7/28/15

CALL ME MADAM

 
 
 
 
Most of the attention, deserved or not, in the early days of "Hell's Half Acre" went to Madam Annie Wynn Bailey aka "Big Anne" or "Big Annie."  There were lots of competitor's, however, and here is a working list of some of the Madams and Working Girls found to date:
 
In 1896, Daisy Clayton and 6 of her 'inmates' were arrested for disorderly conduct. Madam Daisy was at the "Red Onion" on Hop Blvd.
 
The main Madam who appears to have held sway over the girls and joints on Alabaster Row and just over the city line, east of the Santa Fe tracks on Grand was a woman named Martha Fleming, known to local police and public by the sobriquent, "Old Zulu".  Zulu warriors had been making the news in the 1890's and papers were filled with stories of these exotic, effective and somewhat romantic fighters from Africa engaged in a battle for their freedom.  At 6 feet, with a dynamic and deep voice, and packing a large pistol, Martha more than earned the nickname, especially when she had too much to drink or was using heroin or cocaine.  She and the police seemed to enjoy the notoriety and she often reminded them it took eight police 'bulls' to lock her up one time.  A colorful woman who also served as an early business woman, community organizer, and voting promoter.  She died in about 1914 in Oklahoma City but little beyond her birth in Virginia and her life seen through court records and newspaper accounts is available.
 
Are these there real names?  Sometimes. Like many women in similar lives, they changed names and histories like some changed shoes. A woman might become someone new on leaving one location. Maybe as a way to start fresh, to hide, or pretend.
 
In 1898, a Lillian Day was fined for running a house of prostitution but no location was given.
 
The Vendome, Bunco Alley (24 1/2 W. Grand now Sheridan)  in Hell's Half Acre, was the most elite establishment with Brussels carpets and fine furnishings was run by Ethel,sometimes called Eva, Clopton. They also had a woman there known as "Sportive Lizzie."
 
In about 1890, most of the houses were moving out of "Hell" and going 'uptown' taking over W. 2nd (now Kerr) between Harvey and Hudson Streets. That area was called "Harlot's Lane" and many large houses did enthusiastic business there on both sides of the street: Etta Woods Creole Girls, The Arlington (an elegant established owned by Big Ann but run by Madame McDonald), Nina Truelove's place, a circus atmosphere prevailed at the building shaped like a ship called 'Noah's Ark' run by Big Liz aka Mary Belle Everhardt and sometimes Evans and Big Anne's Place 444 managed for her by Effie Fisher until she died by a mysterious assassin in 1903.
 
In 1905, Jean (Julia) Lamonte, aka Madam Brentlinger was heading the "Red Star" at 431 W. 2nd (now Kerr).  She had come, with Big Anne, on the day of the run in 1889.
 
In 1906, Eva Ryon's house of prostitution was at 28 1/2 W. Grand when she was fined; Irene James was fined for operating a house but no address or name given in police court records. At the same time Naomi Harris, Emma Bryan, Bernice Daniel, and Mary Mangold were fined for working in a bawdy house. That same year, it was recognized that one Ethel Preston was an 'inmate' of the Corn Exchange at 326 W. Grand, when one man shot and killed another over her favors.
 
In 1907, a 'high tone house' was being run in April by a "Mrs. Summers" at Broadway and Washington. The City Directory lists a widow Sara L. (Mrs. John) Summers at 129 W. Washington who may or may not be the same woman.
 
In 1909, the inmates of a house at 31 W. Washington were fined...Mary Johnson, Nell Johnson, and Grace Davis.
 
There was also the Foss House at Washington and Robinson, south of Reno. Many of these streets were eradicated or renamed over time.


--(c) Marilyn A. Hudson, 2015
 

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