Sunday, May 1, 2016

Big Nose Kate

Big Nose Kate approximately
40 yrs old

Mary Katherine Horony (Big Nose Kate), would not be known today if it wasn't for her "on again, off again" relationship with Doc Holliday and the Earp Brothers. 

Born in 1850 in Budapest, Hungary, was the highly educated daughter of a physician. Her family came to the US in 1860 arriving in New York where they spent the next year. In 1861 her father was appointed the personal physician to Emperor Maximillan I of Mexico. They lived there until the crumble of Maximillian's government, when they then moved to Davenport, IA. When Kate was 15 years old, both her parent died; her brothers and sister lived with her brother-in-law and Kate ran away. She stowed away on a riverboat headed to St. Louis, MO. In 1869 she entered a convent but didn't stay long. 

In 1874 she was fined for working as a 'sporting woman' in a sporting house in Dodge City, KS ran by Nellie "Bessie" Earp, wife of James Earp.  In 1875 Kate moved to Fort Griffin, TX where she met John Henry "Doc" Holliday. The two fought regularly and sometimes violently.  She helped break Doc free when arrested and wrongly charged for a robbery. They stole horses and ended up in Dodge City, KS until a visit from Wyatt Earp encouraging them and his brother James and his wife Bessie to move to Prescott, AZ in 1879. The moved to Prescott where they separated with Doc staying in Prescott with Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp.  Kate heard money was to be made in Globe, AZ so she moved there. She and Doc would meet off and on in Tucson until Virgil Earp, then US Marshall in Tombstone, sent for his brothers and Doc to help him with a situation in Tombstone.  Kate went to Tombstone to be with Doc and was there during the famous shootout.  She wrote later in a letter to her niece, "Doc returned to the room after the shootout, sat on the edge of his bed and wept from the shock of what had happened during this close-range gunfight. He said, 'that was awful, just awful."

Kate was with Doc Holliday in Glenwood Springs, CO when he died. She
returned to Arizona and spent 30 years of her life in the Cochise area until she was 80 years old. Weak and frail, she contacted her longtime friend, AZ Governor George Hunt wanting assistance in getting her into the Arizona Pioneers' Retirement Home in Prescott, AZ. It took Kate six months to be admitted since the home required that you live in the state 50 years and be a US Citizen. She was the first female resident of the home and died in 1950. a week before her 90th birthday. She is buried in Prescott at the Pioneer's Cemetery.

Kate was a larger than life character who lived to see stories of her own life and supposed death. In real life, she died in bed, having survived a world that was hard on women. Kate never denied that she was a rip-roaring, hard drinking, gun-slingin' prostitute. She was an independent woman who saw prostitution as a way to be in control of her own life, answering to no one.

Kate said of life: "Part is funny and part is sad, but such is life any way to take it."