Re: The Soiled Doves

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Posted by Cecile on December 03, 2002 at 10:23:54:

In Reply to: Re: Thanksgiving & a Taste of Christmas at Cerro Gordo posted by Info on the better know woman of Bodie on December 03, 2002 at 04:05:19:

Let me give you the following list of books from my library - then tell me what I know or don't know about the prostitutes. Then when you are done reading the list you go over to my website and my story on Christmas in the Mines and you will find out I know about not only the first woman hung in California, but the one that almost followed her to the gallows. Also before I post that list of books, let me tell you that I do have a complete library on nearly every subject, but specializing in California history, and I am smart enough to know where to search on the internet or who to ask
to get the appropriate information. I should also tell you that I collect books on the soiled doves and the history of the pioneer women. Both my husband and I are historians. I also have known, and currently know some of the authors of the books in my library, and I know some of the pioneer grandchildren personally.

I also know that many of the women who chose to become ladies of the nights chose their profession to escape miserable childhoods and make something of themselves on their own in one of the only ways available to them in a world where women had know rights and often no respect. A few women even left husband and children behind to live the life of a prostitute rather than spend a life of drudgery locked in an abusive marriage. One woman in particular left her farm in the midwest to brave the trail, and come to the mining camps to work in the red light disricts. The money she earned she would send back home so her children would have a better life than her. Yes it was a horrible life, but for many women it was better than the alternative they had if they stayed home - at least in some minute way they felt they had a bit more control than they did in their past lives. And once in while the money they earned afforded them a few luxuries in fine clothes and jewelery that they might not have.

There were various social structures within the red light district. The madam, of course, would have been at the top level. She was totally in charge of her life, and she could pick or choose whether she wanted to spend her lifetime having selling sex or not because she managed the other girls. The money she made allowed her fine clothes, fine furnitures, etc. She had business skills, and freedoms that a mere housewife would most likely never seen. There were the saloons, the hurdy gurdy houses, the brothels, the cribs, all covering various levels of life from luxury to the bottom of the pit. The saddest stories of all were the Chinese slave girls who were brought over and tied to chains in dark damp rooms reduced the state of an animal, men thrown to them like a bone to a dog.

I could go on and on but I think I have made my point. Read for yourselves any of the following books and you can get a real clear idea of the life of the woman prostitute in the 1800's.

Daughters of Joy, sisters of Misery: Prostitutes in the American West 1865-90 by Anne M. Butler

Soiled Doves:Prostitution in the Early West: by Anne Seagraves

Gold Diggers & Silver Miners: Prostitution And Social Life on the Comstock Lode by Marion S. Goldman

And here's one I hope Bodie the Dog is familiar with: Rosa May: The Search For a Mining Camp Legend by George Williams III

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