The first issue, historically, with the mistress myth, is that it changes over time, indicating that myth-building is actively changing the story to make it more dramatic. The first accounts of the tale told in the 1980’s state, “Another legend is that a mistress was so distraught that she could not have her lover killed herself in the Baker. You can smell her perfume of lavender at night in the hall where she killed herself. Another lady jumped out of the bell tower to her death.”
However, by the late 1990s, the myth has changed to; “Distraught from her affair, she jumped to her death from the top of the building. The room she stayed in, quite comfortably, was a suite on the southeast corner of the seventh floor” This raises several questions. Did Earl Baker really have a mistress? Was there a woman named Virginia Brown living at the hotel who committed suicide?
The answer to the first question is hard to determine. To answer that you would need to know what years the mistress was living in the Baker Hotel. However, historical research into that question has dug up some rather interesting facts.
The first was that the concept of Earl Baker having a mistress originates among the staff working at the hotel. They know that a woman is living there free of charge in a suite of rooms on the seventh floor. They are also aware that Earl gives this woman money regularly. If this is the basis of the story, then there is an alternative explanation. Myla Baker, T.B.’s sister, lived at the Gunter in San Antonio.
On May 8, 1933, she moved to the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. She occupied a suite on the seventh floor using rooms 714, 716, and 718. These are the same rooms where the “mistress” was supposed to have occupied. Myla would take trips alone to Europe and buy items to decorate the different hotels.
When T.B. gave the Baker hotel to Earl, he had Earl agree to make up a trust for his sister, Myla, agreeing to pay her $9,000 a year from the dividends of the Gunter Hotel. Myla stayed at the hotel until she died in 1950, thus ruling out the possibility of a mistress living in those rooms during those years.
In 1950 Earl would have been 75 years old and was then living in San Antonio. These facts do not make the mistress story very probable. So what about Virginia Brown? Historical records show that three women were living in Mineral Wells under that name. None of them were residing at the Baker Hotel. In the 1940s, a Virginia Brown was living on Mistletoe Street. She was widowed and was 57 years old. The other two women with that name were married and living with their husbands in the 1930s. Despite this, there is no documentation of any sort of event related to suicide, or anything similar, ever happening at the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. However, there were such events at the Baker Hotel in downtown Dallas.