Baby Doe Tabor

Baby Doe Tabor became Horace Tabor’s wife after he divorced Augusta.

Baby Doe Mythbusting will take place at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m.

Come to a free screening of the “Ballad of Baby Doe” opera to set the stage for Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor’s life.

Following that, local enthusiast Brenda Miller will debunk the myths portrayed in the opera.

Those attending are invited to bring their own food and drinks.

Leadville’s most famous story of the Tabors is a tale of rags to riches, infidelity, a love triangle and ultimately one of lasting devotion.

H.A.W. Tabor made a fortune in mining, although he started out as a shopkeeper in Oro, Malta and finally Leadville. He got his start in mining by successfully grubstaking a number of miners. He was also the postmaster and mayor of Leadville.

Augusta Pierce was brought up in a middle-class family of nine children in Maine. She married Horace when she was 24 in 1857. They had a little boy named Maxcy, and in 1859 they decided to move to the western mountains.

After the Tabors struck it rich in the mining industry, Augusta was not happy with the change and sudden wealth. Her lifestyle did not exploit the family’s new station in life.

Born in Wisconsin, Elizabeth McCourt married Harvey Doe in 1877 and the two moved to Central City. The marriage ended the next year. Baby Doe became close friends with Jacob Sandelowsky of Leadville and moved to this city in 1880. Here she attracted the attention of Horace, who moved out of his home by July of 1880 and sought a divorce, something Augusta fought.

After a first divorce and subsequent marriage to Baby Doe proved illegal, Horace finally obtained a real divorce and the two were married.

Augusta received public support, but was hurt deeply by the divorce. She devoted much of her energies to the Unitarian Church in Denver and to the Pioneer Ladies’ Aid Society, of which she was a founder and officer.

In 1894, suffering from respiratory problems, she moved to California, but did not recover and died in 1895, on the eve of her 38th wedding anniversary. She was 62, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Denver. She died a millionairess.

That same year, H.A.W. was bankrupt.

Horace and Baby Doe had two daughters. Horace was always politically ambitious, and actually served briefly as a U.S. senator. The scandal surrounding his personal life probably kept him from achieving more in the political arena. Horace’s fortune disappeared due to the “free silver” devaluation and poor business investments. However Baby Doe remained with her husband until his death in 1899.

Although legend holds that Horace told Baby Doe to “hold on to the Matchless” with his dying breath, this is untrue.

Regardless, Baby Doe spent much of her remaining 35 years living in a shack near the Matchless Mine. Refusing to remarry, she continuously attempted to restart the mine. She was found dead in her cabin, apparently from a heart attack, in 1935.

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