Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

Part 4 –  The Divorce and Death of Augusta Tabor
by Francisco A. Rios

Since conjecture leads to supposition, we can suppose that the “old critter” in last month’s letter was Augusta Tabor. At the end of this month’s installment we shall read of her death in California. Meanwhile, it is enlightening to read a letter from Horace’s sister in Kansas and note the opinion that she has of Augusta and the justification that she offers to Horace for leaving Augusta. E.J. Moys wrote with family news from Lawrence, Kansas on April 25 1881:

“Dear Brother Horace.
I have written you several times lately directed to Leadville and not knowing your box number chance is you did not get them. Father is down sick again not so bad as before but quite bad but I am in hopes he will not be sick long as he was before. At his age he cannot be expected to live long but tis so hard to have him suffer If he only could go suddenly it would be a relief to us all I know, but of course we must do all we can. He is the greatest care I ever had on my hands, sick children are nothing to compare with it. I am very anxious for you to send the money enough to pay the Dr’s bill. It is impossible for me to do it. neither do I think you want me too…
of course I see the Leadville papers and know of the course Gusta is taking and must say she has much audacity. I do not blame you for leaving her. You could not bear her fretting and complaining any longer. I saw enough when I was in Denver, never satisfied with one thing you did or anything you got for her, neither house, carriage, diamonds or anything you did ever please her. I have gotten tired of her letters of complaints to me and have not written her for sometime. I will direct this to the Windsor”

Augusta, apparently still in love with Horace, wrote a desparing letter to him from Denver on Sept 3 1881:

“Dear Husband
I am in town and would like very much to go to the Tabor Grand and witness the Glory that you are to receive. Believe me that none will be more proud of it than your broken hearted wife.
Will you not take me there and by so doing stop the gossip that is so busy with our affairs.
God knows that I am truely sorry for our estrangement and will humble myself in the dust at your feet if you will only return. Whatever I said to you was done in the heat of passion and you know the awful condition that I was in when it was said. Pity I beseech you and forgive me. And let us bury the past and commence anew And my life shall be devoted to you forever
Your loveing Wife

Augusta’s appeal did not have the desired effect on Horace. The estrangement continued and finally culminated in a divorce.

“2 January 1883
Augusta L. Tabor vs. Horace A.W. Tabor:
Court… doth find that the said defendant Horace A.W. Tabor, has been guilty of willfully deserting and absenting himself from the complainant, Augusta L. Tabor, for a period of more than one  year immediately previous to the filing of this bill of complaint, to wit, ever since the month of January AD 1881, and has failed, neglected and refused to furnish any assistance or support to the plaintiff or to provide for her since the month of January AD 1881.
Therefore it is ordered, adjudged and decreed by the Court that the bonds of matrimony heretofore existing between the complainant Augusta L. Tabor, and the defendant, Horace A.W. Tabor, be and the same are hereby dissolved and for naught held.
It is further ordered adjudged and decreed by the Court that the defendant pay the costs of this suit.
Benj. F. Harrington, County Judge, Arapahoe County, Colo.”

The financial terms of the divorce were as follows:

“Whereas H.A.W. Tabor has, this 2nd day of January AD 1883, given and granted unto me, Agusta L. Tabor, Block Three (3) in H.C. Brown’s Addition to the City of Denver; Also the property known and called La Veta Place in said City, County of Arapahoe, State of Colorado; all of which property and premises are valued and estimated to be of the value of at least Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars, which I hereby receive and accept in lieu of all claim for alimony, maintenance and support forever, and no other or further claim or demand shall ever be made upon said Horace A.W. Tabor for alimony, maintenance or support, I am also to have and hold all the personal property in and around the house on Block No. Three (3) as my sole and separate property.
Augusta L. Tabor”

Augusta returned to court later the same month and ascertained to her satisfaction that her divorce from Horace was “null and void.” And she still “subscribes” herself as his “loving Wife,” as she wrote on Jan 31 1883:

“Dear Husband
I am happy to say I am not divorced, And that you are still mine. All the intimidations And threats were of no avail. When I went into court, and swore that I had not concented to it willingly And I have since accertained that the divorce is null and void. Now this is the 26th anniversary of our wedding. Just such a storm as we are having today, we were married in. And surely we did not live in a storm all those 24 years that you were at home!
Now you have had the honors of Senateship which you deserted me for. And when your month is out Come home and let us live in harmony Or I will come to you. There is no need of haveing our case dragged through court again. And as I am your wife I shall stand upon my rights.
I have consulted several prominent Judges and they all tell me that it was a farce. Even Judge Leich will not tell me that it will stand therefore I subscribe myself your loving
Mrs HAW. Tabor

Augusta’s last letter to Horace, addressed to him at the Windsor, is torn and faded almost to illegibility:

“Denver May 27th 83
Mr. Tabor
Dear Sir
You promised me a Box at the Opera House.
Now I want you to make arrangements so that I can have it … I wish to go and … and mine.
Mrs. Tabor”

Across the top of the letter, written in pencil:
“From the Old Woman”

An article in the Pasadena News announces Augusta’s death in 1895. It was found among the Tabor Collection and “Copied from an old scrap book presented to the State Historical Society by Maude Postle Waits, daughter of Judge W T Rogers. This is the only printed reference proving the date of Mrs. Tabor’s death.” An additonal handwritten note reads “See Rocky Mountain News Feb 2 1895 Front page story of Augusta Tabor’s death.”

“Augusta L Tabor
Death of a cherished member of the Pioneer Ladies’ Aid
Pneumonia proved fatal after a brief illness in Pasadena
One of the Wealthiest Women in Colorado owing to to shrewd investments.
Maxcy Tabor the only child and heir presumptive to a very valuable estate.
Fatal termination of a three months’ tour taken on account of impaired health.

Special to the News: Pasadena, California, Feb. 1, 1895.
Mrs. Augusta L. Tabor of Denver died here today of pneumonia after an illness lasting a week. Since Mrs. Tabor came to this place she has been much of a recluse.
Mrs. Tabor was tall and not ungraceful in appearance. Her features were somewhat angular and she lived such a quiet life that many citizens of Denver did not know that the lady in black who passed along without the slightest ostentation or display was one of the wealthiest women in the West. It is said that Mrs. Tabor was the principal in many acts of charity, but she seldom talked upon the subject to her friends and the world will never know the extent to which she distributed her wealth for the alleviation of distress. As a pioneer woman she performed her part in paving the way for the advantages which are presented today. No other woman of Colorado has developed the financial ability which marked the course of Mrs. Tabor for ten or fifteen years. With her departure passes from the stage a historical character of the state.”

Dr. Francisco A. Rios is a Colorado native who taught Spanish literature, culture, civilization and language for 30 years at the University of Colorado at Denver. He was also Chairman of the Dept. of Modern Languages for ten of those years. He is now a volunteer for the Colorado History Museum and for the Denver Police Department.

2 thoughts on “Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series”

  1. Many many thanks for the details you have provided. My love for the music, story and all historical information regarding the Ballad of Baby Doe Opera has been a deep part of my soul for over 50 years. I am very greatful to you for spending the time to further the details and background and to help continue this most romantic and romanticized story. My wife and I are currently involved in attempting to locate further grant support for continued restoration of the Horace Taybor Opera house in Leadville. The dear lady who is attempting to maintain a viable venue (and the building) has taken over the responsibility from her now elderly mother who purchased the opera house many years ago as a labor of love. Many thanks once again, Very Sincerely, Doug Andrews

  2. About a yr. ago my e-mail (not the current) got mixed with that of WALTER TABOR of Denver !! –caused a lot of confusion until I changed it ! :-) Several yrs.ago (I’m now workin’ on 96 ! :-),Denver was part of my 5 state sales territory—always did well there—musta thought I was related to the Denver clan. –wt

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