Tag Archives: James Averell

A Lynching, an Opera, and a Book

The lynching of ‘Cattle Kate’ is a story most people interested in the history of the west know, yet don’t really know.  It’s a story that’s gone through so many permutations, from “Cattle Kate” becoming the name of a western wear company through the all-star, disastrous three and a half hour re-writing of history called “Heaven’s Gate,” that most people nowadays would probably just relegate it to the annals of The Wild West.  Basically, the tale as it has stood through the years is that on the morning of July 20, 1889, a vigilante party led by one Albert Bothwell accused Ellen Liddy Watson

Ellen Liddy Watson, by kind permission of the Wyoming State Archives

and her ‘lover’ James Averell of cattle rustling and branding, and summarily took them out and hung them.  Subsequently, Bothwell and his cronies were tried but, being wealthy cattlemen and ranchers, members of the prestigious Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, they were let off.  It was left as a shameful episode in the history of Wyoming. Continue reading