Author: John Burke
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
In her pulchritudinous prime Baby Doe was called the Silver Queen of Colorado by journalists and "that shameless hussy" by the proper wives of the men who eyed her. Flirtatious, adventurous, ambitious, Elizabeth McCourt Doe gave everyone a lot to talk about when she met Horace Tabor, the Silver King of Leadville, in 1880. Three years later they were free to legalize their passion. Although thirty years separated them, they were well matched in romantic recklessness. If The Legend of Baby Doe is the lowdown on the high jinks of two public lives, it is also the story of a love that survived spectacularly good times and bad. Before bad times came, Baby and Horace went on a spending spree. They built an opulent opera house in Denver and bought an Italian-ate villa. Baby Doe went out bejeweled and ermined, and sat at home alone, snubbed by the social dragons. John Burke has written about the giddy rise of a bonanza king who dreamed of entering the White House with Baby Doe on his arm and about the disastrous fall they took together. Wiped out by unwise investments and the Panic of 1893, Tabor soon died, leaving Baby Doe and their two daughters penniless. Reportedly, his deathbed order was to "hang on to the Matchless," a played-out mine filled with water. She managed to do that for almost four decades, struggling heroically against loneliness, poverty, and heartbreak, and becoming one of the great legends of the American West.