Gambler's Wife


Gambler's Wife

The Life of Malinda Jenkins

Malinda Jenkins

296 pages


April 1998


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Malinda Jenkins was born in 1848, the daughter of a subsistence farmer in Kentucky. Showing spunk early, she pridefully refused to attend school without the right textbooks and escaped as soon as possible from a large family that had “too much religion” and too little else.

She liked men and married three: a handsome lazybones, a kindly drunkard, and a chronic gambler. Malinda left her first husband in order to support herself and the children. Uneducated but willing to work hard and take risks, she established a boarding house in Texas, the first of many enterprises that would gradually bring financial independence.

With her third husband, Jenkins, the professional gambler, she bounced all over the West, from Wichita Falls to Oregon City to Tacoma to a lumber camp in Washington. She operated a beauty parlor in San Francisco and more boarding houses while Jenkins prospected for gold in Alaska, and in 1897 she crossed the Chilkoot Pass and joined him in Dawson, where they ran the Sour Dough Saloon. Later on they owned a racing stable.

When writer Jesse Lilienthal met her in 1930, Malinda was a widow in her eighties who spent every afternoon at the racetrack. Here is her lively story, told to Lilienthal and long out of print until now.

Author Bio

Paula Mitchell Marks is the author of And Die in the West: The Story of the O.K. Corral Gunfight and Precious Dust: The Saga of the Western Gold Rushes. She teaches history at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

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