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Ladies of Denver: Jenny Rogers and Mattie Silks - Part Six

Continued from "Ladies of Denver: Jenny Rogers and Mattie Silks - Part Five"

Jennie returned to Denver and got more deeply involved in her business, expanding her holdings and investments to legal assets, buying land in the northern part of Denver along 16th and 19th streets, land near Sloans Lake and buying several shares in an irrigation and reservoir project in Logan County. Jennie was now 45. IN 1889, she heard that Wood was now running a saloon in Omaha, Nebraska. She wrote him a letter, he wrote back, and so their correspondence began, and August 13th, 1889, they married. Jennie and John were married for eight years when he died, devastating Jennie, who had him buried in Fairmount Cemetery.

About this time, reformists started attempting to clean up Denver, making the cribs less popular and the fashionable houses more popular than ever. The Denver Red Book was published, a guide to all the houses of pleasure. The ads were tame, claiming number of rooms, what other facilities might be offered at said establishment – pool tables, a ballroom, a bar, meals, entertainment – and of course, the number of “boarders” available in each establishment. The Red Book was not cheap to advertise in, so only those establishments that were doing well in the first place found their way into this pleasure guide. The finest houses – with the highest fees, of course- sent out engraved invitations to the prominent gentlemen of the state of Colorado. Mattie’s own invitations were said to have been gold rimmed, printed on heavy tag board and appearing to be the classiest of classy invites. These invites, if mailed to the homes of these prominent gentlemen rather than to their businesses, could easily create quite a ruckus in the home, and perhaps even several divorces.

Jennie Rogers, grieving and in ill health due to having Brights Disease, in 1902, she leased her houses out to other madames and moved to Chicago. Doctors had ordered at least seven months of bed rest of her, but Jenie refused, buying a large house and getting right back into business; her famed emerald earrings were sold to fund the endeavor. She met, was wooed, and married Archie T. Fitzgerald, a Chicago based politician April 26th, 1904. Fitzgerald, however, was somewhat of a cad; he encouraged her to spend large amounts of money on frivolities and vacations, and six months after they married she found that he was a bigamist as well, with a wife in Kansas City, Missouri and one just the other side of town. Jennie returned to Denver in 1907, taking up management of her house on 1942 Market Street again. Although she considered divorcing him many times, she never did, and his copious spending drove her to the brink of bankruptcy in 1908. Jennie’s illness got the better of her again, and on October 17th, 1909 Jennie died, and her “House of Mirrors” property was bought by Mattie Silks.

Jennie’s funeral was attended by many of her old friends, employees, fellow madames and even society members – the noticeable absence of Fitzgerald was marked by all. Jennie’s body was returned to Denver and she too was buried in Fairmount cemetery next to John Wood. Her tombstone reads her real name – Leah. J. Wood. Jennie was 66 years old.

Jennie returned to Denver and got more deeply involved in her business, expanding her holdings and investments to legal assets, buying land in the northern part of Denver along 16th and 19th streets, land near Sloans Lake and buying several shares in an irrigation and reservoir project in Logan County. Jennie was now 45. IN 1889, she heard that Wood was now running a saloon in Omaha, Nebraska. She wrote him a letter, he wrote back, and so their correspondence began, and August 13th, 1889, they married. Jennie and John were married for eight years when he died, devastating Jennie, who had him buried in Fairmount Cemetery.

About this time, reformists started attempting to clean up Denver, making the cribs less popular and the fashionable houses more popular than ever. The Denver Red Book was published, a guide to all the houses of pleasure. The ads were tame, claiming number of rooms, what other facilities might be offered at said establishment – pool tables, a ballroom, a bar, meals, entertainment – and of course, the number of “boarders” available in each establishment. The Red Book was not cheap to advertise in, so only those establishments that were doing well in the first place found their way into this pleasure guide. The finest houses – with the highest fees, of course- sent out engraved invitations to the prominent gentlemen of the state of Colorado. Mattie’s own invitations were said to have been gold rimmed, printed on heavy tag board and appearing to be the classiest of classy invites. These invites, if mailed to the homes of these prominent gentlemen rather than to their businesses, could easily create quite a ruckus in the home, and perhaps even several divorces.

Jennie Rogers, grieving and in ill health due to having Brights Disease, in 1902, she leased her houses out to other madames and moved to Chicago. Doctors had ordered at least seven months of bed rest of her, but Jenie refused, buying a large house and getting right back into business; her famed emerald earrings were sold to fund the endeavor. She met, was wooed, and married Archie T. Fitzgerald, a Chicago based politician April 26th, 1904. Fitzgerald, however, was somewhat of a cad; he encouraged her to spend large amounts of money on frivolities and vacations, and six months after they married she found that he was a bigamist as well, with a wife in Kansas City, Missouri and one just the other side of town. Jennie returned to Denver in 1907, taking up management of her house on 1942 Market Street again. Although she considered divorcing him many times, she never did, and his copious spending drove her to the brink of bankruptcy in 1908. Jennie’s illness got the better of her again, and on October 17th, 1909 Jennie died, and her “House of Mirrors” property was bought by Mattie Silks.

Jennie’s funeral was attended by many of her old friends, employees, fellow madames and even society members – the noticeable absence of Fitzgerald was marked by all. Jennie’s body was returned to Denver and she too was buried in Fairmount cemetery next to John Wood. Her tombstone reads her real name – Leah. J. Wood. Jennie was 66 years old.

Continued in "Ladies of Denver: Jenny Rogers and Mattie Silks - Part Seven"


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