Augusta Tabor – Wife of a Silver King

Augusta Tabor

Augusta Tabor

Augusta Pierce Tabor was the wife of a merchant and miner, Horace Tabor, who made a fortune in the silver mines of Colorado.

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, eventually leading to marriage in 1857. The pair headed west, where they homesteaded a piece of land on Deep Creek in Riley County, Kansas, 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 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.

The Tabor Mansion in Denver, courtesy Denver Public Library.

The Tabor Mansion in Denver, courtesy of Denver Public Library.

Ultimately, Horace and Baby Doe would lose their millions and die penniless, while the frugal Augusta continued to live very comfortably. 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 …

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2023.

Also See:

Historic Women List

Leadville, Colorado – Cloud City USA

The Tabor Triangle – Rags, Riches & Scandal

Women in American History