Big Nose Kate
Mary Katherine Horony (her last name is recorded in a multitude of different spellings) was born in Hungary in 1850 and emigrated to the United States in 1860. An apocryphal tale describes her father as appointed physician to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. Kate grew up in Davenport, Iowa running away at the age of 16 to St. Louis.
By 1869 she was working as a prostitute for a madam named Blanche Tribole there, five years later records show that she was in a brothel in Dodge City, Kansas where she was employed by Nellie Earp, wife of James Earp, a saloon keeper and older brother of Wyatt. Sometime in 1876, she moved to Texas where the following year she met John Henry “Doc” Holliday.
With Wyatt Earp in tow, Kate and Doc moved to Dodge City where Doc opened a dental practice to support his gambling and drinking proclivities. Kate and Doc were known to fight frequently and violently. Eventually, the Holliday’s (Kate claimed they had been married in Valdosta, Georgia although there is little evidence to support this) settled in Prescott, Arizona where Kate continued to work as a prostitute while her “husband” gambled. When the Earps went to Tombstone Doc went along, and Kate rejoined him there. Kate was persuaded by enemies of the Earps to sign an affidavit which implicated Doc in a robbery but the Earps countered by presenting evidence which cleared Holliday, who then sent Kate away on a stage, though she later returned.
After Doc Holliday died in 1887 from tuberculosis Kate married an Irish blacksmith named George Cummings. They traveled through several mining camps where she continued to work as a prostitute and occasionally as a baker. After Cummings committed suicide in 1915 Kate eventually settled into the Arizona Pioneers’ Home, established by the state in 1910 for the destitute.
It took the intervention of the governor, an old friend named George Hunt, to allow her to enter the home as she had never become an American citizen. She resided there until her death in 1940, less than a week before she would have become 90 years of age. She was buried there under the name Mary K. Cummings.