Wild Women Of The West: Mollie May

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Mollie May reached the top of her profession by becoming a madam of one of
Leadville, Colorado’s, best-known brothels. Mollie, like so many in her trade, had
been seduced by a suitor while still in her teens. Scorned and humiliated, she
turned her back on “respectable society” and left for the frontier, appearing in the
1870’s in Cheyenne and the Black Hills, and finally in 1878, in Leadville. Here
Mollie remained until her death, becoming a well-known and almost respectable
personage. Many citizens turned out for her funeral, and the local paper published
a poem in her honor. It said in part:

Talk if you will of her
But speak no ill of her
The sins of the living are not of the dead.
Remember her charity,
Forget all disparity,
Let her judges be they whom she sheltered and fed.

The exodus of Mollie May after her seduction was fairly typical, though there were
some women who became prostitutes by choice. But the guardians of Victorian
moralism preferred to believe that those unfortunates who turned from the virtuous
path did so because they had been wronged.

On December 15, 1901, the Pueblo Star-Journal printed a real tearjerker on page
one:

He Found His Sister in a Questionable House

In his wanderings in search of the girl, Libblin, a day or two ago, came across the
agent of the human society who, upon hearing the story, recalled that she had
during the years past received application for assistance from a Rose Libblin. She
gave the young man a note to the keeper of one of the larger resorts of the city,
and armed with this he visited the red-light district and found his sister. He
immediately recognized her though she was much changed in the appearance from
the beautiful girl that Libblin had left when he went to Montana years ago.

She gladly consented to leave the life that she claims misfortune had forced her
into, and Libblin will devote himself to providing a respectable living with himself
and his sister. Till five years ago the Libblin family lived on a ranch between Rye
and this city, and were well known to the Pueblo people.

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