Presents a fictionalized account of the life of Ella Watson, also known as Cattle Kate, and her husband James Averell, who were lynched by vigilantes in 1889 for allegedly stealing cattle.
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Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona's most respected and acclaimed journalists. She has earned numerous national, state, and regional awards, including the prestigious Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting for her series of articles on Winnie Ruth Judd that led to the eponymous book. She lives in Phoenix.Review:
In her outstanding first novel, a historical mystery, journalist Bommersbach (The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd) resurrects the name and reputation of real-life Ellen "Ella" Watson, who was lynched for allegedly rustling cattle in the Wyoming Territory on July 20, 1889. Watson was born out of wedlock in 1860 in Ontario, Canada, to a 15-year-old Irish mother, Frances, and her Scottish lover, Thomas. Her parents married, and produced 16 more children, many of whom died young. In 1877, the family trekked to Kansas to homestead a new farm. Ella married and later divorced an abusive man, then in 1885 boldly struck out on her own for the Wyoming Territory. Hard work earned Ella a measure of success, first as a boardinghouse cook and waitress, later as the secret wife of postmaster Jimmy Averell, and finally as a homesteader with her own claim. But Ella made enemies of several big cattlemen, including rancher Albert J. Bothwell, who will lead her lynching. Bommersbach beautifully recreates the milieu in which Ella struggled to realize her dreams. Extensive endnotes provide further background on this miscarriage of justice. (Publishers Weekly starred review)
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