Frontierado is Friday, August 5th!
BETH BASSETT – Elizabeth Bassett, her husband Herb and their children were traveling by wagon toward California in 1877 when Beth was 22. They stopped off in Wyoming to visit Herb’s brother, who lived in a cabin along the Green River. Beth and her husband fell in love with the area and abandoned their plans to continue on to California.
The Bassetts established their home in a nearby valley originally called Brown’s Hole but renamed Brown’s Park by Beth. Unconventionally for the time period Beth oversaw the building and enlarging of the family’s ranch while Herb taught the children inside.
In September of 1879 the Ute Indians went on the warpath and the Bassetts, like all the other families in the region, temporarily relocated to Rock Springs while the U.S. Army and the Utes fought it out. By 1881 Beth and her family were back in Brown’s Park to pick up where they left off. Their ranch was becoming renowned for breeding some of the best horses in the West while also raising cattle, growing crops and establishing an orchard.
The 1880s saw the crooked cattle barons of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (of Johnson County War fame) move into the area, driving many of the families out through violence, money and political maneuvering. The Bassetts and others stayed, only to see the WSGA use even dirtier tactics.
The cattle barons would sweep up the cattle of smaller ranches at will and proclaim them to be theirs. Beth Bassett wouldn’t stand for it, however, and organized some of her ranch hands into the Brown’s Park Gang. She led the Gang in many rustling expeditions against the WSGA, especially the Two Bar Ranch and the Middlesex Land and Cattle Company. Beth was a master strategist and wasn’t shy about resorting to gunplay if needed.
Some very big names got their start or spent time working as rustlers for Beth Bassett. Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and the Mormon Kid (Matt Warner) served under the legendary female general of the rustling profession. Cassidy, who looked up to Beth like an older sister, was nearly as well-read as Herb Bassett and made great company for the displaced scholar.
Another of Beth’s lieutenants was freed slave Isom Dart, better known as the Doctor – as in Brand Doctor. Dart worked wonders at disguising and reworking the brands on the cattle rustled by the Brown’s Park Gang. At the dinner table Isom liked to brag that his guests were eating beef courtesy of the Two Bar Ranch or the Middlesex Company.
The WSGA was hiring more and more gunmen to do battle with these Robin Hood rustlers and the gunslinging diva who led them. Names like Tom Horn, Cattle Kate, Nate Champion and (possibly) Kid Russell would all be caught up in the Johnson County Range War.
The violence escalated even more in the early 1890s and the conflict finally ended when federal troops came in to clamp down. In December of 1892 Beth Bassett passed away, either from a burst appendix or the perils of a late pregnancy, sources vary. Like Michael Corleone taking over “the family business” for his father, Beth’s daughter Ann would assume control of the Brown’s Park Gang.
She did her mother proud, earning a name as “Queen” Ann and leading the Brown’s Park Gang to even more fame. For Queen Ann’s saga click HERE. +++
FOR TWO GUNSLINGERS IN THIS SAME MOLD CLICK HERE
AND FOR SIX MORE NEGLECTED WESTERN FIGURES CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2012/06/18/six-neglected-wild-west-figures/
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