With the addition of Dame Shirley there appear to be only four women in the whole of the Rich Bar mining camp at the end of 1851. One, the 25-year-old hostess of the Empire House, was apparently permanently tanned dark by her trip west across the plains. When she set out for California she left behind a nursing baby eight months old along with two other children, and at the time of Shirley’s arrival she had a brand new two-week-old infant. Since she spent most of her time cooking and tending to the guests of the hotel, the baby lay alone in a champagne basket cradle and kicked furiously while screaming with all the power of a six-month-old.
Another of the women was known as the Indiana Girl because of her father’s hotel where she worked, although to call her a girl may have been a stretch due to her enormous size. Shirley noted how the roll of the Indiana Girl’s mighty voice, booming through two doors and a long entryway, added considerably to a headache she suffered from at the time. The girl wore the thickest of miner’s boots and had the habit of wiping the dishes of the Indiana house on her apron. Still, the miner’s said she had “metal to the backbone” because when she’d come to Rich Bar the previous spring she’d walked all the way through snow five feet deep carrying a fifty pound sack of flour on her back.
The last of the female population of this rustic mining camp was as small as Indiana Girl was large, weighing in at only 68 pounds. And although she had three children that Shirley called pretty, she worked as the bartender at a little log cabin near the entrance to town called the Miner’s House while her husband was away tending to other unknown duties. Shirley quickly realized that her prospects for an active social relationship with the women of Rich Bar were not very good.