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Happy Birthday, Baby Doe Tabor … or is it??

Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen

When I began my research on Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt Doe Tabor, aka Baby Doe Tabor, I soon discovered that searching for her birthdate might be problematic. The first date I saw tossed around was October 7, 1854. It was hard to pin down, and often overlooked or unmentioned in accounts of her family and childhood. It turns out that was the date of Elizabeth’s, or Lizzie’s as she was known to her family, christening. The search was on for something more concrete for her birthdate. I was happy and relieved when I found Elizabeth Tabor’s death certificate in the archives. There it was, her birthdate filled in by her younger brother, Willard McCourt. Of course, he would know his sister’s birthday. Or would he? It was listed as May 15, 1854.

1900 Denver Census

When dates and data do not agree, it is called negative evidence. I was dismayed to discover Elizabeth was listed as born in September on the 1900 census, which contains a column for birth month. Was this a fluke? The September reference appeared again in Judith Nolte Temple’s biography, Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin, page 157. Elizabeth wrote a diary entry that said the following: “Sept. 25, 1914 – My birthday I am all alone in the world now alone my birthday where is my poor unfortunate Silver and how is my Lily and her babies I am alone here in Leadville” This appears to be her perceived birthdate at the time. Her headstone on her grave mentions only the year, 1854.

Her age is a whole conundrum on its own. As a coy Victorian lady, she often altered her age in her favor on public records. However, the 1854 date appears in enough places to make it the accepted year of her birth. Her death date was about February 20, 1935. She collapsed and died in her cabin by the headframe of the Matchless Mine. Her frozen body was found some time later, thus an inconclusive death date as well. As a biographer of Elizabeth Tabor, I feel comfortable celebrating the birth of this interesting, courageous and colorful Colorado pioneer woman on September 25. Happy Birthday, Lizzie. Here’s to you on your birthday!

Joyce at Matchless Mine 6 13

You can learn more about the fabulous lives of the Silver King and Silver Queen of Leadville in my award-winning book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, from Filter Press. Go to: http://www.FilterPressBooks.com, http://www.Amazon.com, http://www.LohseWorks.com, or ask for it from your favorite local book vendor.

Joyce B. Lohse

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Western history

 

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Closure and Reflection

Baby Doe Funeral Scene

Finalizing a book manuscript to hand over to the publisher is a strange and wonderful time. I could continue editing indefinitely, but the time has come to finalize it. The danger with over-editing is that the life and character might be sucked out of the text, rendering it ordinary. Thus, I bid farewell to Baby Doe Tabor while she is still lively and colorful so her story can move on to the next step. I have enjoyed the ride, and gained a much broader perspective of her character and her times. The biggest lesson I learned from this one is to not be judgmental. As wisdom sets in, I find that message repeated over and over again. There was certainly more going on with Lizzie Tabor than meets the eye. With that thought in mind, I have closure with gratitude to Baby Doe for her story of fortitude and persistence.

Right now, I am also thinking about a friend of mine. Pat Werner, a member of Women Writing the West, was a mighty fine writer and researcher. She passed away much too soon. Pat was cool. We were sisters-in-arms in the fight against cancer, but we much preferred sharing historical research. She called me from the hospital bubbling with finishing touches on her book. A week later, she was gone. The memory of sharing writing adventures and friendship with her still inspires me in my quest for excellence in writing. Her final book was just published by our mutual publisher, Filter Press. If she was still with us, we would all celebrate the victories and defeats, and the fabulous stories of Colorado history we were able to share and enjoy.

Watch for my book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, which should reach publication sometime this year. In the meantime, Pat Werner’s book, The Walls Talk: Historic House Museums of Colorado, is a fabulous piece of work to help direct those seeking history destinations in Colorado this summer, or anytime. For more information, go to: http://www.filterpressbooks.com .

Joyce B. Lohse, 6/16/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2010 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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