Dora DuFran

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Madam Dora DuFran or Dora Bolshaw (née Amy Helen Dorothy Bolshaw) (November 16, 1868 - August 5, 1934)[1] was one of the leading and most successful madams in the Old West days of Deadwood, South Dakota.

Biography[edit]

Dora was born in Liverpool, England and emigrated to the United States with her parents Joseph John (November 14, 1842 - March 26, 1911) and Isabella Neal (Cummings) Bolshaw (November 12, 1844 - April 12, 1911) sometime around 1869. The family settled first at Bloomfield, New Jersey, then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1876 or 1877. An extremely good looking woman in her youth, Dora became involved in prostitution around the age of 13 or 14. She then became a dance hall girl, calling herself Amy Helen Bolshaw. By the time the gold rush hit Deadwood, South Dakota when she was 15, Dora promoted herself to Madam and began operating a brothel.[citation needed]

Dora coined the term "cathouse".[2]

Career[edit]

Although Dora preferred having pretty girls work in her brothel, the selection in that part of the west was extremely limited. She usually did, however, demand that her girls practice good hygiene and dress well[citation needed]. She picked up several girls who arrived in Deadwood via the wagon train led by Charlie Utter. From time to time Old West personality Martha Jane Burke (Calamity Jane, 1852–1903) was in her employ. Dora's main competition in Deadwood was Madam Mollie Johnson. Dora coined the term "cathouse" after having Charlie Utter bring her a wagon of cats for her Deadwood brothel[citation needed].

Dora had several brothels over the years. The most popular was called "Diddlin' Dora's", located on Fifth Avenue in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. "Diddlin' Dora's advertised itself as 'Three D's - Dining, Drinking and Dancing - a place where you can bring your mother.' And though the cowboys frequented the popular place, most just wanted to 'get down to business,' with at least one man remarking, 'I wouldn't want my mother to know I had ever been there.' "[3]

Dora's other brothels in South Dakota were located in Lead, Miles City, Sturgis, and Deadwood. While in Deadwood, Dora got married and continued her brothel operations. After her husband's death, she moved the business to Rapid City, South Dakota, where she continued having success as a brothel owner.[4]

Marriage[edit]

Dora married Joseph M. DuFran (June 16, 1862 - August 3, 1909), "a personable gentleman gambler" who helped grow her business.[5]

Death[edit]

Dora died of heart failure in 1934. Her pet parrot Fred and husband Joseph are buried with her at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.[6]

Publication[edit]

DuFran (under the pseudonym: d'Dee) published a 12-page booklet on Calamity Jane titled Low Down on Calamity Jane (1932).[7] In 1981, this booklet was reprinted in an expanded 47-page version, edited by Helen Rezatto.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ findagrave.com http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Dufran&GSiman=1&GScid=97271&GRid=8089519& Accessed July 2, 2014
  2. ^ Adams Museum website
  3. ^ "[OBITS] Madam Dora DuFran aka Amy Helen Dorothy Bolshow". Archiver.Rootsweb.Ancestry.com. Mon, 06 Oct 2008 05:17:15 -0000. 
  4. ^ "[OBITS] Madam Dora DuFran aka Amy Helen Dorothy Bolshow". Archiver.Rootsweb.Ancestry.com. Mon, 06 Oct 2008 05:17:15 -0000. 
  5. ^ "[OBITS] Madam Dora DuFran aka Amy Helen Dorothy Bolshow". Archiver.Rootsweb.Ancestry.com. Mon, 06 Oct 2008 05:17:15 -0000. 
  6. ^ "[OBITS] Madam Dora DuFran aka Amy Helen Dorothy Bolshow". Archiver.Rootsweb.Ancestry.com. Mon, 06 Oct 2008 05:17:15 -0000. 
  7. ^ d'Dee (1932). Low Down on Calamity Jane. Rapid City, South Dakota. ASIN B00089D9QA. 
  8. ^ D'Dee (1981). Helen Rezatto, ed. Low Down on Calamity Jane. Deadwood, South Dakota: H. Rezatto. ASIN B007FDPBPE.