United States, Van Lew was the first person to raise the US flag in the city. She kept an "Occasional Journal" of her activities, but buried it for a time, for fear of recrimination.

After Reconstruction, she became increasingly ostracized in Richmond and having spent her family's fortune on intelligence, was destitute. Finally, a group of wealthy and influential Bostonians collected money for the woman who helped so many Union soldiers during the war.

She died on September 25, 1900, and was buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Her grave was unmarked until the relatives of Union Colonel Paul J. Revere, whom she had aided during the war, donated a tombstone. Even into the 20th century, she was regarded by many Southerners as a traitor.

 

Elizabeth Van Lew (October 25, 1818-September 25, 1900) was a well-born Richmond, Virginia resident who built and operated an extensive spy ring for the United States during the American Civil War.
 

 

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