WOMEN of the 1800's - Frontier and Oldwest

Our efforts here are two-fold; to act in both the defense of the women of that period of the 1800's, which included the Oldwest and the frontier. Also to clarify several issues that seem to be croping up in both literature and in the movies produced by Hollywood and TV.

Hollywood tends to show women in a light that is not historically correct, but more in keeping with current trends of feminism. Or, in other words the way some women would have liked for it to have been.

From the time that Europeans first set foot on American soil,women have picked up the rifle in defense of house and home. This however does not infer that they were gunslicks nor gunfighters. There were several who became noted as crack shots through their involvement with various Wild West Shows. There were also a very few who became famous as outlaws.

I for one, knew my grandmother's who were born in the middle to late 1800's. I knew them for what they were and what they did.

My paternal grandmother dipped snuff and smoked a corncob pipe.

Remember that jobs on the frontier [oldwest] were few and far between for men as well as women; even more so for women. Their options were marriage, laundry or sewing, saloon girls [ working girls], or outlaws [madam of bawdy houses]. A very few were professional entertainers [respected].


Female Entertainers and Saloon Girls

Charlotte Mignon "Lotta" Crabtree [1847-1924]
Noted entertainer - singer and dancer


Eliza Gilbert "Lola Montez" [1818-Jan17, 1861]
Entertainer with a very inflated reputation


Lillie Langtry an actress [known as the "Bell of Judge Roy Bean"]

Lillie, a well known actress in her own rights, was made even more famous by the admoration of Judge Roy Bean; who was known as the "Law West of the Pecos". Legend has it that he had a large painting of her behind the bar in his saloon/judges chambers.

Judge Roy Bean

Judge Roy Bean's courthouse/saloon


Female Sharpshooters

There were many Wild West Shows, such as "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show", "101 Ranch Wild West Show", "Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show", these are just a few of the shows which allowed these young ladies to demonstrate their skills.

Phoebe Moses "Annie Oakley" - born 1860
Noted Sharpshooter, known world wide for shooting abilities

Calamity Jane
Born Martha Jane Cannery, Calamity Jane was unique among her piors in that she chose to dress and act like a man. Drink, gamble, cuss, etc.. known friend and associate of Wild Bill Hickock



Female Outlaws and Desperados

Myra Maybelle Shirley "Belle Starr"


Anna McDoulet "Cattle Annie" [1895 period]

Jennie Midkiff "Little Britches" [1895 period]

These two young ladies are two of the best known female outlaws in Oklahoma outlaw history.


Pearl Hart

Pearl Hart was a notorious outlaw known best as a stagecoach robber. She was one of the famous inmates of the Yuma Territorial Prison in Yuma, Arizona.

Many other women and girls were imprisoned in the Yuma Territorial Prison for various crimes against society and its morals.


Some of these imprisoned women were:

Bertha Trimble
convicted of accomplice to the rape of her own 12 year old daughter.


In the southwest during the middle to late 1800's; women were held in a much more restrictive light than in other areas. Many were sent to Yuma Prison for offenses that would have been overlooked in other areas. Or, if not overlooked at least not recieve as severe a sentence as many did.

Young Mexican girls under age imprisoned in the Yuma Territorial Prison.

Maria Moreno - [under age 18]
convicted for murder - killing her own brother, with a shotgun.

Theresa Garcia - [under age 18]
convicted of recieving stolen property.

Trinidad Montano - [under age 18]
convicted of burglary.


Women who concealed their idenity

Charley Darkey Parkhurst, aka the "Whip"

Charley was a stagecoach driver for the California Stage Lines. She stood 5'7" tall but slender. It wasn't common knowledge that Charley was born Charlotte in 1812. This is according to her statements when she registered to vote in 1867 at the age of 55. She was well known as a stage driver, with one eye and the various nicknames of the; "whip", "one-eyed Charley", and "cock-eyed Charley." It wasn't until she died that it became known that Charley was in fact a woman. She then became a legend in California history.

Coaches that Charley commonly drove

Charley the old stage coach driver