The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District

Product 236230



By James Pylant and Sherri Knight. Softbound (2011), 380 pp., illustrated.


From 1869 to 1918 more than 1,200 women lived as prostitutes in Waco, Texas—once known as "Six-Shooter Junction." When the city legalized its red light district, floozies flocked to Waco, where saloons and bordellos flourished.

The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco's Legal Red Light District examines the city's complex stance on prostitution, debunks myths, and unveils—for the first time—the true identities of several early madams.

Authors James Pylant and Sherri Knight tell shocking true stories about several of these colorful characters, including:

  • Matilda W. Davis, the first fully licensed madam
  • Cora McMahan, who shot her mouth off until someone shot off her mouth.
  • John and Mary Doud, a pimp and madam who trained their fourteen-year-old niece to run a brothel
  • Mollie Adams, Waco's most successful madam
  • Josie Tumlin, a boisterous harlot who had stints in both prison and an insane asylum
  • Jessie Williams, the infamous "Chicken Ranch" madam



"Perhaps one of the most thorough studies of frontier dens of sin ever compiled."

           —Ross McSwaim, San Angelo Standard-Times


"highly readable . . . page turning chapters . . . worthy of your most wanted reading list."

           —Mike Cox, Austin Statesman


"excellent stories . . ."

           —Jerry Turner, Hubbard City News





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