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|Horace Austin Warner Tabor|
|United States Senator
January 27, 1883 – March 4, 1883
|Preceded by||George M. Chilcott|
|Succeeded by||Thomas M. Bowen|
|2nd Lieutenant Governor of Colorado|
|Preceded by||Lafayette Head|
|Succeeded by||William H. Meyer|
November 26, 1830|
|Died||April 10, 1899
Horace Austin Warner ("Haw") Tabor (November 26, 1830 – April 10, 1899), also known as The Bonanza King of Leadville, was an American prospector, businessman, and politician. His life is the subject of Douglas Moore's opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe; and the 1932 Hollywood biographical movie: Silver Dollar. Also, Graham Masterton's 1987 novel Silver has a protagonist named Henry T. Roberts, whose life includes incidents from Tabor's.
- Section source: Legends.
Stonemason and storekeeper
After training as a stonemason, Tabor left home at age 19 to work the quarries of Maine and Massachusetts. In 1855, he departed for the Kansas Territory with the New England Emigrant Aid Company to populate that territory with anti-slavery settlers. There he farmed land along Deep Creek in Riley County, near Manhattan, Kansas (known today as Tabor Valley). In January 1856, Tabor was elected to the Free-State Topeka Legislature, but that body was soon dispersed by President Franklin Pierce in favor of the pro-slavery legislature that had been elected under the influence of "Border Ruffians" from Missouri.
In 1857 Tabor returned briefly to Maine to marry Augusta Pierce, daughter of his former employer William B. Pierce, then returned with her to Riley County. In 1859, as rumors of gold began to spread, the couple moved west with the "Fifty-Niners" to Denver (still in Kansas Territory at the time). The Tabors arrived in Buckskin Joe, Colorado in 1861 to run a store. In a few months they relocated to the Oro City area where Horace sought gold until 1877, when they settled in Leadville, Colorado. There he continued prospecting while also engaging in business and politics. The couple ran Leadville's general store and postal system and, following his election on January 26, 1878, Tabor served as mayor of Leadville for one year. It was Tabor who first hired lawman Mart Duggan, who is credited with finally bringing Leadville's violent crime rate under control.
On May 3, 1878, the "Little Pittsburg" mine claimed by August Rische and George Hook revealed massive silver lodes, kicking off the "Colorado Silver Boom." Tabor had provisioned the men for free, under a "grubstake" arrangement, and used his partial ownership of Little Pittsburg to invest in other holdings. He eventually sold his interest for one million dollars, and bought sole ownership of the profitable "Matchless Mine" for $117,000. The Matchless Mine can still be seen and visited. With his new wealth, Tabor established newspapers, a bank, the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, and the Tabor Grand Opera House and the Tabor Block in Denver. He also displayed his philanthropy by, for example, donating the land under the Temple Israel in 1884.
Also in 1878, Tabor was elected Lieutenant Governor of Colorado and served in that post until January 1884. He served as U.S. Senator from January 27, 1883 until March 4, 1883, following the resignation of Henry M. Teller. On March 1, 1883, Tabor finally legalized his relationship with Elizabeth "Baby Doe" McCourt in a public (and, to some, scandalous) wedding ceremony at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. after securing a divorce from Augusta. This marriage produced two daughters, Elizabeth Bonduel Lily and Rosemary Silver Dollar Echo; from his marriage to Augusta, Tabor had a son, Maxey.
Decline, death and burial
Tabor ran for Colorado governor in 1884, 1886, and 1888, without success. Then, in 1893, the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act devastated Tabor's fortune and his far-flung holdings were sold off. Still a respected public figure, he was made postmaster of Denver from January 4, 1898 until his death the following year.
When he became terminally ill with appendicitis in 1899, Tabor's final request of Baby Doe was that she maintain the Matchless claim. Legend reports that she did but lost control of the mine. Baby Doe lived in the tool shed of the Matchless mine for thirty years and later died in that shed.
When Horace Tabor died in 1899, flags were flown at half staff and 10,000 people were reported to have attended his funeral. His body was interred at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Denver and later reinterred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Jefferson County, Colorado, where it now rests beside that of Baby Doe.
In his remembrance, there is a Tabor Lake at the base of Tabor Peak approximately 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Leadville, just south of Independence Pass.
Silver Dollar Tabor
In "Silver Dollar, the Story of the Tabors," published in 1932, author David Karsner related that William Jennings Bryan, the politician and orator, visited the Tabors in 1890 shortly after the birth of their second daughter. Hearing the baby gurgle, Bryan exclaimed: "Why Senator, that baby's laughter has the ring of a silver dollar!" The Tabors had not yet decided on a name for the girl, and this remark was the inspiration for her name: Rosemary Silver Dollar Echo Honeymoon Tabor.
After working as a newspaper reporter in Denver, Silver Dollar was ready to write her novel, Star of Blood. Moving to Chicago, and living cheaply, she set to work. Karsner wrote, "The best that can be said of Silver's book is that it was printed - not published." It was wildly unpopular.
Silver Dollar worked her minor celebrity for all it was worth, but after a string of burlesque and minor acting jobs, she came to a bad end. The one-time "Girl of the Nile," says Karsner, liked heavy drinking and "Happy Dust." Going by the name of Ruth Norman, among many other aliases, after the men who supported her, she died at the age of 35 in 1925 by spilling a large kettle of boiling water on herself while she was extremely intoxicated.
- Record from Colorado archives
- Northland Journal, November 2008, page 6, "Horace Tabor, Silver King of the West, Has Roots in Holland, Vermont," Scott Wheeler
- Biography presented on LegendsOfAmerica.com
- Evelyn E. Livingston Furman, The Tabor Opera House: a Captivating History.
- Quit-Claim Deed recorded in Lake County in Book 96, Page No. 171.
- "Senators of the United States, 1789-2009". Senate Historical Office. United States Senate. February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- "Cinema: The New Pictures: Jan. 2, 1933". Time. January 2, 1933.
- Judy Nolte Temple, Baby Doe Tabor: The Madwoman in the Cabin. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press,2007.
- David Karsner, Silver Dollar: The Story of the Tabors. New York: Covici-Friede, Inc., 1932.
- The Political Graveyard's entry, protected by a Creative Commons License
- Contemporary biography
- Tabor's wives:
- Matchless mine website
|United States Senate|
George M. Chilcott
|United States Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Nathaniel P. Hill
Thomas M. Bowen