Cattle Kate is the only woman ever lynched as a cattle
rustler. History called it “range-land justice” when she was strung up in
Wyoming Territory on July 20, 1889, tarring her as a dirty thief and a filthy
But history was wrong. It was all a lie.
Her real name was Ella Watson.
She wasn’t a rustler. She wasn’t a whore. And she’d never been called Cattle
Kate until she was dead and they needed an excuse. She was really a twenty-nine-year-old
immigrant homesteader, lynched along with her husband by her rich and powerful
cattle-baron neighbors, who wanted her land and its precious water rights. Some
people knew the truth from the start. Their voices were drowned out by the
all-powerful Wyoming Stock Growers Association. And those who dared speak out—including
the eyewitnesses to the hangings—either disappeared or mysteriously died. There
was no one left to testify against the vigilantes when the case eventually came
to trial. Her six killers walked away scot-free. But the legend was stronger
than the truth. For over a century, newspapers, magazines, books, and movies spread
her ugly legacy.
Now, on the 125th anniversary of her murder, the real Ella
comes alive in Cattle Kate to tell
her heartbreaking story. Jana Bommersbach’s debut novel bares a legend central
to the western experience. Download and start listening now!