Eleanor Dumont

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Eleanor Dumont
France or New Orleans, Louisiana
Died1879 (aged 49-50)
Bodie, California
Cause of deathSuicide
Other namesMadame Moustache, Simone Jules

Eleanor Dumont, also called Eleonore Alphonsine Dumant, born as Simone Jules (1829-1879), was a notorious gambler on the American Western Frontier, especially during the California Gold Rush. She was also known by her nickname Madame Moustache due to the appearance of a line of dark hair on her upper lip.


The background of Eleanor Dumont is unconfirmed. She arrived in Nevada City in California in 1854. At this point, she appeared to be 20 years old, had taken on the name Eleanor Dumont and capitalized on the fascination of French women prevalent in the West. In reality, however, she was likely born as Simone Jules in 1829, possibly by French Creole parents in New Orleans. [1]


In Nevada City, California, she opened a gambling parlor named Vingt-et-un on Broad Street. She was described an accomplished card dealer, and made a living from twenty-one and other casino games. Only well-kempt men were allowed in, and no women save herself. Reportedly, men admired her for her beauty and charm, but she kept them all at a distance. She flirted, but only to attract customers. Men came from all around to see rarity of "the woman dealer". The parlor found much success, and she went into business with Dave Tobin, an experienced gambler. They opened Dumont's Place, which was successful until the gold started to dry up in Nevada City, and in 1859, she sold the Dumont Gambling Palace and left Tobin and Nevada City.[2]

Moving from place to place, she was reported to work in Bodie, California; Deadwood, South Dakota; Fort Benton, Montana; Pioche, Nevada; Tombstone, Arizona; and San Francisco, California. She moved around from city to city, gambling and building her money again. During her time in Bannack, her famous mustache began to grow, after which she was given the nickname of Madame Moustache. She continued to attract crowds as a gambler and had a long-standing reputation for dealing fair.

Brothel madam[edit]

Dumont added prostitution to her repertoire during the 1860s when she became the madam of a brothel. She kept brothels in many of the cities she visited as a gambler. To promote her business, she paraded her employees around the town in carriages, showing off their beauty in broad daylight, much to the dislike of non-prostitute women.

In 1870, she bought a ranch and some animals in Carson City. It was there that she fell in love with Jack McKnight, who conned her out of all of her money and left her in 1872.


Her last stop was Bodie, California. One night while gambling, she misjudged a play and suddenly owed a lot of money. That night, she wandered outside of town and was found dead on September 8, 1879 of an overdose of morphine, apparently a suicide.[3]


  1. ^ Vickie Jensen, Women Criminals: An Encyclopedia of People and Issues
  2. ^ Michael Rutter, Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West
  3. ^ Bodie Morning News. 9 September 1879. Missing or empty |title= (help)

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