Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District

By James Pylant and Sherri Knight. Softbound (2011), 380 pp., indexed, illustrated.

They Painted the Town Scarlet Red!

From 1869 to 1918 more than 1,200 women lived as prostitutes in Waco, Texas—once known as "Six-Shooter Junction." When the city legalized its red light district, floozies flocked to Waco, where saloons and bordellos flourished.

The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District examines the city's complex stance on prostitution, debunks myths, and unveils—for the first time—the true identities of several early madams.

Authors James Pylant and Sherri Knight tell shocking true stories about several of these colorful characters, including:

  • Matilda W. Davis, the first fully licensed madam
  • Cora McMahan, who shot her mouth off until someone shot off her mouth.
  • John and Mary Doud, a pimp and madam who trained their fourteen-year-old niece to run a brothel
  • Mollie Adams, Waco's most successful madam
  • Josie Tumlin, a boisterous harlot who had stints in both prison and an insane asylum
  • Jessie Williams, the infamous "Chicken Ranch" madam

The Oldest Profession in Texas also tells the story of preacher J. T. Upchurch's crusade to reform prostitutes and abolish their profession.

Order online from:

Also available from these Texas bookstores:

  • Book People, Austin
  • Hastings, Brownwood
  • Comanche Chief, Comanche
  • The Three Sisters, Dublin
  • Hastings, Killeen
  • The Book Satchell, Mineral Wells
  • Hastings, Stephenville
  • Stephenville Museum, Stephenville
  • Hastings, Waco
  • Texas Ranger Museum Gift Shop, Waco
  • University Book Store at Baylor, Waco
  • Waco Visitors' Center, Waco