During the Old West fortunes came and went. Probably there is no better illustration of the gains and losses than the story of Horace Tabor and his wife “Baby” Doe.
On March 1, 1883 Elizabeth Doe, later known to the Colorado miners as “Baby” Doe, and Horace Tabor got married. Baby Doe wore a $7,000 gown. Her wedding gift from her husband was a $75,000 diamond necklace.
Five years earlier Horace Tabor was the owner of a general store. He grubstaked a couple of prospectors to about $20 worth of merchandise in exchange for a third share of what they found…What they found was a mine called “Little Pittsburgh” that produced $20,000 worth of silver per week. Horace Tabor decided his fortune was in silver mining. Right after this Tabor bought a mine from a scam artist who had “salted” it with silver. To the chagrin of the scam artist the new mine ended up out producing his first.
Following the wedding Horace and Baby Doe moved into a mansion and had two children. Over the next few years they lived an extravagant lifestyle. But by the late 1890’s, because of federal legislation, the market for silver took a dive. Horace and Baby Doe ended up living in a hotel room.
In April of 1899 Horace Tabor died. His last words to his wife were “Don’t give up the Matchless, for it will make millions again.”
Baby Doe moved to the Matchless Mine located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, and for 35 years she lived in a shack. She wrapped herself in burlap to keep warm. Early in 1935, during a severe snowstorm, she froze to death.
What she didn’t know was that even if silver was discovered on the Matchless, it would have done her no good. Her husband had lost the Matchless with his other assets before he died.