Women Of the Wild West

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The Bassett Sisters

 

Ann Bassett is portrayed by Sherry Purcha Quntilio and 

Josie Bassett is portrayed by Kristy Willick 

Ann Bassett

 

Known and “Queen Ann Bassett” was a well-known cattle rustler with associations to outlaw gangs, most prominently Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. 

 

Born in 1878, in Colorado her parents, well to do cattle ranchers whose land straddled, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, would undergo business transactions with notable outlaws of the era such as Butch Cassidy, Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan, and Black Jack Ketchum, selling them horses and beef for supplies. 

 

Ann was an attractive young woman, well educated in prominent boarding schools.  She was intelligent and very articulate.  Her father Bill also versed his daughters (Ann and her older sister Josie) in the art of riding a horse, roping and marksmanship.  Despite the well rounded up-bringing, the sisters preferred “cowboying” around, which is not doubt how they came to find themselves in relationships with outlaws. 

 

By 1896 the family would find themselves in a feud with several wealthy cattle barons who were looking to take over their land.  When the family refused offers, the barons would rustle their cattle.  Ann and Josie would retaliate and rustle cattle from the barons. 

 

It would lead the family to hire a well-known gunman “Tom Horn” to “deal with” the cattlemen whom the family declared criminals.  Several men were gunned down and despite the action, no retaliation was taken by the barons.  It is thought that the connections to the famous outlaws offered protection to the family.

 

Both sisters took up the fight but it was Ann who became better known landing her the name “Queen” By early 1897 the sisters took up with the Wild Bunch and Ann would become very romantically involved with Butch Cassidy, which would lead historians to parallel her to Etta Place, igniting rumors that the two women were in fact the dame person.  Cassidy would send them home in late 1897, and after an on and off relationship the two would last see each other before Cassidy left for South America.  Many of the outlaw men she was associated with would be arrested and go in and out of jail for crimes, with Ann only being arrested once in 1904. 

 

She settled in 1928 and Married Frank Wills, a respectable cattle/business man, they maintained a ranch in Utah and were said to have loved each other deeply.  She died in 1956.

Josie Bassett

Born in 1874, Josie was also a very attractive young woman, well versed as her sister and was a “cowgirl” at heart. 

 

She was romantically linked to Elzy Lay, who was Butch Cassidy’s closest friend.  It was a complicated circle of relationships that developed between the Bassett girls and Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang. Despite the seemingly constant changes in romantic companions by both the Bassett girls and the gang members, there is no indication that any animosity ever resulted from it.

 

Josie Bassett was reportedly one of only five women who were allowed into the outlaw hideout called "Robbers Roost", located in Utah; the others were her sister Ann, the Sundance Kid's girlfriend Etta Place, Elzy Lay's wife Maude Davis, and Will "News" Carver's girl Laura Bullion.

 

The gang would fade in 1904 and it is thought that after his release from prison Elzy Lay visited her ranch in 1906.  Josie also claims that Butch Cassidy visited the ranch in 1940, which was the basis of disputing the theory that he was killed in Bolivia.

 

Josie lived an outdoor life on her fathers’ land.  She is reported having 5 husbands, divorced 3, chased one off with a frying pan and is thought to have poisoned the last.  She had 2 sons, with whom she would relocate in 1924 to Vernal, Utah where her son Crawford would build her a cabin. 

 

During the Great Depression she would be caught and released from charges of poaching claiming she needed the deer to make soaps and clothing that she was giving to those in need around her. 

 

During Prohibition she became a skilled bootlegger and learned to make her own brandy and whiskey for further profit, building a modest still.  She ran this until word came that the authorities were on the hunt for her still, thus shutting her operation down.

 

In 1945 she was victim to a land scheme and lost all of her land, however her frugal living and ability to adapt saw her live into her 80’s in her cabin. She became very eccentric often telling tales of her outlaw days. 

 

In 1963 she was knocked off a horse and she broke her hip.  She died, the last remaining associate of the Wild Bunch, a few months later at the age of 90.