The Silver Baron's Wife traces the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of Colorado's Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). This fascinating heroine worked in the silver mines and had two scandalous marriages, one to a philandering opium addict and one to a Senator and silver baron worth $24 million in the late 19th century. A divorcée shunned by Denver society, Lizzie raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor's Opera House, and after her second husband's death, moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine in Leadville. She lived the last 35 years of her life there, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social expectations by working where 19thcentury women didn't work, becoming the key figure in one of the West's most scandalous love triangles, and, after a devastating stock market crash destroyed Tabor's vast fortune, living in eccentric isolation at the Matchless Mine. An earlier version of this novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction.
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I love rags to riches stories, especially if they are true. The Silver Baron's wife is definitely one that appeals to me. Lizzie is a young woman forced to make a living in a rough male mining environment. Scandals, a failing marriage to a terrible opium addicted husband, and her desire to work in the mines with the men, made this a fascinating read. When things could not get any worse, her life takes a turn and she marries a man of great wealth. Life is not always perfect however, and this time, Lizzie goes from riches to rags. An utterly fascinating story about a spunky, gutsy, and proud woman whom fortune touched and then abandoned.
The Silver Barons Wife (1854-1935) Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt was born 1854 in Oshkosh Wisconsin. In 1877 she married Harvey Doe. Her father-in-law provided the couple with a quarter share in a Colorado mine called Fourth Of July. Her husband began a mining career, for which he was ill suited. Lizzie was determined to make this mine a success and because of her beauty, the minors dubbed her "Baby Doe". A series of distresses (medical, financial, personal) set the stage for a disintegrating marriage. Baby Doe sued her husband for divorce and later fell in love with millionaire, Horace Tabor. Tabor was married at the time and there are intricacies and mystery surrounding the divorce of Horace and Augusta Tabor. "After his divorce, Baby Doe and Horace married. The couple was known as “The Silver King and Queen.” They lived an elaborate life together in a Capitol Hill mansion in Denver. They had two daughters, Elizabeth “Lilly” and Rose Mary “Silver Dollar.” As you might guess, many of Denver’s elite disapproved of divorce and the Tabors. 1880– Baby Doe & Harvey Doe divorce Summer 1882 - illegal divorce between Horace and Augusta filed in Durango September, 1882 - illegal marriage of Horace & Baby Doe in St. Louis January, 1883 - Augusta agrees to second divorce filed by Horace March, 1883 - Horace & Baby Doe marriage in Washington, D. C." (historycolorado.org) 1893 brought the great silver crash and riches to rags for the Tabors. The remainder of their lives (a crash of the American dream) is characterized by acceptance, endurance and basically poverty. The spirit, determination and sequence of colorful characters and events kept me engaged in the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed my sojourn into this period of American history. 4.5*