The controversy surrounding the actions of Ellen Watson and how she got her name “Cattle Kate” is pretty wild. Watson dealt with a string of hardships throughout her life, such as poverty, an abusive ex-husband, and a life of hard work and struggle.
Stagecoach Mary was a force to be reckoned with. Standing six-feet tall, with a pistol under her garment and a cigar in her mouth, she may not resemble the average mail carrier we see today. Mary Fields was not only the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier for the US but was also the second woman ever to work for the federal Post Office.
Ruth Scantlin Roach was a renowned bronc rider and world champion rodeo performer who was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1989 and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. She made a living by traveling the world with her rodeo act and even toured with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.
Lucille Mulhall was known as the Rodeo Queen, Queen of the Western Prairie, and Queen of the Saddle, and for good reason. She was one of the first women to compete alongside men in rodeo events such as roping and riding. She performed and starred in the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show, one of the most infamous rodeo groups during those times.
History is full of trailblazing women who have inspired generations to do great things. The women who lived during the days of the Wild West had even more of a reason to stand out and become legends. Times were hard; poverty, dangerous natives, and overall climate were just a few things that settlers had to endure. It was during these days that numerous women made history. These women were involved with keeping the peace, delivering mail, entertaining audiences through sharpshooting or rodeo performing, and accompanying military operations. Some of them are heroes of bravery, some possessed jaw-dropping talent, but all of them helped shape our nation. Here we take a look at ten of the most noteworthy women who strived to do things differently than other women during the Wild West days.
Do cowboys make great singers? Not all the time, but it sure helped. When all the other cowboys were settling down for a good night’s rest, two men were assigned the task of circling the camp and singing songs. They were known to trade off on who was singing based on song verses. This was to help calm the cattle down and relieve tension for skittish stock.
People always seem to ask about cowboys, “What’s with the hat?” Well, if you spent as much time on the trail out in the blazing sun as these boys, you’d have a good idea. A hat with a wide rim (usually a Stetson) was worn to protect the cowboys from the unforgiving sun, and also kept the glare away so that a cowboy’s vision of the cattle was not hindered.
How would you feel if someone called you a “belly cheater” or “bean master?” Confused? Well If you grew up during the wild west days, these would be considered titles of much respect and importance. These were common expressions used for cooks (or “cookies”) on the campsite for cowboys; a job considered to be most valuable and well-respected. Three hot and hearty meals a day kept these cowboys at their best.
It’s not an easy task to move thousands of cattle, across hundreds of miles, without the stock losing weight or arriving sickly looking. Typically, 10 cowboys were able to move 3,000 head on each drive and travel 15 miles a day. Traveling more than that distance would increase the risk of the cattle looking too skinny when they arrived.
Where did these cowboys come from? Many of them were actually soldiers who had returned in one piece from the Civil War, looking for gainful employment. Soldiers from the North and the South saddled up to help with the expansion of the West. Historians have estimated that 25% of these cowboys were freed slaves.