Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series. Part 2 – A Circled Kiss
by Francisco A. Rios
(Editor’s note: Dr. Rios, a retired professor from the University of Colorado at Denver, spent 805 volunteer hours over a span of one year and seven months cataloging hundreds of letters from the Tabor Collection at the Colorado Historical Society (CHS) onto a computer database. We are reproducing some of these letters as a series with the generous permission of the CHS.)
In the Tabor correspondence, no one uses the name Baby Doe. Her family calls her Lizzie, and Horace, after opening his letters with “My Darling Wife,” calls her Babe. In the Tabor collection at the Historical Society, she appears, for brevity’s sake, as EBT, for Elizabeth Bonduel Tabor, which will come in handy for her later, as she plays off this name to create aliases for herself. This series will refer to her as EBT or Mrs. Tabor and reserve the name Baby Doe for her early years in Leadville.
In one of Horace’s letters to EBT, he told her that he had done as she had instructed him with regard to her letters. Her instructions to Horace may have been to destroy her letters or to return them to her so that she could dispose of them. In any case, and knowing how extremely private EBT was, it’s not surprising that we don’t have more of her love letters to him. She may not have written that many anyway. In fact, Horace chides her in one letter her for not writing to him for six months.
But we do have one revealing letter from EBT to Horace, although we have to rely on the content to deduce who wrote to whom and when. In the Tabor collection, this letter carries the designation “File Folder 180-10, [HAWT], [EBT], [Denver], no date.” The brackets mean that presumably EBT wrote the letter to Horace, presumably from Denver, but her letter has no date. The internal evidence indicates, we will see, that EBT wrote it in early 1890.
The winter of 1889/1890 was a busy time. A tailor in London, no less, solicits Horace’s custom. Then there’s a dinner for president McKinley. Gifts to send out, including a gold-headed cane, arrangements to make for the State Silver Convention, applications to EBT asking for work as Governess and lady’s maid, an architect’s plans for a fountain in Tabor’s yard, and unsurprisingly, a genealogist has found a Tabor coat of arms, in time for Tabor’s run for the Senate. There are wedding announcements, shop openings to which EBT is invited, and dozens of pleas for jobs and money. In the midst of all this, EBT gives birth to her second daughter, Silver Dollar, on December 17 1889.
With one word undecipherable, here is EBT’s love letter to Horace:
My own darling
How sorry I feel that I cannot go with you, for to please you my own is the desire of my heart, and I would do anything for your dear sake but not knowing that you would wish us_____ until yesterday afternoon has made it almost impossible, as I have no clothes, cloak &c and Cupid [Lily] has no winter ones, and we cannot buy for her then the baby [Silver Dollar] would be such a trial not completely weaned & with that sore nose, and Cupid’s hands, & my breasts full of milk, that I feel sure we would suffer with shame going in such shape
I love you with all my heart, would do anything to please you and when I said I would go back to the rooms if you would do one thing for me, you said “I will do it” I said I fear you will not. You said “Oh yes I will what is it,” then I asked you not to go to N.Y. I asked you that because I cannot live one day without seeing you my own true love, because I want you with me I am not happy away from you not one hour and to please you I would gladly sacrifice anything
Your Loving Wife
Knowing all the “Kisses” that appeared at the end of Horace’s letters—fifteen times in one —I believe that EBT kissed this letter, then circled her kiss, so that Horace could kiss her vicariously. I presume, too, that Horace kissed that spot repeatedly. More than a hundred years on, of course there is no trace of lipstick on the letter.
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