Kate Elder was a working girl. Throughout most of her young life, she was employed as a soiled dove—a woman of ill fame, a sporting gal, a prostitute. It was Kate’s relationship with John Henry (Doc) Holliday that brought her notoriety and lifted her out of the role of a mere courtesan to that of common-law wife to the well-known gambler, gunfighter and dentist.
Kate’s story of her life on the frontier as a soiled dove and her time with one of the West’s most recognizable characters has value. She was in her eighties when she dared to recall all that had transpired since she’d left Hungary, where she was born, up to the events preceding the historic gunfight near the O.K. Corral. Kate claims to have witnessed the famous gun battle in October 1881. What she said happened between her and Doc leading up to the incident, and what transpired afterward with outlaw John Ringo, adds another controversial layer to the historic event.
It was a chilly evening in mid-March 1881. Kate had traveled from Globe, Arizona, where she had a business, to Tombstone to see Doc. According to her, she made the trip at his request. Doc had taken up residence on Sixth Street in a small boardinghouse positioned between a funeral parlor and a winery.
Kate said that a holdup, in which driver Bud Philpot and a passenger were killed, occurred during her visit to Tombstone. One of the four suspects in the stage robbery and the double killing was William Leo