Just when you think you've seen it all, another unusual thing pops out of the history of the old west and leaves you gasping, "Can that be true?" Such is the case of Eleanor Dumont. You may have already noticed this picture of her and wondered, "Is that really a mustache above her lip?" You bet it is. But her mustache isn't the only thing about Eleanor that makes her interesting.
It is believed that Eleanor was born in France and was a young woman when she moved to America about the time of the big Gold Rush. She kept her past private so no one knows much about her before she arrived in the west and she moved around quite a bit. The woman had some talent at cards--always good to have a skill that men are attracted to back in the west. Shoot, if a woman couldn't bake a pie, the next best thing was playing cards in games of chance.
In Nevada City, California, Eleanor, then sans the mustache, opened a gambling establishment she named "Vingt-et-un" on Broad Street. It was quite an elite place. Only well dressed men were allowed and no women other than herself. Nothing like being the only woman in a crowd of men to become the most popular woman there. Of course, at that time, Eleanor was quite the beauty.
For a time, she lived in Carson City where she bought a ranch and some animals. This farming venture reminds my of my maternal grandmother and her venture into the farming business with less than adequate farming knowledge. Eleanor fell in love with Jack McKnight. Turns out good old Jack conned her out of all her money and then took off. Never the shrinking violet, Eleanor tracked down the scoundrel and shot him dead. She was never charged for his murder. Maybe old Jack had quite a few enemies or, perhaps, Eleanor was well liked.
She roamed from town to town building businesses and rebuilding her money. As she began to age, her famous mustache began to grown and her looks faded. Her business, however, remained popular because she had a reputation for fairness. She also became the madame of a brothel. To the shock of the town's decent women, Eleanor would parade her fine ladies down the street in carriages to show off their good looks and elegant clothes to the men of the town.
In 1878 in Bodie, California, Eleanor's luck ran out. She borrowed $300 and lost it all in a card game. Distraught, she left the table and was found dead the next morning from an overdose of morphine.
And so ends the life and times of Eleanor Dumont or "Madame Mustache".
Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media: