Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Old West Cowgirl Spirit......

Old West Pioneer Women branding cattle- from the book "Cowgirls Women of the wild west” by Elizabeth Clair Flood


The cowgirls of the old west had spirit, courage, drive, strength (both physical and mental) and could ride a horse, take care of a homestead, brand cattle and shoot a gun!!!!




This post is for all the Cowgirls and the Cowgirls at heart who share that same independent feisty spirit of the old west, today........


The story below is from the book "Cowgirls Women of the wild west” by Elizabeth Clair Flood


“One afternoon in 1888 trail driver Samuel Dunn Houston of San Antonio Texas hired a few men in Clayton New Mexico for a spring drive to
Colorado. He found “a kid of a boy” at the livery stable who wanted to go up the trail.

Named Willie Matthews, he was 19 years old, weighed 125 pounds and was from Caldwell, Kansas. Houston soon discovered that he was also a good hand. In the Trail Drivers of Texas Houston reported:

“The kid would get up the darkest stormy nights and stay with the cattle until the storm was over. He was good natured, very modest, didn’t use and cuss words or tobacco and was always pleasant……I was so pleased with him that I wished many times that I could find two or three more like him.”


Houston wrote that the drive went smoothly until they reached Hugo, Colorado when Matthews approached him after dinner on the trail and asked if he could quit. “He insisted, said he was homesick, and I had to let him go.”

About sundown, all the cowboys were sitting around the campfire when a young lady “all dressed up” approached from the direction of town. Houston was baffled as to why a woman would visit his camp. When the lady was twenty feet from him, she laughed. “Mr Houston, you don’t know me, do you?”

Houston’s mouth dropped open. “Kid, is it possible that you are a lady?” He and the rest of his men were dumbfounded. All Houston could think of was what was said on the trail over the last three weeks.

He ordered her to sit down on a tomatoe box and explain herself. She told Mr. Houston that her father was an old-time trail driver from Caldwell. When she was 10 or 12 years old, she used to listen to his stories about he cow trails in the 1870’s. Fascinated, she vowed that she too would drive the cattle one day.

“Now, Mr Houston, I am glad I found you to make the trip with, for I have enjoyed it, “ she said as she left for home."


A traditional cowgirl outfit in the old west consisted of:


A typical pair of Victorian gauntlets, a short skirt, tall lace up boots, and a red scarf. The sash was probably a style adopted from Charlie Russell who, inspired by the vaquero costume always wore a red sash.

The Victorian riding gauntlets featuring embroidered roses were often sold at Western trading posts. Inspired by cavalry gauntlets, cowboys and cowgirls adopted the style of the work glove embellished with various Indian designs.

(the 2 pics are both from the book "Cowgirls Women of the wild west” by Elizabeth Clair Flood)

Cowgirl riding gauntlets (pic to the left) came in a wide variety of commercial designs. Many were embroidered with horse shoes and whips, others were decorated in buckskin fringe. Cowgirls wore gauntlets for work and in the show arena.



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