Prostitution Was Once Legal In El Paso, But Should It Be Again?
If El Paso history remained the same there would be more jobs not just for women but men too. Back in the day, 1881 to be exact the railroad came to El Paso and was quite a success. If you didn't know this like me, mining was vital to El Paso's industry. The Mexican culture and labor had shaped El Paso from a frontier town to a border town. Prostitution became a thriving industry in El Paso back in the day.
Prostitution had inspired traveling visitors to make a stop in El Paso just for our fine feminine hospitality. S. Mesa Street was formerly known as Utah street during those times. Utah Street was known for the prostitute's place of business then. It was where the brothels and "cribs" were stationed at. The "cribs" was for the women who didn't work in the finer fancier houses. So instead they would set up shop in individual rooms to make their money.
The Madams of El Paso was known as the "Big 5" while some were famous and infamous. These Madams were successful and beneficial to the El Paso society.
Of “the Big 5,” 3 are buried in El Paso’s Evergreen Cemetery, “Big” Alice Abbott, Tillie Howard, and May Palmer. Up until recently, only Tillie’s whereabouts were known. Recently during the first Evergreen Cemetery Historic Tour, Local historian Fred Morales announced that they have at long last located the final resting place of May Palmer.
Mary Elizabeth Eisenmenger was born in 1867 in Chicago. After running other successful brothels, arrived in El Paso in 1901 and bought an empty building at 309 S. Utah St. It became Madame Palmer's Gentlemen's Club. In 1908, Palmer married James Harlan "Pete" Adams, a very desirable bachelor within “proper society.” She left the business in 1910. In 1915, Palmer was diagnosed with pancreatic and pelvic cancer. She died on March 24, 1918, in Hot Springs, Arkansas at age 51.
In Section-L, not all that far from grave of Tillie Weiler (a.k.a. Howard), to the right and up a few rows rests Mary. There is no headstone, but there is a flag noting her burial place. Only the location of Alice Abbot, also buried somewhere in Evergreen, remains a “Big-5” El Paso mystery.
Since prostitution was a remarkable part of El Paso's history, should it be legalized again? It sure did bring in business and could open up more jobs for women and men now and days. Everyone loves sex! So imagine doing something you also get satisdaction out of? Be sure to take the poll on whether you believe prostitution should be brought back!