Monthly Archives: March 2010

Forever Young

1900 Census

As Women’s History Month winds down, census records are on my mind. They are a blessing and a curse to the biographer. Once again, I am researching a Victorian Colorado woman who was fashionably demure about revealing her age and birthdate. Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor was born in 1854. I am not sure of the exact date, because I have encountered negative evidence in that regard. She attained the age of six by the 1860 census. If my math is correct,  she would have been 46 years old in 1900. The newly widowed Baby Doe figured it out differently. In 1900, her birthdate is shown as 1861 and her age as 38, thus not breaking the dreaded 40 barrier.

Baby Doe was not unusual. Literally every woman I have researched during the Victorian Age lied about her age and birth year on census records. The age is never higher. Male pioneers rarely deviate from their birthdate. What does all this mean? Perhaps women back then felt a need to work harder to maintain a youthful demeanor and appearance for a variety of reasons. It could strictly be a case of feminine vanity. As a result, I work harder to prove my facts, and I usually discover more insights along the way. So it goes.

This subject was on my mind recently as I filled in my 2010 census form. Thinking ahead, would my children’s children some day find some interesting data as a result of my entry? In spite of their flaws, or possibly because of them, census records reveal interesting facts and perceptions about those who precede us.

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/28/10

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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Denver history, Family history


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Women in Western History

MB face

Mrs. J.J. Brown from Denver Post, 10-28-1932.

This week in Colorado, Women’s History Month will be celebrated at an event called “Meet the Women in Denver’s History”. On Wednesday, March 24, 5-7 p.m., at Denver’s Molly Brown House Museum, docents will dress as historic characters while visitors enjoy an open house. I have the privilege of meeting and greeting patrons in the carriage house gift shop, and to sign copies of my biographies. Characters from my books who will be portrayed are Margaret Tobin Brown, Justina Ford, and Emily Griffith, and Augusta Tabor from an upcoming project. Debra Faulkner will also be signing her books about Emily Griffith and Mary Elitch Long. Hope to see Denver history buffs there!

To learn more about Women’s History Month, visit the National Women’s History Project at The focus of their project is writing women back into history. Also, visit the Women Writing the West blog for more observations about Women’s History Month. .

As stated on my web site, my mission is to preserve and share the stories of pioneers from Western history through books, articles and presentations. My objectives and endeavors are not gender specific. Many of my female characters enjoy strong and productive relationships with their significant others without which they would not be able to achieve the magnitude of their goals and aspirations. We often learn about women through the work of their partners, thus allowing them the opportunity to step forward for their own well deserved recognition. Teamwork often creates an inspiring dynamic and role for others to follow. Those who forge ahead as individuals are no less inspiring, and often exhibit astounding courage, strength and intelligence. We have so much to learn by letting all of their voices be heard.

Joyce Lohse – 3/22/10


Posted by on March 22, 2010 in Denver history, Western history


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Rockslides and Rummage Sales


Glenwood Canyon

Early spring brings new challenges to the Rocky Mountains. Avalanche danger is high, as is danger of rockslides. Fortunately, we did not have plans to visit the West Slope this past week when a giant boulder crashed onto the highway in Glenwood Canyon, closing the interstate highway in both directions. Nobody was hurt, and a long detour through Steamboat Springs diverted traffic for most of the week. In the meantime, Coloradans grow restless for the arrival of spring in the mountains.

Last weekend, the Colorado History Museum was the scene of an amazing indoor frenzy. As they undertake the mammoth task of moving to new facilities, the museum folks decided to offer a rummage sale open to the public. A few hundred people lined up for the opportunity of a lifetime, to enter the museum and take home a piece of history for a small price.

Frustration escalated as those in line watched the reappearance of the first wave allowed inside as they carried out poster size photos of historic Western scenes. A man walking past was heard to say, “Is there always a line like this at the history museum?” Cutout images of pioneers in Victorian clothing appeared as their new owners dealt with long walks to their cars carrying unwieldy objects. Fortunately for them, it was not a windy day.

Inside the museum doors, the scene was hot and noisy, as anxious history buffs nudged and budged their way toward quickly disappearing piles of historic momentos. Some people grabbed stacks of photos to buy without studying them, speculating they contained treasures. An hour into the chaos, the merchandise was gone. People in Colorado love their history, and they especially love it at a bargain price.

Later this year, my next title in the “Now You Know Bio” series will transport the reader to the wild days of the Leadville mining boom and the saga of the Matchless Mine. “Now You Know Bios”, which publishes Colorado and Western history at a great value, contains expertly researched and written text with relevant photographic images and documents contemporary to the subject. To learn more, go to or

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/14/10

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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Denver history, Western history


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In Like A Lion

Actually, the weather has taken a mild turn with the arrival of March. A road trip to the West Slope over the weekend was still mighty cold with a dusting of snow on the mountains, although a snowstorm threatened to block our way home over the Great Divide. Since then, a welcome whiff of spring has been riding in on the mountain breezes. Looks like winter might be winding down after all.

Book activities are roaring in like a lion. The March issue of True West magazine features my article, “General Palmer’s Baby Railroad”, about the arrival of the Denver & Rio Grande to the Rocky Mountain West. It is quite a thrill to have my piece featured in this nationally distributed publication. The magazine is great, and I’m honored that my work is part of the train issue.

Coming soon in Denver … on Wednesday, March 24, 5-7 p.m., I will have the pleasure of signing books at the Molly Brown House Museum, along with my colleague and friend, Debra Faulkner. The event is called “Meet the Women in Denver’s History”. The cost is $10, and it will be a great opportunity to visit the historic Molly Brown House Museum. Come by the gift shop and say Howdy!

In the meantime, work continues at a lively pace for Women Writing the West, and for my next book for “Now You Know Bios” for Filter Press. Library and internet searches are revealing many interesting pieces of history. A writer’s work is never done … and neither is the fun!

Joyce B. Lohse – 3/4/10


Posted by on March 4, 2010 in Denver history, Western history


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