History Features

The Great McGinty

Billy McGinty was an unlikely hero. Only five feet, two inches tall, the sawed off bronc buster from Oklahoma Territory couldn’t march in step and was allergic to military discipline, but he turned out to be one heck of a fighting man. McGinty distinguished himself as a trooper with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry—Rough Riders—during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Teddy Roosevelt said of McGinty, “we had no better or braver man in the fights.”

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Branded But Unbroken

Olive OatmanThe image of strong women pioneers and trailblazers of yesteryear has grown hazy in the decades since the mass migration west. For many, the type of woman who dared venture into the rugged frontier is relegated to two categories: the corset-wearing soiled dove with the heart of gold who entertained in saloons or the forlorn schoolmarm who struggled to educate a community caught in survival mode in a world without law and order.

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Biggest Nugget in the Black Hills

/potato-creek-johnnyWhen the beloved man’s funeral cortege passed the Adams Museum on March 3, 1943, a bell began tolling. It rang 77 times, matching the years of his life. Hymns played on carillons chimed from a distance as mourners grieved graveside at Mount Moriah Cemetery overlooking Deadwood, South Dakota. John Eli Perrett had died after a two-week illness, drawing to a close an era that marked the transition from pioneer prospecting exploits in Indian territory to America’s entry into WWII.

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When Billy the Kid Was Billie the Kid

The-Parsona-nd-the-put-law_billy-the-kid_anthony-dexterCasting a woman in a male role makes sense. After all, Linda Hunt won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as an Indonesian man in 1982’s The Year of Living Dangerously. Besides, look at that tintype of Billy the Kid and then read the descriptions of him: “slightly built and lithe,” “really girlish looking.” If you were making a movie called Billy the Kid, why not cast an actress in the lead role?

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Dead Wrong About Cattle Kate

Cattle-KateThey said Cattle Kate was a dirty rustler and a filthy whore.

They cried out, “rangeland justice,” when she became the only woman ever lynched in the nation as a cattle rustler.

They called her killing “justified” when six prominent cattlemen strung her up with her secret husband on a hot July Saturday in 1889 in Wyoming Territory.

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