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Cattle Kate    by Jana Bommersbach order for
Cattle Kate
by Jana Bommersbach
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

On July 20, 1889, Cattle Kate became the only woman ever lynched as a cattle rustler! She was accused of being a dirty thief and a filthy whore! The most important fact about this lynching is that Cattle Kate was not what she was portrayed to be. She was a legitimate homesteader who wanted to raise cattle and work her land, following guidelines that had been set up for ambitious men and/or women to make their way in the world.

Unfortunately, greed got in her way. A man who owned a plot next to hers felt that her land had always been a grazing area for his cattle and he wanted to continue using it as his own. He did so without compunction, firmly believing that what he wanted he could have. No matter who owned it.

Cattle Kate is a heartbreaking story that tears at your emotions, even more when you realize that her story is a true one. But her name was not Cattle Kate. It was Ella Watson. She had left her family behind when she became an immigrant homesteader in Wyoming Territory. Her only crime was refusing to meet her neighbor's demands.

She was hung beside her husband by six vigilantes who walked free because no one could prove these men had been responsible for the death of the man and wife. Ella had had a hard row to hoe taking on the homesteader property. It was a difficult existence with hard, manual labor. She took it on gladly to make a better life for herself and possibly for future children.

She never got to fulfill her dreams because of one man who was the instigator of such a vile act. She was known through the years only as Cattle Kate until Jana Bommerbach started to research Ella's story. Bommerbach is a well-respected and acclaimed journalist and this is her first novel. I do hope she continues to bust a few more myths.

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