Since her untimely death in 1889, Ellen Liddy Watson, dubbed Cattle Kate by local papers of the time, has been tangled in a web of rumors, mystery and all-out lies.
Considered an outlaw by most accounts, Watson and her husband were brutally hung by vigilante neighbors near their Wyoming homestead on the grounds of cattle rustling.
Albert Bothwell, the ringleader responsible for their unjust murders, was acquitted of his crime following a wave of mysterious deaths and disappearances of all known witnesses. His deep pockets helped sway local papers, who painted the couple as swindlers and thieves. This description sadly lasted well into the twentieth century.
Perhaps the most frustrating element of the story is how honest, vigorous and strong the real Cattle Kate was. A frontiers-woman who made her way homesteading across the Midwest, Watson built herself into a successful entrepreneur and cattle woman on her own dime. Her unavenged execution stands as a reminder that not all bad guys â€œget itâ€ in the end, and that evil can–and will–go unpunished.
“Witnesses were murdered or disappeared mysteriously or were bought off. The three Cheyenne papers, dominated by incredibly wealthy cattle interests, trumped up the ridiculous stories everyone knows today about Ellen being a dirty whore and rustler, and Jim her accomplice, pimp and murderous paramour.”
– George W. Hufsmith in The Wyoming Lynching of Cattle Kate,1889
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