Women Of the Wild West

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Lil Britches

 

Lil Britches is being portrayed by Kathy Nakamura 

Born Jennie Stevens in 1879 she was an American Outlaw that was association wit Cattle Annie and the Doolin Gang.  Lil Britches became enchanted with crime at a young age and while riding with the Doolin Gang she lost her horse and was sent home.  Rebuked by her father, he married her off to a deaf and mute horse dealer Benjamin Midkiff in 1895. Their union was cut short when Benjamin discovered her infidelity and after a mere 6 weeks handed her back to her father who would attempt to confine her to their home to teach her a lesson.  Britches escaped the family, stole a horse and headed out along the Arkansas River in search of adventure.  
Soon she apparently married Robert Stephens, but the union lasted only six months. At a community dance Jennie and Annie met the Doolin gang, later called the Wild Bunch (not the Butch Cassidy gang of the same name). 
Little Britches and Cattle Annie were excellent horsewomen and markswomen who dressed in men's clothing. The two women evaded law enforcement and became known for their daring pursuits throughout the region. The pair sold whisky to the Osage and Pawnee tribes and engaged in horse theft, operating either together or alone. They alerted other outlaws about the location of law enforcement officers.  
In mid-August 1895, Little Britches was captured, but she soon escaped from a restaurant in Pawnee, Oklahoma Territory, while she was in the custody of Sheriff Frank Lake. Journalist accounts maintain that she left through the back door of the establishment despite the presence of a guard. She was tracked down quite quickly by law enforcement and was captured when her horse was shot.  She was taken into custody but not without putting up a fight.  Eye witness accounts that were reported to a local paper stated that she made several attempts to shoot the marshal and his deputy.  
Britches was imprisoned for horse theft, selling alcohol to natives and smuggling, she was sentenced to 2 months hard labour and was a model prisoner.  Her short sentence was partly because she was convinced to be a material witness in a murder trial after witnessing a murder in the hotel where she worked with former husband Benjamin.  
Released in October 1896 she was returned to her parents as a rehabilitated woman.  
Lil Britches and Cattle Annie had only thwarted the law for only two years in the Indian and Oklahoma territories, but their escapades proved a challenge to law enforcement and the judicial system. It will never be known if she was actually rehabilitated because there are reports of a third husband who vanished.  Her death is also unknown.  It is thought that in their later years they settled off somewhere but it remains a mystery…and an inspiration for a 1977 movie staring Diane Lane, Amanda Plummer and Burt Lancaster.