You want to hear a story about the original ‘Bad Girl’ then listen to mine cause it’s a good one!
I was born in 1876 on November 13th in Ontario, Canada. You might say I was a restless soul and at an early age grew bored with my “proper” upbringing.
My family was wealthy and very religious and as I became a teen I felt increasingly suffocated by the confines of this restrictive lifestyle. At the age of sixteen they sent me away to boarding school, one of the finest in the country and I hated every minute of it. I wasn’t like the other girls, I felt older than them and more mature.
I saw men differently too, at an early age I figured out that if a girl was of a mind too many of them could be talked into darn near anything and I used this secret to my advantage. It wasn’t long before I set my sights on a fella by the name of Frank Hart, he would be my ticket out, or so I thought.
The Journey Begins
We eloped, but once the new was wore off Frank became an abusive bastard with a liking for too much booze and gambling. The first time he dotted my eye I fled back home, but I hated it there too and time and time again Frank would talk me into coming back and over the course of a couple years I had two children to him, Joe and Emma. I knew we weren’t able to care for them proper so in time I sent them both to live with my Mother.
1893 was a turning point for me, Frank and I found ourselves at the Chicago World’s Fair and while Frank was off doing whatever the hell Frank does, I made my way to the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and that was it for me! When I saw them cowboys horseback they were the image of pure freedom to me, and then I saw Annie Oakley or “Little Sure Shot” as that Indian Chief Sitting Bull called her. Here was a young gal out on her own living a life of adventure and I decided I wanted my own adventure.
I left Frank right then and there and jumped a train headed West and ended up in Colorado. This began my “wild years”, I was young and pretty and honed my skill at getting what I wanted from the men I encountered. I developed a taste for men’s trousers, fine whiskey and a good cigar. I even dabbled in the consumption of opiates but it never took to me like it did for some. Now as far as my dealings with men is concerned I never considered myself a prostitute, let’s just say that items of value were exchanged for certain considerations and leave it at that!
I had a run in with Frank one more time in Tucson and I guess being a sucker for my first love, I fell in with him again for a short while, but once that scoundrel spent all my money he lit out for the Spanish-American War and I said good riddance for the last time! I hope he stopped a bullet down there, but I never did hear.
In 1898 I fell on hard times in Mammoth, Arizona. The mine closed down and the men dried up so I partnered with a miner by the name of Joe Boot, least that’s what he called himself. We robbed the stagecoach at the watering hole in Hidden Springs Canyon on May 30, 1899. We got away with over $400.00, equivalent to about $13,000.00 in your dollars today. We thought we hit the jackpot until our luck turned bad and we were arrested by Sheriff Truman. Boot surrendered easy, but they took me kicking and screaming to jail.
Long story short I ended up in prison in the Yuma Territorial Prison and became an overnight celebrity known as the “Bandit Queen”, Arizona’s only female stage robber. I was treated like a queen as well and it wasn’t long before I had all the guards and even the warden in the palm of my hand. I even escaped once and when they caught me and took me back they didn’t even charge me or extend my sentence.
Finally Settling Down
After two years served of a five year sentence I was mysteriously pardoned and released by the territorial Governor Alexander Brodie. Let’s just say there was a minor indiscretion that occurred between me and the warden and to save face and preserve their good names I was quietly dismissed in December of 1902.
It wasn’t long after that I met and married Cal Bywater, we lived the next fifty years together, enjoying a private and peaceful life. We never talked much about those “wild years”, Cal didn’t ask many questions and I didn’t offer, but when alone and I would think back about those “lively times” I had to smile for I knew I had saddled up the West and rode the hair off her and loved every minute of it, without regret.