I was born in Hanford,
California, in the year 1832. I was sixteen when my family lost their
farm, which the railroad took by eminent domain. I guess that was all
right since it woulda' been hard to sleep with a train passin' right
through the kitchen.
I left Hanford for
Virginia City, Nevada, where I found work as a hurdy-gurdy girl in one
of the many dance halls. Hurdy-gurdy girls dance with customers who
buy drinks (whiskey for them, tea for me… but they don’t know that!).
My, but those miners and teamsters surely did love to dance! And they
tipped well, too.
By the end of each night I was
really tuckered out, but the money I earned made it worth a few aches
and bruised toes. I saved my money and was able to return to
California. On the way there I made my money purse a little
heavier by smilin' purty and cozyin' up to men. It amazes me how
easy it is to separate men and their money.
When I got to California I purchased a small home in a beautiful little town
in the southern part of the state. And now I only dance when I want
to. I still practice liftin' money off of folks. I teamed
up with a couple of other folk who weren't satisfied
with their paychecks and we occasionally rob a bank or a
train. I figgers it's all right because if people
didn't want to be robbed they would be more careful.
Don't you think?
Oh yes, people have asked me how I got the moniker Te-Killya Rose. One
evening a teamster came in the dance hall carrying a bottle of liquor
he had brought all the way from Old Mexico. Well, I fell in love with
that amber elixir and ever since I’ve been known as Te-Killya, since
no one at that time knew how to spell tequila. I also carried a
derringer in case a dancing partner got a little free with his hands.
After all, I wasn’t a “soiled dove”.
Melanie Smith is retired. She has lived in California since she was four. She was born
in Kansas. Her hobbies include reading, looking for authentic old west
clothing, and cross-stitching.
Brandin' Iron Dance and Social Club