trueCOWBOYmagazine Sept/Oct 2014 - Page 58

Big Nose Kate When good girls go bad by Charlene Worthy How did Mary Katherine Hornady, a young Hungarian girl, daughter of an emperor’s physician, of fine breeding and well-rounded education become one of the most notorious madam’s of the 1800’s ending up in Tombstone tossing back shots and raisin’ hell with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday? By her own account Big Nose Kate was a rip-roaring, hard-drinking, gun-slinging bad girl. Her story begins November 5, 1850 in Pest, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her early life was one of ease and privilege. As the daughter of a prominent physician, she was well educated. Mary Katherine learned English, French and Spanish as well as her native Hungarian. In 1862, Dr. Hornady accepted the post of personal physician to Emperor Maximilian, a Hapsburg Archduke. A few years later, things got dicey. Maximilian’s government fell and the Hornady’s fled to Davenport, Iowa, a Hungarian enclave. The Emperor was executed. In March of 1885, Kate’s mother died. Her father followed her to the grave in May, and Kate, her sister, and three brothers were sent to an orphanage. Kate resurfaced in the foster home of Otto Smith. At 17, Kate high tailed it out o