They called her Cattle Kate. They said she was a dirty rustler. They said she was a filthy whore. And history said it was “rangeland justice” when prominent cattlemen strung her up with her husband in 1889 in Wyoming Territory — the only woman ever hanged in the nation for rustling.
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 29-year-old immigrant homesteader, lynched 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. But the legend was stronger than the truth. For more than a century, newspapers, magazines, books — movies, too — 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.