Fannie Porter (February 12, 1873 - c.1940) was a well known madam of the 19th century. She was best known for her association with famous outlaws of the day, and for her popular brothel, Fannie Porter's Sporting House.
Porter was born in England and traveled to America around the age of one with her family. By fifteen she was working as a prostitute in San Antonio, Texas.
By the age of 20, she had started her own brothel. She became extremely popular for her cordial and sincere attitude, her choosing only the most attractive young women as her "girls", her requirement that her "girls" practice good hygiene, and for her always immaculate personal appearance.
Her brothel was located at the corner of Durango and San Saba streets in San Antonio.
|BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID|
By 1895, her brothel in San Antonio was one of the most popular of the Old West. It had by that time become known as a frequent stop off for outlaws on the run from the law.
Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, and other members of the Wild Bunch gang frequented her business.
|ETTA PLACE AND THE SUNDANCE KID|
Porter was well respected for her discretion, always refusing to turn in a wanted outlaw to the authorities. She also was known for being extremely defensive of her "girls", insisting that any who mistreated them never return to her brothel. She generally employed anywhere from five to eight girls, all ranging in age from 18 to 25, and all of whom lived and worked inside her brothel.
By the early 20th century, the tide had begun to turn against active, openly operating brothels. Eventually, she retired, and faded from history. It is not known as to where she went following her retirement. Most agree that she retired semi-wealthy, but it is unknown to where she might have gone. Some stories indicate she returned to England with a wealthy husband, but that has remained unconfirmed.
|SAN ANTONIO IN 1889|
The Sporting District was established in 1889 by the San Antonio city council to contain and regulate prostitution. The area became home to brothels, dance halls, saloons, gambling parlors, and other illegal, or at least vice-oriented, businesses. City officials did not officially condone the activities but rather unofficially regulated them. The area also included many legitimate businesses including hotels and restaurants.
Diego visits the San Antonio Sporting District in search of the outlaw. To create a sporting house, I found information about the real District and a real Madam named Fannie Porter.
(For the story, I created "Miss Hattie's Sporting House.")
Today, the old location of the Sporting District in San Antonio is near the fashionable historic neighborhood called King William.
An Aside Note: One reader suggested my heroine, Kat Garrison, as a single woman, might not live alone in a city and own a house. However, in Texas, from the days of the Republic, single women could buy and sell property, live alone, and had many rights usually designated to men. But when a woman married, her property became his and her rights somewhat diminished. Even with this much freedom, Texas would not give women the right to vote until 1918.
The San Antonio red-light district became known as The Sporting District in 1889 when the city council voted to contain and regulate prostitution.
In addition to brothels, the district contained dance halls, saloons, gambling parlors, hotels, and restaurants.
Businesses in the area provided the city with tens of thousands of dollars annually in licensing fees.
*The district was shut down in 1941 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who at the time commanded Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
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