Tales of the Old West from Arthur H. Clark
Arthur H. Clark's 920th catalogue of western and other books.
By Michael Stillman
The Arthur H. Clark Company recently issued its catalogue #920 of Americana, the West and more. It is a collection of rare books recently acquired by the Old West specialist. Much of the material covers the more obscure incidents and personalities of this region. However, Clark's books aren't limited to the west, so you will find some other interesting works slipping into their catalogues.
There's no greater rags to riches, and riches to rags story of the Old West than that of the Tabors. H.A.W. (Horace) Tabor was a Vermonter who made his way to Colorado in 1859. For 19 years he made a reasonably good living mining part of the time, serving as postmaster, and running a store. A generous man, in 1878, he staked a couple of poor German shoemakers with mining equipment in return for a one-third interest in whatever they found. Find they did. A large vein of silver was soon producing $8,000 a week. Tabor bought out his partners, and in time acquired numerous mines around Leadville, Colorado. His wealth grew to the millions, while his generosity remained undiminished. He purchased a fire station and opera house for his town, and an opera house for Denver. He gave away money seemingly to anyone who asked, while living lavishly himself. When his wife rejected his luxurious lifestyle, he divorced her and married Elizabeth Doe, a vivacious young lady 25 years his junior, better known as "Baby Doe." They lived a life of wealth and luxury until 1893, when the government stopped purchasing silver for coinage. Overnight, the silver market collapsed, and with it, Tabor's wealth. He was forced to sell virtually everything they owned, even Baby's Doe's jewelry. Tabor, who had served as Lieutenant Governor, and even 30 days as a Colorado senator, was penniless. About all he was able to hold onto was the closed down Matchless Mine, the one he believed would one day reestablish his wealth.
Most people thought Baby Doe would abandon her now poor older husband, but she stood by her man. In 1898, friends arranged for Tabor to be appointed Postmaster of Denver, but a year later, he died without ever recovering his riches. Supposedly, his final advice to Baby Doe was "hang on to the Matchless," Tabor being convinced that it would again be worth millions when silver recovered. Baby Doe took his words to heart. She returned to Leadville, moved into a shack alongside the Matchless Mine, and remained there until her death in 1935. The mine never reopened and Baby Doe spent most of those last thirty-five years a reclusive pauper, living for a dream that never returned. Clark offers two books about the Tabors. Item 121 is Silver Dollar: The Story of the Tabors, by David Karsner, a 1945 edition of a book originally published in 1934. It recounts Horace Tabor's exciting, and ultimately tragic, life. Priced at $16.50. Item 129 is Silver Queen: the fabulous story of Baby Doe Tabor, by Caroline Bancroft, a thirteenth edition. It's a fascinating story. $9.50.
Tales of the Old West from Arthur H. Clark
Carry Nation is described by Clark as, "one of America's most uninhibited crusaders against drinking, tobacco, sex, the Masonic Lodge, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and others." She was undoubtedly an all around charmer, but she saved her best for saloons. Carry is best remembered for her pro-temperance activities, primarily her habit of marching into saloons and breaking up the place with her trademark hatchet. She sold replicas of this tool to pay the fines she incurred. While others may have spoken more eloquently on behalf of temperance, it is doubtful any had quite the impact on the country's population that Carry and her hatchet had. However, if you think Carry Nation was always some wide-eyed radical, she had it right with regard to men when she pointed out, "Men are nicotine-soaked, beer-besmirched, whiskey-greased, red-eyed devils." Even the most radical among us occasionally stumble upon well-reasoned truths. The book is Vessel of Wrath: The Life and Times of Carry Nation, by Robert Lewis Taylor. Item 61. $17.50.
Mountain Charley was no gentleman. You can read about "Charley's" interesting life in Mountain Charley: or the adventures of Mrs. E.J. Guerin, who was thirteen years in male attire: an autobiography... Her story, and we caution that a later biography by a contemporary contradicts much of what she says, goes like this. A "love child" before anyone heard of that term, she was raised by an aunt and uncle until, at age 5, she was sent off to school, never to return. At 12, she ran away from school, got married, had two children, and found herself a widowed mother at age 15 when her husband was murdered. Unable to support her children, she turned them over to the Sisters of Charity, and disguised herself as a man, so few jobs being open to women in those days. She spent four years working on a steamer, and then got a job as a brakeman for the Illinois Central, a job she lost when her true identity was discovered. Next she headed west with a group of men searching for gold. She wasn't successful, but did better opening up a saloon and buying a ranch. However, she was drawn back to confront her husband's killer. She would engage him in two shootouts, but each survived both. After the second, Charley's adversary outed her. Her secret revealed, she remarried, thus becoming Mrs. Guerin, but we are told she continued to don men's clothes, evidently for the fun of it. Item 54 is the 1968 University of Oklahoma Press reprinting of this tale of crossdressing in the Old West. $25.
Item 153 is the Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the year 1870. Published by author Nathaniel Langford in 1905, it recounts the first expedition into the upper Yellowstone region. Langford would go on to be the first superintendent of Yellowstone Park. $250.
You may find The Arthur H. Clark Company online at www.ahclark.com or reach them by phone at 800-842-9286.