Ellen Watson, dubbed by local newspapers in the late 1880ís, as "Cattle
Kate,Ē has long been thought of as an
Watson and her husband,
were hanged by
near the Sweetwater River in
on July 20, 1889 for the accused crime of cattle rustling. However, there is a mystery surrounding the hangings and it appears
that their deaths were unjustified, perpetrated by powerful land and
cattle owners of the time.
Ellen Liddy Watson was born on July 2, 1861 to Thomas Lewis Watson and
Frances Close Watson near Arran Lake, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada.
she was called, was the oldest of ten children, six of which were also
born in Canada before the family moved to
in 1877. Settling near Lebanon in Smith County,
Ella, as she was called, met a young man by the name of William A
Pickell who lived on a neighboring farm. On November 24, 1879,
Ella and 21-year-old William were married. But within just a
few short months
Ella found that her husband was both a heavy drinker and an
abusive man. Often, he would verbally abuse her then
escalate the violence to physical blows and striking her with a
horsewhip. By January 1883, she could take it no longer and fled
to her parentís home. Later, she moved to Red Cloud,
14 miles north of her parentís farm to put even more distance between
herself and her estranged husband. On February 14, 1884, she
filed for divorce.
Against her parentís
Colorado after filing for divorce. Seeking better opportunities,
she lived with a brother for a short time, but didnít stay long.
moved again, first to Cheyenne,
in late 1885 or
early 1886. She found employment at a boarding house called the
"Rawlins HouseĒ as a cook and domestic for about two years.
Watson has often been misidentified as a prostitute because the
Rawlins House was erroneously thought to have been a brothel.
On February 24, 1886, she met a
handsome young man named James Averell, who was in
Rawlins to file a claim on his
homestead 60 miles east of Rawlins near
the Sweetwater River. Immediately, the two fell for each other
and began to court.
was born on March 20, 1851 to John and Sarah Ann Averell in Renfrew
County, Ontario Canada. The youngest of seven children, his father
died shortly after his birth. At the age of 20,
the military and was initially assigned to Fort Douglas,
and later transferred to Fort Fred Steele,
15 miles east of Rawlins. In 1876 he was discharged but he soon
re-enlisted, this time assigned to Fort McKinley,