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December 4, by Maggie McNeill. As Thaddeus Russell explains in A Renegade History of the United States , the reason so many western states gave women the right to vote long before the eastern ones or the country in general had absolutely nothing to do with high-minded egalitarianism and everything to do with pragmatism and arse-kissing. Accordingly, frontier towns fill up with lonely young men desperate for female company and usually possessed of money drawn from whatever industry the town is built on whether that be mining, trapping, trade or whatever.
Naturally, whores arrive to capitalize on this and so the minority of frontier populations which are female are usually made up largely of working girls.
These ladies soon amass a disproportionate share of the wealth, and madams tend to become fabulously wealthy; in order to win their favor the better to secure donations and investment in civic projects , city fathers all over the western US granted them suffrage. Enter Dorothea Georgine Emile Ohben of Germany, a not-especially-beautiful year-old whore gifted with charm, a gift for persuasion and business savvy.
She approached a banker named Jacob Furth, and with his help convinced a number of local businessmen to invest in a truly world-class brothel staffed with beautiful, charming, educated women. Though the building she purchased at the corner of Third and Washington burned down in the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, , she had already made enough money in her first year of business to rebuild immediately in stone; it was, in fact, the first building to re-open after the fire.
None of this is controversial, but the end of her life and its aftermath is another matter. Less than two months later she was dead, of causes that have never been adequately explained. Her obituary listed the cause as a perforated ulcer, possibly aggravated due to nerves brought on by her repeated harassment. Another odd point is that she appears to have died intestate, surely an unlikelihood for a woman so careful with business matters; the Seattle Times reported that there had been a will, but that it was torn to shreds during a violent argument between Lou and Amber Delmas the night before Lou died.