Wild West Women | Mrs Bad Gun, Stagecoach Mary, Calamity Jane, Madame Mustache, & Big Nose Kate

Women living in the Old West were tough, unique, creative, and fighters. They had to be.

I’ve been researching some old west photos, and doing so has reminded me just how convenient our world is versus past generations. When you think about the men and women living in the Old Wild West days and how they endured countless tragedies, famine, hardships, disease, drought, slow travel, gunfights, battles, and more… it makes you appreciate our comforts of today.

Some Wild West women are famous because they were prostitutes with un-lady like behaviors. Or they were labeled bad girls because they fought or killed men. But lets just keep in mind that life in the old west was quickly changing, and it was very harsh for women who had make a living with limited opportunities. We will never fully understand their circumstances, even if we try to put ourselves in their shoes.

Their lives and their world, was incredibly different from today’s world.

This makes me wonder how many other fabulous stories there are of women who did something legendary, and yet their incredible stories have been lost and forgotten through the generations.

So here’s a couple stories of WOMEN OF THE WILD WEST who faced fears or bad situations. They worked hard, took care of others, started their own businesses, endured abuse, were taken advantage of, yet were brave enough to take a stance for what they believed in. They did things with true grit...

Cheyenne, late 1800’s

Mrs Bad Gun 1879 photo by L.A.Huffman / Public Domain

Her name alone, MRS BAD GUN, is astonishing!

The hand written note on the back of her 1879 photograph by Huffman states that she was a Cheyenne Squaw with an old Winchester Rifle. She went after and killed the 4 Indian men who had murdered her husband.
She was later acquitted of their murders.
{Note: Still looking for facts on this woman’s story}

aka STAGECOACH MARY (1832 -1914)

A very tough and well respected women, Mary Fields was born into slavery in 1832 in Hickman County Tennessee on a farm owned by a Judge Edward Dunne. After the Civil War ended in 1865 Mary was freed and she worked along the Mississippi River. Never married and with no children, in 1870 she was a chambermaid on the Robert E Lee steamboat in Toledo Ohio when it won a famous race against the Natchez Steamboat.

She then worked as a groundskeeper at the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart in Toledo Ohio with her friend and Nun Sarah “Dolly” Dunne (possibly Judge Dunne’s daughter), aka Mother Superior Mary Amadeus Dunne. Mary was a hard working woman, but others complained about her foul temper, saying “God help anyone who walked on the lawn after Mary had cut it.”

In 1884 the Bishop sent Dolly to Montana and she asked Mary to go with her. Dolly was starting a Ursuline convent and assisting the Jesuit priests children’s boarding school for the Piegan Blackfeet tribe.

In 1885, Mary wanted to stay in Toledo but she heard that Dolly had gotten ill with pneumonia, so she hastily traversed the 1600+ mile trip alone to Montana, to help nurse her friend back to health.
She would stay in Montana for the rest of her life, and the nuns were like her family.

Mary was the first black person to live in the St Peters / Cascade area and this unknown outsider soon became the forewoman at St Peters Mission. The mission was in disrepair and she tackled all jobs including fetching supplies, hauling freight, repairs, and new construction… all hard labor.

A male worker apparently disliked the 6 ft tall stocky woman and he started arguments and complaints against her. He learned that she was getting paid $2 more a month than he was. Some stories say she waited until the next day, snuck up on him, shot, & killed the man. Others say he was only shot in the rear by one of her bullets that had bounced off a rock wall, and he ran off. Bullets were flying and she defended herself against the angry man.

She didn’t mind getting into fights. According to the Great Falls Examiner newspaper, Mary “broke more noses than any other person in central Montana”. Some say she punched over 400 men! The locals learned not to mess with the strong willed, powerful, cigar smoking, woman.

Mary Fields on far right.

She hauled freight for the mission, often battling nasty storms and freezing temperatures. One day her wagon overturned along the trail. Mary stayed up all night keeping a fire and shooting at a pack of wolves to protect the precious food cargo that the nuns and children desperately needed.

On another trip, a snow blizzard wiped out visibility and the road was lost. She had to walk all night long so she wouldn’t freeze to death.

Life in the nunnery was usually calm, except for her hot temperament, habitual profanity, and confrontations with men. In 1894, about 10 years after her arrival, the bishop finally banned Mary from the convent that she helped build. The nun’s desperately wanted her to stay, but they had to obey the bishop.

With the nun’s help, she moved to nearby Cascade to earn a living by opening a small restaurant. Mary showed kind hearted compassion to other poverty stricken locals. She was known to have fed sheepherders during the winter, even though they couldn’t afford to pay for their meals until they sold stock the next summer. Due to lack of funds, Mary was forced to close down her restaurant.

In 1895 when Mary was 62 years old, Mother Amadeus’s told her about a new job as a Star Route Mail Carrier. She applied, and they were impressed with her ability to hitch a team of six horses faster than the other male applicants half her age. They hired her and Mary became the first African-American woman, and second female, star route mail carrier to work for the US Postal Service. Mother Amadeus gifted Mary a buckboard wagon and she was assigned the St Peters route so she could see the nuns daily. As an independent contractor, she faithfully delivered important legal documents, mail, children, and freight in all types of Montana weather and hazardous conditions. She was very well known for her iron guns, iron fists, delivery speed, and reliability. Even at her older age she never missed a day.

Montana was a very tough place for women to live and work in the late 1800’s, but Mary faced all challenges head-on, and fought off armed bandits. If the snow was too deep for her horses, she would put her snowshoes on, throw the mail sacks over her shoulders, and deliver the mail by walking the route.

She became a Wild West legend in her own time, respectfully known as “Black Mary” or “Stagecoach Mary”. Mary retired from the star route mail carrier services in 1903 at the age of 71, and she opened a laundry service out of her home in Cascade.

A Montana celebrity, she was so well respected that each year the Cascade schools closed to celebrate her birthday. She didn’t actually know her real birth date, so she made one up, and sometimes it was twice a year!

One day while at the saloon drinking some whiskey, she noticed one of her laundry customers – who had ordered extra starch yet failed to pay his $2 bill – was outside walking down the street. She caught up to him and with one strong punch, knocked him down flat – and she was in her 70’s! She told her drinking friends that the satisfaction she got from hitting him was worth more than the bill he owed, so the score was settled.

When Montana passed a law forbidding women to enter saloons, the local Mayor gave Mary an exemption and she spent hours discussing politics and sports with the men in saloons.

The locals invited Mary to become the mascot for Cascade’s local baseball team, and she traveled with the team to events. She would create floral bouquets for the team members using her own garden flowers, yet she could also agressively punch any man in his face if he said anything bad about her team!

Mary Fields as Mascot on Cascade Montana Baseball team.

The famous western artist C.M. Russell also lived in Cascade and respected Stagecoach Mary. In 1897 Charlie made a pen-and-ink sketch drawing titled “A Quiet Day in Cascade” which features Mary in the foreground being hit by a hog and spilling her basket. Mary wasn’t too impressed with how he had portrayed her, but the artwork hung in the local bank for many years.

In 1912 when she was about 80 years old, her house burned down and the locals came to her aid and rebuilt it. Meanwhile, she was given a free room and free meals at the local hotel and was welcome to stay there for as long as she wanted.

Stagecoach Mary continued to run her laundry business, and babysit many Cascade children.

In 1914 Stagecoach Mary became ill and died at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls. Her funeral was one of the largest the area had ever seen. She was buried in the Hillside Cemetary in Cascade Montana, situated along her legendary mail route.


Calamity Jane

A legend, celebrity, teamster, sharpshooter, story-telling, tobacco-spitting, beer & whiskey-drinking, foul mouth, self-promoter, army ‘scout’, adventurer, possible prostitute, care-taker, and mom, Calamity Jane was one of the most famous women of the wild west. She did many things, but she is widely remembered for wearing buckskin – mens style clothing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows. Calamity Jane lived a determined life in her short 51 years in the Old West.

Born on a small farm in Missouri, her father was a known gambler and some say her mother drank. In debt, her father sold their farm to move away from their debt burdens. Like many others at that time period they were chasing the American dream and hoping for a better life in the gold fields of the Wild West.

This trip would forever change the young impressionable girl, as Martha discovered a new love of exploring the adventurous wild west.

Sadly, her mother tragically died along the trail from pneumonia. Martha, the eldest of six children, became known on the wagon train as being very handy. She helped her father with tending the horses, hunting for meat, & daily chores. From Montana, her father moved them to Salt Lake City Utah, possibly to get help from the Mormon Community. He managed to get them on a small farm, but unfortunately he also tragically died within a year.

Orphaned at the tender age of around 14, Martha had to instantly become the head of household in a strange territory. She did what she had to do to support herself and her five younger siblings.

By 1868/69 she moved herself back to Wyoming leaving behind at least two siblings in adopted homes – possibly with Mormon families.

Martha took whatever jobs she could get. She was known to be a dishwasher, cook, waitress, dance hall girl, nurse, and ox team driver. She drifted from town to town announcing to the men that she was a driver for hire. Some of these towns may have been the infamous railroad tent cities which were very deadly and hazardous, especially for a young teenage girl. Soon, word had gotten out in the Wyoming Territory about this rowdy outdoorswoman who lived, dressed, drank, cussed, and acted like a man. She was living a very unproper lady lifestyle.

Martha claimed that she was a Scout for the Army troops, and she saved Captain Egan’s life in 1873 while he and his men were being pursued by Native American Indians. He had been shot and was starting to fall off his horse. Seeing this, Martha ran her horse up to his, transferred him to her own horse, and got them both back to the safety of the fort. Its unknown if this actually happened as she stated, but by 1875 she was in her early 20’s and was being called Calamity Jane and Heroine of the Plains throughout the area.

After gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota an expedition with General George Crook’s men was being formed out of Ft Laramie, Wyoming. She asked if she could go – but was denied. But behold, out on the trail, an unknown “private” was seen trailing alone behind the large excursion, and was identified as Calamity Jane! She worked with the teamsters and made a good impression with the majority of the men. According to the Chicago Tribune dated June 19, 1875, the expedition’s Assistant Surgeon J.R. Lane said, “Calamity is dressed in a suit of soldier’s blue, and straddles a mule equal to any professional blacksnake swinger in the army”. He also noted, “Calamity also jumps upon a trooper’s horse and rides along in the ranks, and gives an officer a military {salute} with as much style as the First Corporal in a crack company.”

Several observers reported her with General Crook as an informal part of the expeditions— and not always sober. One teamster described her as “Dressed in buckskin suit with two Colts six shooters on a belt.” She was the roughest women he had ever seen.

But people hung out with Calamity, as she entertained them with her adventurous stories. She had a real knack for good story-telling.

Arrived at Deadwood SD

After serving as ‘scout’, for Gen George Crook, she was back in Cheyenne WY and in May was arrested for stealing clothes. In June she was found not guilty and released from jail. After her release she borrowed, or rented, a horse and buggy in Cheyenne WY for a quick one hour celebration joy ride to nearby Ft Russell and back. Apparently she was drunk, and passed out alone in the buggy. Eventually she ended up at Ft Laramie, 90 miles away, and was seen celebrating with the soldiers in that bar.

In July 1876 she was reported as being on Colorado Charlie Utter’s 30 wagon, wagon train. Legendary gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok was also on that wagon train. According to stories, the wagon train had stopped near Ft Laramie along its journey, and a Military authority asked them to take some of the rowdy prostitutes along with them. Calamity may have been among them, along with Madam Mustache (Eleanor Dumont was a famous female gambler, see her story below), Dirty Em, and their working girls. Calamity was reported as being drunk, maybe she simply went along to meet and travel with Wild Bill Hickok?

On July 15, 1876 the Black Hills Pioneer newspaper printed the headline: Calamity Jane has arrived.

She had already made a name for herself before her involvement with Wild Bill.

Wild Bill Hickok, perhaps the fastest and deadliest gun in the west, would only live in Deadwood a couple more weeks before he was murdered on August 2, 1876 by Jack McCall. Colorado Charlie Utter, Hickok’s good friend and business partner, claimed Hickok’s body and held the public funeral for the gunfighter.

Its well-known that Calamity claimed to be in love with Wild Bill Hickok. But they would have only been acquainted for only a few short weeks. Its said that she went after his murderer Jack McCall with a meat cleaver, because her guns were at her residence. She wanted to make sure McCall would be executed, which took a lengthy time through the legal court system. Afterward, she continued living in Deadwood for several years.

Its a known fact that during 1878, Deadwood had a smallpox epidemic and she personally nursed and helped care for several men and miners for many long hours, day and night, when others refused being too fearful of contracting the disease themselves. The locals praised Calamity Jane for her heroic deeds. She was certainly brave, and she cared for others!

Calamity claimed that she saved some passengers on an overland stagecoach after the driver, John Slaughter, was shot and killed by Indians, and she overtook the horses’s reins and drove them to its Deadwood destination. Historians say that 25 yr old John Slaughter was indeed killed, but it was by a member of the Sam Bass gang after they attacked the stagecoach about 2.5 miles outside Deadwood. The horses bolted down the road and the outlaws gave up and left. Did Calamity actually stop the run-a-way stagecoach and save the passengers?

It seems that Calamity Jane may have had a couple children but historians are uncertain on the facts, and History tends to change over time. Some say her and Hickok were briefly together. Is it possible they had a daughter together, aka, the McCormick Claim? According to Jean Hickok Burkhardt McCormick, she claimed that Calamity & Wild Bill had ‘married’ in the Montana Territory according to McCormick’s Bible notes and letters, and that she was their child who was given up for adoption. The claim has been challenged.

Around 1881 Calamity Jane was married to Clinton Burke, and she ran an Inn on his ranch.

In the late 1880’s Calamity Jane returned to Deadwood SD with a child whom she said was her daughter. She requested a fundraiser to be held to help support her child’s education and a large sum of money was raised. Calamity got drunk and spent some of that money that night, and she left the next day with her daughter. Later on, it was understood that Calamity’s daughter did get an education, grew up, and married well.

By 1899 she was in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows being introduced as the ‘Famous Woman Scout of the Wild West’ and ‘The Heroine of a Thousand Thrilling Adventures’. But her drinking problem began to interfere with her performances. In 1901, while in New York, Cody released Calamity from the show tours & loaned her money to get back to Deadwood.

In 1903 she was earning her keep by doing the laundry for Madam Dora DuFran’s girls at the Belle Fourche.

Calamity took an ore train to nearby Terry South Dakota but she had been drinking heavily and became ill. The conductor, SG Tillett, carried her off the train and a bartender secured a room for her at the Calloway Hotel. Unfortunately, she died at the hotel on Saturday August 1, 1903 from pneumonia and bowel inflammations. It was the day before Wild Bill’s death Anniversary and she was only 51.

She’s buried near Wild Bill at Mount Moriah Cemetary. Although many have said that Wild Bill had “no use for Jane” while he was alive, they buried her there as per her wishes. She said he was the only man she ever truly loved and the locals thought it would be a posthumous joke on Wild Bill. Her funeral was one of the largest in that area with many people paying their last respects to this legendary woman.

ELEANOR DUMONT (1829-1879)
aka Madame Mustache

Eleanor Dumont was a well known lady gambler, especially during the California Gold Rush days.

Possibly from New Orleans, with a French style accent and proper lady like mannerisms, she showed up in San Francisco in 1849 working the poker games as a dealer.

Around 1854 she opened her own fine gambling establishment, the VINGT-ET-UN (“21”) on Broad Street in Nevada City. She refused to let any unclean men, cussing, nor other women inside her parlor. Admired for her youthful beauty and charm, she was flirty with all the men, yet she was also a private business woman. Serving champagne instead of whiskey, men flocked from all over to view this rarity, who also maintained a big reputation of being honest and dealing fair.

She expanded into a larger business with partner Dave Tobin. They opened DUMONT’S PLACE which was also successful until the gold started to dry up in Nevada City. She sold the gambling palace, left Tobin, and moved away. Traveling much, she was reported to work in other California, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota areas.

Eleanor was a sophisicated tough woman who could defend herself. There are stories of her foiling robbers, calming down rowdy men, and threatening others at gunpoint.

As she began to age, a thin mustache grew more noticible above her lip. She also wasn’t quite as refined as she had once been, now drinking whiskey and cussing. To attract more customers, Eleanor added prostitution to her business, and became a madam of a brothel with young women. To promote her women, she paraded them around town in carriages showing off their beauty in the broad daylight.

In 1870, to help diversify her money, she purchased a new ranch and cattle in Carson City. But Eleanor would fall in love with a smooth talking, good looking, man named Jack McKnight whom she thought she could trust. During those days, it was rare for women to own ranches and deal with other cattlemen, so she signed her ranch and cattle assets over to McKnight with the understanding that he would manage it on her behalf. Unfortunately, he was just a swindling con artist. In 1872 he sold her property, ran off with her money, while breaking her heart and leaving her in debt.

Shocked and then enraged, Madame Mustache was not taking his theft lightly. She eventually hunted Jack McKnight down, killing her former lover with double barrel shotgun blasts. She was never charged with his murder.

During the summer of 1876 she may have been teaching Calamity Jane better gaming skills in Ft Laramie Wyoming. She, Calamity, and some prostitutes joined Colorado Charlie Utter’s 30 wagon, wagon train as it traveled through Ft Laramie to Deadwood, South Dakota. Wild Bill Hickok was already on this wagon train and he would be murdered in Deadwood in a few weeks.

Sadly, Eleanor never fully recovered from McKnight’s ordeal. In Bodie California on September 7, 1879, she misjudged a play and lost her money. Later that night she wandered out of town alone. On the next day, Sept 8th, she was found dead from overdose of morphine. The news of her death swept along telegraph wires across the west. Its said her funeral was one of the largest in the area with carriages brought in from Carson City Nevada, 120 miles away to be used for the funeral cortege.

aka BIG NOSE KATE, aka ROWDY KATE, aka KATE ELDER, aka …….

A woman of many names, she is most famous for being Doc Holliday’s prostitute partner.

Kate was born November 7, 1850 in Hungary into a prominent family. Her father was appointed the personal physician for Austria-Hungary Archduke Maximillian. In 1864, Maximillian accepted the Title of Emperor of Mexico with the support of the French. Mary and her family left with Maximillian’s entourage to live near the Emperor in Mexico City. Due to hostile uprisings, in 1866 many of Maximillian supporters and French troops began leaving Mexico. In 1867 Maximillian was defeated and executed by the Mexican Republic (After the Civil War ended in 1865, the US began supporting the Mexican Republic by ‘losing gun deposits’ at the Mexico border, thus the reason for the French pulling out). Dr Haroney fled from Mexico with his family and settled in Davenport Iowa. But sadly, just after their arrival, both parents died from a fever epidemic within two months of each other. As a teenager, Mary and her emigrant siblings found themselves as penniless orphans in a strange territory and were placed in various foster care.

In 1867 she was under the care of a man named Otto Smith, but she quickly ran away from him for unknown reasons.
Stowing away on a steamship headed for St Louis Missouri, Captain Fisher had found her, but allowed her to stay on board. Upon arrival in St Louis, she assumed Fisher’s last name and enrolled in a convent school, but didn’t stay long.

Soon she married a dentist named Silas Melvin and they had a child. Tragically, both her son and husband died from yellow fever within a short time.

In 1869 she was listed as a prostitute for Madam Blanche Tribole in St Louis.

In 1874 she was working in Nellie Bessie Earp’s brothel in Wichita Kansas, who was James Earp’s wife.

By 1875 she was using the name Kate Elder and was listed as being a working dance hall girl in Dodge City Kansas.

In 1877 she met the famous gunslinger, Doc Holliday, at Ft Griffin Texas where he was dealing cards at John Shanssey’s Saloon.

Mary was an attractive woman, but was also known as Big Nose Kate by that time. Similar to Doc, she was known to be educated, articulate, witty, tough, and stubborn. Doc claimed she was his equal in intellect. She also had a fiery temper that matched Doc’s, especially when she was drinking.

She would spend several years with the legendary gunslinger Doc Holliday, often moving. He tried to work as a respectable dentist during the day, and at night they both would be at saloons and dance halls. He was arrested often for drinking at the gambling tables, which was illegal. During their off and on again, rocky relationship, she would still work as a prostitute, claiming that she “liked the business, and belonged to no man, nor any house.”


In 1877 in Ft Griffin Texas, Doc was dealing cards to a local man named Ed Bailey, who began to bully and irritate the famous gunslinger by looking at the discarded cards. Holliday gave him a couple warnings, but he again made the illegal card move, so Holliday had every right to grab the pool of money. It quickly escalated with Bailey pulling for his gun. Doc was faster, and his lethal knife slashed the man across his stomach killing Bailey. Knowing that he acted in self defense, Doc chose not to run, but he was still arrested for murder. A lynch mob quickly formed to seek revenge on Doc. Knowing that the group could easily overtake the lawman and hang her partner, Big Nose Kate sprang into action. She created a distraction by setting a nearby shed on fire. The fire quickly spread, threatening to burn the entire small town and many of the townsfolk, including the mob, became engaged with fighting the fire. Meanwhile, while holding a pistol in each hand, she approached and surprised the officer who was guarding Doc. She disarmed the guard, allowing Doc to escape with his life.

They stole a couple horses and headed to Dodge City Kansas registering at Deacon Cox’s Boarding House as Dr & Mrs J.H Holliday. His professional dentist services were advertised in the newspaper. For a few months, Kate withheld from prostitution, and became known as a respectable Mrs John H. Holliday. But she went back to her old ways which angered Doc, causing them to split for a while.

Learning that the Earp families were heading to Tombstone Arizona to a new silver strike, Doc traveled alone, to meet up with his friend Wyatt. Along the way, Doc won heavily at the tables and pocketed $40,000 in Prescott Arizona. Kate happened to meet up with Doc in Prescott, and kept him in company for a while.


In 1880 Doc arrived in Tombstone. Big Nose Kate was listed 175 miles away at a boarding house in Globe AZ but she would frequently visit Doc in Tombstone. When together, they got into heated arguments, which could dangerously escalate, especially when Kate was also drunk.

On March 15, 1881 Doc kicked Kate out of his room. That same evening, a stagecoach was attacked for its $26,000 bounty in silver bullion with the driver and a passenger both shot and killed by the masked bandits. The attackers were actually part of The Cowboys gang, however, The Cowboys tried to twist the facts, accusing Doc of being one of the murdering culprits. The investigating Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan, who often sided with The Cowboys, happened to find Kate drunk and upset with Doc. The sheriff took advantage of her situation and offered her more whiskey. He then persuaded her to sign an affidavit, so she “could get even with Doc”, but she was too drunk to really understand that she would be accusing Doc of the stagecoach murder. Judge Spicer issued a warrant for Doc based on her signature and he was quickly arrested.

Meanwhile, the Earps were gathering witnesses to prove Doc’s innocence and his whereabouts on the date in question. Kate sobered up, realized what had happened, and repudiated her statement so the charges against Doc were dismissed and The Cowboy’s plot exposed. With the district attorney, citing the charges against Doc as being “ridiculous”, Judge Spicer freed Holliday. Doc gave Kate some money and put her on a stage out of town.

Fast forward to 1939 in a letter that Kate wrote to her niece, she claimed that she was in Tombstone with Doc during the October 26, 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. They had been together in Tucson at a Feast and Fair when Morgan Earp rode there requesting Holliday’s assistance. Holliday asked Kate to stay put, but she refused and traveled back to Tombstone with Doc and Morgan Earp. She claimed that her and Doc stayed at C.S. Fly’s Boarding House that bordered the alley to the OK Corral. She also mentioned that Ike Clanton, just before the gunfight, had a bandaged head and had entered the house looking for Doc when Mrs Fly turned him away. It turns out, Ike had indeed been pistol whipped by Virgil Earp earlier that day for carrying, and Virgil had confiscated his firearms. Ike Clanton was unarmed at the gunfight later that afternoon.

Kate also mentioned that after the gunfight, Doc returned and sat on the bed weeping in a state of shock after being in such a close proximity shoot-out saying, “That was awful. Just awful.”

During 1882 – 1887 while Doc was living in Colorado, Kate’s brother owned property in Glenwood Springs. She and Doc may have spent some time together at the property which was near the Sulfer Springs Sanitarium and local Hotel where Doc spent his final days. In 1887 Doc died in bed from tuberculosis at the age of 36.

In 1888 Kate married George Cummings in Aspen Colorado. A blacksmith by trade, they moved to Bisbee Arizona, near Tombstone, and she ran a bakery. Then they moved to Wilcox Arizona but he became too abusive, so she left him and moved to Cochise Arizona working in a hotel.

Around 1900 she answered a newspaper ad and moved in with an ornery divorced miner named John J. Howard in a town called Dos Cabezas as a paid house servant. Howard was one of the first miners in that district with both Howard Canyon, and Howard Peak, named after him. He and Kate maintained a good relationship until his death in 1930. She lived alone in the old shack for nearly two more years while hoping to sell the claims, but the Bank told her they were worthless, as this was during the Great Depression. Kate had no income, and being too weak to chop wood and haul in water, she opted to sell the homestead for just over $500.

In 1931 she wrote several letters to Arizona officials and Arizona Governor, George Hunt, asking for help getting admission into the Arizona Pioneer Home, which was built for destitute miners. Since she was foreign born she wasn’t eligible, but then she re-claimed her birth in Davenport Iowa and was accepted to the home several months later, becoming its first female resident. She was approx 81 years old.

Kate started talking to Anton Mazzonovich, and Prescott historian A.W. Bork in the 1930’s as she was hoping to make some money by getting her autobiography published. Other Earp biographies were being published in the 1930’s, and that probably spurred her. She asked for too much money, so unfortunately, hers wasn’t published until long after her death in the 1960’s.

Kate died November 2, 1940 just 5 days short of her 90th Birthday. Her death certificate has conflicting parents names and birth locations, afterall, it was the superintendent of the Pioneer Home who was the informant on her death certificate.

Thanks for reading!


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