- Born to William B. Pierce and Lucy Eaton in 1833 Augusta, Maine.
- In her early twenties, she courted Horace Tabor, then one of her father's employees.
- Married Tabor in 1857 before moving west to the Kansas Territory.
- Gave birth to one son, Nathaniel "Maxcy" Tabor, during this marriage.
- Moved with Horace to Denver on news of a gold rush, where she worked as a cook, laundress and postmistress.
- Settled in Leadville, CO, where she shared in ownership of the Little Pittsburgh and Matchless silver mines, often cooking for and ministering to the miners.
- Tabor built her a twenty-room mansion in Denver during his term as Colorado Lt. Governor.
- After Tabor's scandalous affair with Baby Doe, she was divorced in 1883 and took up full residence in her Denver mansion, eventually running it as a boarding house. In 1892, she had moved across the the street to live at the Brown Palace Hotel, ran by her son.
- Devoted her newfound single life to cultural and social philanthropy, with special attention to the Pioneer Ladies Aid Society and Unity Unitarian Church of Denver.
- As Horace and Baby Doe lost their fortunes to the decline of silver, Augusta abandoned the trade and thus lived comfortably, if frugally, for the remainder of her life.
- In need of a climate more conducive to her deteriorating health in the last years of her life, she eventually moved to Pasadena, California, where she died in 1895 at the age of 62.
- Having died a wealthy woman, Augusta Tabor left her son Maxcy a fortune of $1.5 million.
- Buried in Denver, Colorado. An inscription on her tombstone reads: "She came where there were no roads and left a path for us to follow. She came to a wilderness and made it a place of settlement. She fed the hungry and healed the sick, giving generously of those motherly gifts which settled rough mining camps. She came searching for gold and left behind the treasure of civilization."
Composer Douglas Moore sought a darker vocal color for Augusta Tabor, presumably to contrast the high lyric coloratura lines of Baby Doe. As such, the role has been performed by several Mezzo-Sopranos, chief among them Frances Bible (who recorded Augusta in the 1959 New York City Opera recording), Joyce Castle and Martha Lipton, creator of the role. The composer wrote several monologues and scenes that highlight and deepen the character's joys, anger, suspicions and pain. Act One, Scene Five (as seen in the video below) is an especially dramatic scene in which Augusta's friends venomously inform her of Horace's plans to divorce. She is resolved to ruin him. Taken from a recent Central City Opera production, the video below features Mezzo-Soprano Joyce Castle as Augusta:
You can learn more about Augusta Tabor and the other historical figures of the opera by visiting BabyDoe.org
The Ballad of Baby Doe runs February 8th (8pm) and 10th (3pm) at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts on the campus of Chaminade College Preparatory School (425 S. Lindbergh Blvd; map). Tickets may be purchased by calling 314-865-0038 or online at http://winteroperastl.tix.com/ $10 Student Rush Tickets available at the door; valid Student ID required. For more information on this and future productions, visit WinterOperaSTL.org