Madame Moustache

Madam Moustache

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Madame Moustache, or Eleanor Dumont, was an accomplished female card player and notorious gambler. For three decades they knew her around the mining camps in the California Gold Rush. A petite, elegant and pretty French woman, originally known as Simone Jules. Dumont was an astute businesswoman, but she shocked the natives.

First Professional BlackJack Player

Eleanor Dumont arrived in a rough-and-ready mining camp, dressed in jewels and finery. In a male-dominated world, she took the place by storm.

Dumont was the first professional blackjack player in the American Wild West. She was renowned for her poise and ability to handle the high stress of the card table.

Best Gambling Emporium

The 20-year-old brunette commandeered shops that had gone out of business and opened ‘the best gambling emporium in north California’. Dumont invited local citizens to the grand opening, and champagne flowed.

The emporium shocked the miners. It was a world of carpets, gas chandeliers, appealing music and exotic paintings. Far removed from the harsh reality of everyday life in the mining town.

Only The Well-Behaved

Well-behaved and well-groomed men were welcome. The women were not only forbidden, but not allowed to loiter outside. It didn’t matter if it was a wife looking for an errant husband.

Madame Moustache discouraged any form of cursing in her presence. The men respected Dumont, but the few miner’s wives, who lived in the rough camp, did not look at her favourably.

Madame Moustache A Knockout

Dupont didn’t earn her nickname, Madame Moustache, until her fame was more widespread. She was a witty, charming, and vivacious hostess. As she moved among the patrons, she had a winning way with trouble makers.

Eleanor Dumont was irresistible. A beautiful woman with sparkling eyes, a winning smile and low-cut gowns. A woman card dealer was a novelty. She could charm her patrons, but kept unwanted attention-grabbers at bay, through her astounding aloofness.

Dumont enjoyed drinking champagne with her patrons and rolled her own cigarettes. She was reputed as being a fair dealer.

Madame Moustache Softened Losing

The miners lost more of their hard-earned cash than they won. Dumont would offer the loser a free glass of champagne. A bitter-sweet compensation.

She moved to a bigger establishment and took on a partner. David Tobin was a professional New York gambler. She refused to give him a higher share of the prophets, so he packed up and returned to New York.


Taking a break from gambling, Dumont purchased a ranch in Nevada. There she met a conman, Jack McKnight. Sweeping Dumont off her feet, he fleeced her dry in just one month. He left her with the outstanding debts, taking all her money and selling her ranch.

Dumont was not a woman to be crossed. She tracked him down and shot him with the double blast of a shotgun. Although Dumont was a prime suspect, she was never charged.

Nickname Madame Moustache

Dumont returned to gambling in the mining camps. For the next two decades, she moved from camp to camp, as the gold played out. It was a downward spiral for Dupont.

She lost her good looks and an unsightly growth appeared on her top lip. Dumont took to drinking whiskey and aping many of the harsh characteristics of her patrons.

She became madam of a bordello, though still continuing to gamble. Some of her poise and old charm re-exerted itself. However, Dumont was a plump, but well preserved, 40-year-old. She would dress her girls in finery and parade them in the street, seated in a fancy carriage.

Her nickname, Madame Moustache, was not a compliment, but the babblings of a drunken miner. The name stuck, though it was never used to her face.

Down On Her Luck

She borrowed $300 from a friend, to open her table. Lady Luck had left her and in just a few hours she lost the entire bank.

Without saying goodbye, Dumont wandered a mile outside the town. She drank a bottle of claret wine, laced with a lethal dose of morphine. Beside her body there was a letter with instructions for the disposal of her assets. It also read “Tired of life”.

Eleanor Dumont’s way of life may not be the greatest in the world. However, for thirty years, she was a formidable woman and a force to be reckoned with. Determination, coupled with a will to succeed, drove her on.

Sign Of Respect

Her funeral was the largest the town had ever seen. The women from the mining camp attended to her body. Special carriages were brought from a hundred kilometres away for the funeral procession.

Madame Moustache’s voice was unique, even if at times, she exploited it with a lack of wisdom. There was never another Eleanor Dumont. She rose to high heights and sank to dismal lows. Madam Moustache refused to accept women’s limitations. Ano6ther amazing gunslinging woman was Pearl Heart.

Every woman has a unique voice. It’s up to her what she does with it. Elanor Dumont was a clever, sharp-witted business woman. But, she ended up a lonely, sad woman who couldn’t take any more of what life had to offer.

Circumstances and tragedy do not define who you are. Assess your talents and use them wisely. Your voice has unique value in your sphere of influence.

Photo Source: unsplash

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Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life. Contact:

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