On March 7, 1935, Baby Doe Tabor was found dead of a heart attack in her small shack at the famous Matchless Mine, just outside Leadville, Colorado. She had, for whatever reason, adopted the storage shack at the Matchless Mine as her living quarters since her husband’s death in 1899, 35 years earlier. Contrary to popular belief, she did not “hold on to the Matchless as it will pay millions again,” as some have incorrectly reported were Horace Tabor’s deathbed words. The Matchless Mine had long since been lost to foreclosure and had failed to produce even with several new attempts on the part of the new owners. Baby Doe was living in the tiny cabin only due to the generosity of the current owners of the worthless mine.
Elizabeth Bonduel McCourt “Baby Doe” Tabor, once a millionaire, had died in virtual poverty. After her death, 17 iron trunks that had been placed in storage in Denver were opened, as well as several gunny sacks and 4 trunks that had been left at the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Leadville. All that was left from the Tabor fortune were several bolts of unique, untouched and quite exquisite cloth, several pieces of china, a tea service and some jewelry, including a diamond and sapphire ring. The famous watch fob and chain given to her husband, Horace Tabor, at the opening of the $700,000 Tabor Opera House in Denver was also found, along with several memorabilia pieces.
This incredible story has captured the imagination of the world for decades.
Given the scandal of the divorce and the differences in their ages, the wives of Denver’s richest men refused to accept her as one of their own. However, despite the age difference and the social shuns, nothing could wilt their blossoming marriage and they shared a loving home life for the next ten years.
On the lawn outside the mansion, a hundred peacocks strutted and the landscape was adorned with more controversial decorations, which included some nude statues that further offended Baby’s highly proper female neighbors. In response, the highly spirited Baby Doe had her dressmaker come in and make dresses for the statues. The two lived extravagantly, spending as much $10,000 a week on lavish parties, traveling, and other luxuries.
At their height, the Tabors were one of the five richest families in the country. During this time they built the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver, had two daughters, nicknaming them Lillie and Silver, and a stillborn son.
Baby Doe Tabor’s cabin at Matchless Mine
“Baby Doe” Tabor and her wedding dress. Drama of the silver mining era in Colorado is personified in H.A.W. Tabor and “Baby Doe.” They were married in Washington while he was “Silver Midas of the Rockies.” Tragic reversals transformed their station from wealth to poverty. E. 14th and Sherman Street. Baby’s wedding dress cost $7,000 and Horace gave her a $75,000 diamond necklace as a wedding gift. Horace’s congressional friends, including the President, attended the wedding, but their wives refused to attend the “disgraceful” event. The scandal of the alleged divorce and marriage raged on, and was front page news across the country. It was an embarrassment to Washington, as well as other prominent figures in high social circles.