Monday, October 5, 2015

The Soiled Doves of old Abilene!

The “Soiled Doves” of old Abilene

When Joseph McCoy started the booming cattle trafficking in Abilene, the town started growing way beyond everybody’s expectations.  When gaming houses and brothels started popping up, the good women of Abilene spoke up – Loudly!  It was decided those establishment would be moved across the railroad tracks.  Thus, the “Red Light” District came to be.  Some nicknames such as:  Devil’s Addition, The Valley, Devil’s Island, Texas Village” and other less dignified titles could be heard on many men’s lips.

Each house paid the city a $200 license fee, as did the saloons.  A few of the women were well educated, refined in appearance, but most were addicted to heavy drinking.

The brothel colony was fenced off like and six or eight barracks-type building were erected to house the women.  Eventually a few house “madams’ began to surface, but nowhere is there any mention of vice bosses trying to take over and control the prostitute racket in Abilene.  Each girl paid rent for her own crib in a house, more or less a business all her own.

Each staked her being as freely as a poker chip.  Most were truly “Pistol packin’ mamma’s,” carrying small pearl handled revolvers or knives in their boots under layer of petticoats.

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Thanks so much for stopping by.  Several of my historical western romances take place in Kansas in the mid 1800s.

By the way, as a thank you for visiting, I am going to choose one commenter to receive an eBook of their choice between Jesse’s Find, Jesse’s Nightmare, or Justice Comes to Salina.  Be sure to leave an email address!

Jesse’s Find, Book One of the Jesse’s Series

“Jesse,” Ginny asked when they were on the road, “when you asked her about her son she said he was spending his time in the Devil’s Addition as a box herder. She seemed disgusted with him. What does that mean?”

The Devil’s Addition is an area of town in Abilene where some saloons and whore…or brothels are located. A box herder is a man who keeps the – ladies in line.”

She looked at him, plainly confused and then her eyes opened wide. “You mean there are soiled doves in this town?”
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Soiled doves? Yep, Abilene has its share of them.”

On November 2, I’m talking about the law in old Abilene.  Hope to see you then!!!!!


  1. Penny, I always enjoy your blogs. It always saddens me to think of the women in this lifestyle and how they ended up there.

    1. You are so supportive, Cindy. Thanks for coming by!

  2. Hi Penny,
    It's interesting to read about all the names men come up with to describe places like the red light district in towns. I doubt any other place has that distinction!

    1. I think your are right Kathryn. I sure appreciate you stopping by!

  3. History seems to point to some women who were comfortable with prostitution, but for many it appears to have been one of the limited choices they had. Not a easy life that is for sure. Thank you for adding to the great history of Abilene and the best on your books. History, great characters, what's not to love. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

    1. Yep....It would have been so hard. I thank you very much for stopping by!!!

  4. Very interesting information. I have a WIP set in the same locality, and I need to get it finished in the coming year. It is interesting to see the plot map of old Abilene with the districts you mentioned south of the tracks. You are becoming one of my research resources!

  5. What a fascinating bit of Abilene history! Thanks for sharing, Penny.