I recently took a trip to Wyoming as many reading this blog may know. While there, I picked up an old book that belonged to my grandfather. Calamity Jane and the Lady Wildcats by Duncan Aikman. For those not familiar, it centers on the stories of strong, infamous, female personalities during the days of the Old, Wild West. The book may be sensationalized and a bit dated, but is a fun read. It was originally published in 1927. The book also features the likes of Belle Starr, Lola Montez, Cattle Kate and Madame Moustache. Life was hard for these ladies in varying degrees and ended up on a tragic note in most instances. Reading their stories, and being in a town where some of these ladies passed through really got my imagination going. Not to mention that a lot of these women are part of Texas history as well. (I was born in Wyoming and grew up in Texas.) Though I may have lived in cities most of my life, I still feel a connection to this past. I have always had a penchant for rogue, female characters and learning their stories has been enriching.
My grandfather told me a story about Calamity Jane that he heard from an “old-timer” when he was a kid living in a gold-mining town on it’s very last leg. Calamity had a gold bracelet that went missing. She raised quite a ruckus shooting things up! It turns out a rat stole it. The bracelet was found years later in a rat’s nest.
A card dealer, with dark and beautiful features who grew a moustache in her later years thus her name. Those who knew her said the moustache did not lessen her beauty and that she remained youthful into her 40s before meeting her tragic end.
Cattle Kate was business woman who was succeeding and that didn’t bide well with some of the men around her. This resulted in the wrongful hanging of her and her companion James Averell.
Belle Starr was a stylish, side saddle riding, Bandit Queen who had a penchant for men who didn’t follow the law.