According to Kate - Big Nose Kate bookAccording To Kate, Chris Enss, Two Dot, $24.95, Cloth. Non-fiction, Photos, Notes, Bibliography, IndexThis book chronicles for the first time the life story of Mary Katherine Horony, known as Big Nose Kate.  Previously small parts of her life have been entwined with stories regarding her association with the Earps and Doc Holliday.  If not for her relationship with Doc, it is likely that nobody would have heard of her, or even cared.  Kate was a prostitute, a soiled dove, a lady of easy virtue who traveled throughout the rough Kansas cow-towns and mining camps in Arizona.

Her early life seems to have been stable.  Her father was a doctor.  She claimed to have had one early marriage and a child who died.  However, she soon took up life on the wild side and stuck with it until old age caught up to her.

According to Kate, which is the title of this book, she hated the Earps and the nickname Wyatt bestowed upon her, “Big Nose Kate.”  This name had little to do with the size of her nose, but because she stuck her nose into other people’s business.  Kate and Wyatt contended for the attention and loyalty of Doc Holiday; Wyatt usually won.

After Doc Holliday’s death of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Kate married George Cummings, a mining man/blacksmith.  In time she left this abusive drunk, and became a housekeeper at a tiny hotel in Cochise, Arizona.  From here she became a housekeeper for Jack Howard, a mining man living in Dos Cabezas, Arizona.  Thirty years later when Jack Howard died, Kate, nearly destitute was admitted to the Pioneer’s Home in Prescott, Arizona.  She spent the last ten years of her life (to age 90) complaining about the food and accommodations white attempting to sell her memoirs to writers who might use the material for a book.  There were no takers willing to give her money for her stories.  Kate died at the Pioneer’s Home and is buried there.

This book is an accumulation of Kate’s lifetime adventures.  Much of Kate’s story here is gleaned from a combination of her memoirs, some accurate and some not, plus the author Chris Enss’ having gathered historical facts from legal documents, census records, and newspaper articles.

Readers of this book should understand that Kate’s personal letters and memoirs have been picked over tong ago by Earpiana researchers.  Nothing here is really new, but it is now well organized.  There are only three photos of Kate in the book that are authentic.  We have seen them long ago.  A fourth shows an attractive teenage girl on the book cover, but it is hard to imagine this is really Kate.  Mary Katherine Horony was not a pretty woman.  She told some windies in her memoirs probably to help sell her story, but we can excuse an eighty-year-old lady for this.  She had no idea that after her death legions of professional researchers would sift carefully through every facet of the lives and times of the Earps and their associates, including “Big Nose Kate.”

Author Chris Enss has done a creditable job accumulating information, both factual and fictional concerning a famous Old West figure who survived hard times; living to old age still feisty and determined to the end According To Kate is a fascinating read, worthy of inclusion in your Old West library.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous published books about the Old West, including 9 Days At Dragoon Springs, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York 10988. www.silklabelbooks.com.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Filed under: Old West Book Reviews

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