What You Didn't Know About Pearl De Vere

Not much is known about the early years of Pearl de Vere's life, but to say she left an indelible mark on the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado during her later years, is an understatement. While some historians place the birth and childhood of de Vere (they agree that's probably not her real name) somewhere between Chicago, Illinois and Evansville, Indiana, around 1862 (via History Naked), no one can say for certain the lady's origins. What is known, however, is that during the Silver Panic of 1893, when the country switched to the gold standard, a woman arrived in Cripple Creek calling herself Mrs. Isabel Martin, but with no Mr. Martin in tow. The soon-to-be Pearl de Vere would turn the boomtown of Cripple Creek, and its good citizens, on their collective heads. (They called it the "Wild West" for a reason.)

According to Naked History, de Vere arrived at Denver, Colorado around the age of 15 circa 1877. With no real means to support herself, de Vere turned to sex work as a way to make money. A beautiful, strong willed redhead (via Legends of America), de Vere made plenty off the rich businessmen of Denver. That is, until the Silver Panic of 1893, when all the new money out west was lost. De Vere took this as a sign of bad things to come, changed her name to Mrs. Isabel Martin, and made her way to Cripple Creek, Colorado. It was here she began a new venture based on her years of sex work: She opened a bordello.

Good times at the Old Homestead

At the age of 31, de Vere bought a small wood frame house (via Legends of America). Her new bordello was an overnight success. De Vere recruited beautiful women for her brothel, enticing them with high pay and regular medical check-ups. Because of the well care she afforded the women that worked for her, de Vere made sure the clientele was up to snuff, as well: De Vere had an application process just to enter the premises (via History Naked). Only gentlemen of a certain caliber were allowed entrance to her brothel; day laborers need not apply.

And while she ran a then-questionable business, de Vere did her best to live a quiet lifestyle, marrying mill owner C. B. Flynn in 1895. The quiet, however, would not last for the couple. A fire rampaged through Flynn's mill, burning it and de Vere's business to the ground. The ensuing aftermath didn't sit well with Flynn, who left de Vere behind in Cripple Creek to follow a job in Mexico. That didn't stop de Vere, however. She built the old business back up, buying a two-story brick building that would affectionately become known as "The Old Homestead" by workers and clientele alike, according to History Naked.

Only the best, for the best

From the start, the reputation of The Old Homestead preceded it. De Vere filled the place not only with the most attractive women she could find, but with all the modern amenities, as well: hardwood floors and electrified lights; not one, but two indoor bathrooms; an intercom system; even a telephone. The parties held at the Old Homestead became legendary, filled with fine food, French champagne, and, of course, sex.

On the evening of June 4, 1897, Pearl de Vere retired early from another extravagant party at the Old Homestead, having drunk way too much. Unable to sleep, de Vere took an over-the-counter medicine to help her doze off: morphine. The next morning, one of de Vere's employees found de Vere unconscious in her room. She was unable to wake the madam. A doctor was called to the scene, but there was nothing he could do. Pearl de Vere died the next day, June 5, 1897. It was discovered shortly after her passing that Pearl died virtually penniless, all of her money spent on lavish parties. Only a generous donation from an anonymous philanthropist allowed Pearl de Vere to be buried at all.