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Next stop: Leadville

Baby Doe Cover

As a historic biographer, my focus is writing about pioneer characters, which often takes me to places with a colorful past. When I researched and wrote my award-winning biography, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, my search for truth and information about The Tabors and their Matchless Mine took me to the nooks and crannies of Leadville’s mining district. Interestingly, the fun did not end once the book was published by Filter Press in 2011.

This June, I was invited by Bob Hartzell, former director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, to present the story of Elizabeth Tabor during a special event. After several emails and phone calls, plans were in place. Museum members were invited to a banquet to honor Mrs. Tabor followed by my PowerPoint presentation about the Tabors’ life in the boom town and my research findings. Guests were invited to wear period clothing, which motivated participants, including myself, to show off Victorian finery. A signed copy of my book was included at each place setting.

After the banquet, the group of twenty people drove cars to the shack at the Matchless Mine where Mrs. Tabor lived her final years. We shared more stories in the dimly lit cabin. Although we witnessed no supernatural occurrences, we felt strongly that Mrs. Tabor’s spirit was present.

The next morning, we met again at the Matchless Mine for a tour of the site. Our guide was retired geologist Fred Mark, a remarkable researcher who combined a passion for history with his professional knowledge and expertise in geology and mining. After hiking over some rough terrain to study the property, we returned to the restored headframe where I signed more books.

My weekend in Leadville, sharing stories with knowledgeable history buffs, was easily one of my most fun and fascinating experiences as a writer. Leadville is still working its magic, and I look forward to more adventures there.

For those who visit Leadville, 100 miles west of Denver, there are many historic attractions. Stop by the visitors’ center on Harrison Avenue to pick up brochures and maps, for current access, hours, and road conditions. They can provide directions for a walking tour in town as well.

HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS IN LEADVILLE:

  1. National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum – 120 W. 9th St., open year round
  2. Matchless Silver Mine and Baby Doe Tabor’s Cabin – 1 ¾ miles east on 7th St., open May-September
  3. Mineral Belt and Road of the Silver Kings – in California Gulch, site of Oro City’s ghost town and Tabor’s General Store, follow Monroe Street from Leadville
  4. Tabor Home Museum, home of Horace Tabor and his first wife, Augusta – 116 E. 5th St.
  5. Annunciation Church, where Elizabeth Tabor worshipped, at Poplar and East 7th St.
  6. Tabor Opera House, 308 Harrison Ave., open May-Oct, closed Sundays.
  7. Delaware Hotel – 700 Harrison Ave., built in 1886, offers various walking tours.
  8. Silver Dollar Saloon – 315 Harrison Ave. – built in 1879.
  9. Baby Doe Room in the Lake County Public Library, for quiet reading and
    research among period antiques.
  10. Heritage Museum – 102 E. 9th St., – open May-Oct.
  11. Healy House & Dexter Cabin – 912 Harrison Ave., open May-Oct daily.
  12. Boom Days Festival – historic celebrations and parade – 1st weekend in August

Joyce B. Lohse is administrator for Women Writing the West. When she is not writing historical biographies, she enjoys lurking around in cemeteries and archives looking for stories.

Joyce B. Lohse – Centennial, Colorado
http://www.LohseWorks.com

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Baby Doe is on a Roll!

This week, Women Writing the West announced winners and finalists of the 2012 WILLA Literary awards. Lo and behold, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen is a finalist in the Scholarly Nonfiction category, its second award this year after winning Best Biography from CIPA. What an honor! WILLA awards will be presented October 19-21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Annual WWW Conference. Baby Doe, who loved jewels, now has gold and silver emblems for her book cover!

Best wishes, Joyce
http://www.LohseWorks.com

Silver WILLA

Women Writing the West
2012 WILLA Winners and Finalists:

CONTEMPORARY FICTION
Winner: *Wrecker: A Novel* by Summer Wood
Finalist: * Fracture* by Susan Cummins Miller
Finalist: *Seance in Sepia* by Michelle Black

CREATIVE NONFICTION
Winner: *Rightful Place* by Amy Hale Auker
Finalist: * Light on the Devils: Coming of Age on the Klamath* by
Louise Wagenknecht
Finalist: * Bull Canyon: A Boat Builder, A Writer, and Other
Wildlife*by Lin Pardey

SCHOLARLY NONFICTION
Winner: *Recollecting: Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian
Northwest and Borderlands*, edited by Sarah Carter and Patricia McCormack
Finalist: *Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen* by Joyce B. Lohse

HISTORICAL FICTION
Winner: *The Bride’s House* by Sandra Dallas
Finalist: *Mercury’s Rise* by Ann Parker
Finalist: *A Race to Splendor* by Ciji Ware

POETRY
Winner: *Married Into It* by Patricia Frolander
Finalist: *The Singing Bowl* by Joan Logghe
Finalist: *Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet* by Linda M. Hasselstrom and
Twyla M. Hansen

ORIGINAL SOFTCOVER* *FICTION
* *Winner: *The American Cafe *by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe
Finalist: *Captive Trail* by Susan Page Davis
Finalist: *Unbridled* by Tammy Hinton

CHILDREN’S/YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION
Winner: *The Year We Were Famous* by Carole Estby Dagg
Finalist: *Forgiven* by Janet Fox
Finalist: *A Book for Black-Eyed Susan* by Judy Young

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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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Real Boom Town Treasures

mine ruins

mine ruins

Publication date of my latest book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, is fast approaching. As we struggle through final edits in an attempt to provide the most interesting and correct factual information possible, I am enjoying revisiting Colorado’s mining history as I have throughout the process. Just as I learned about railroads and their impact on our country’s western expansion during my work on General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer, I have experienced a similar learning curve about mining for Baby Doe Tabor’s story.

Research has taken me to Leadville, Colorado several times. I enjoy immersing myself in its rich history and breathtaking  landscape (literally, at an altitude of 10,200 feet,) while searching for my own nuggets of information and stories to preserve and share in biographies. My most recent trip took me to California Gulch, a stretch about three miles from Leadville, which was the site of the area’s earliest frantic mining activity.

Oro Ruin

Oro City Ruin

Nothing much is left of Oro City in California Gulch, where Horace Tabor first arrived in 1860. The Mineral Belt Trail through the mining camp reveals only a handful of partial building remains and mine ruins as a reminder of the frantic, fleeting days when Oro was a boom town. Nearby in Leadville, rich history has been preserved and restored at every turn, to be enjoyed, shared and absorbed by those who visit. After all, the stories of the lives of their pioneers are the real boom town treasures which have endured to the present.

Save the date:
Boom Days in Leadville, August 5-7, 2011

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/25/11
LohseWorks.com

 

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 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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Historic Shadows and Footsteps

Busy times and family fun have arrived with the onset of summer. As I push hard to finalize my latest biography, I cannot resist the lure of a mountain road on a sunny day in the name of history research.

Silver Kings

Once again, my intrepid research pal Christie accompanied me on a field trip to the mining town of Leadville. With Christie driving her 4×4, we explored the routes of the Silver Kings through the Oro City mining district and California Gulch. Ruins cast shadows where prospectors once clamored through rocks in the 1800s in search of riches in the form of gold, then silver. Five taverns once lined up one next to the other along the narrow clearing. In an atmosphere of industry, noise, pollution, and debauchery, Horace and Augusta Tabor arrived to open a general store in 1860. They provided needed supplies for all who came in search of their fortunes. When prospectors could not pay, Horace was willing to “grubstake” them. They agreed to share their fortunes with him when they struck it rich.

Oro Ruin

Thus began the fabulous tale of Horace Tabor and the Matchless Mine which made him a Silver King. This was only the beginning of the story. After Horace Tabor became a silver king, he met a beautiful young divorced woman named Elizabeth Doe, fondly known as “Baby”. With his marriage to Augusta strained and crumbling, he sought a divorce. He wished to build a new life with Baby Doe, a woman who appreciated the finer things in life, including him.

Eventually, Horace and Baby Doe married and moved to a large home in Denver. However, it was in Leadville where the magic began when they met, and Tabor made millions from his Matchless Mine. Leadville has preserved the Tabor legacy as part of its local history. As you walk the streets of Leadville, you can absorb its culture as you walk in the shadows and footsteps of silver kings and their queens.

My next book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, is due for publication by Filter Press later this year. It is an amazing story of a couple who found love and riches, then lost a fortune during an economic downturn. Baby Doe’s reaction to the situation was unexpected, unusual, and legendary. Progress reports will be forthcoming as the book nears publication.

Joyce B. Lohse, 6/5/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2010 in Western history

 

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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
http://www.lohseworks.com

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

 

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History In My Hands

Tabor Opera House JPG

History researchers in Denver beware and be aware. As of Oct. 31, the Colorado Historical Society is closing its library for the next two years while they move and reconstruct their museum. Yes, I said two YEARS!! Realization of this closure has thrown my research schedule for my next biography into panic mode. The subject for the next book is Elizabeth Tabor, known around Colorado as “Baby Doe”, the Silver Queen of Leadville.

Although my writing and research schedule has become somewhat tospy-turvy and compressed, I hit paydirt this week when I squeezed in a visit to CHS before the impending closure. The large volume of the Tabor holdings are a two edged sword. The good news is that there is much information to read, view and assimilate. The bad news is that it takes time and organization to sort through the inconsequential, sift down to the nitty-gritty, and identify the really good stuff.

Frustrations slip away when treasures fall into the researchers hands. Fortunately, those moments came and I was transported to a time long ago when our pioneer state was newly formed. A silver king named H.A.W. Tabor put aside his ego and business concerns to scribble words of love to “Lizzie”, the bold script fading but the intent still clear on thin scraps of paper. A voyeur into the past, I was able to interpret these items directly from the source. History was in my hands.

I will miss CHS while they regroup. However, when one door closes, two more usually open. The adventure is just beginning. I am almost grateful that I was forced to scramble into disjointed action. Almost.

Joyce Lohse, 10/23/09

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2009 in Western history

 

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