Better known as "Squirrel Tooth Alice,” Mary
Elizabeth "Libby" Haley Thompson was a popular "soiled dove” in the
frontier cow towns of the
West, despite gap the in her teeth that earned her nickname.
She was born in 1855 in Belton,
James and Mary Raybourne Haley. Growing up was difficult for Mary
Elizabeth, as the family lost nearly everything during the
Towards the end of the conflict, things got worse
for Libby when the family farm was raided by
in 1864 and she was kidnapped. She remained with the
for three years until 1867, when her parents paid a ransom for her
Through no fault of her own, Mary Elizabeth
was seen as a "marked woman” after her release. Though she was only 13
years-old, most people assumed that she had been "used” by the
during her captivity and she was shunned and ostracized from society.
Elizabeth "Libby" Haley Thompson,
aka: "Squirrel Tooth Alice."
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Just a short time
later, she met an older man who cared little about her past. Though
the girl may have been happy with her suitor, her father was not and
soon shot and killed the man.
the 14 year-old ran away from home and traveled to
few options to support herself, she became a dance hall girl and
prostitute. It was in this role that she earned the nickname "Squirrel
Tooth Alice,” for two reasons – one the prominent gap in her teeth,
and the second, an odd penchant for making pets of prairie dogs, which
she kept on a collar and leash. While in
met gambler and gunman,
William "Texas Billy” Thompson,
brother to more famous
Before long, the pair
became a couple and Libby followed
as he worked as a cowboy along the
Trail and she continued to
make money as a dance hall girl in a number of places along the trail.
However, by 1872,
they were back in
made his living gambling and Libby continuing to work the saloons. The
following year, Libby gave birth to her first child and the two got
In August of 1873,
Thompson, in a state of
drunkenness, shot and killed
Sheriff Chauncey Whitney.
was arrested but soon bailed out and the couple fled back to
caught up with
in October, 1876 and he was extradited back to
stand trial for the killing of Sheriff Whitney. Amazingly, the
shooting was ruled an accident and
was let go. Later, they wound up in
where Libby worked once again as a dancer and prostitute.
the Thompsons drifted to
briefly but soon made their way back to
Sweetwater, they finally settled down, purchasing a ranch outside of
town and Libby set up a dancehall and brothel in town.
Over the years, Libby had nine children, three of which were said to have
been fathered by someone other than
In the meantime, her Sweetwater brothel became prosperous.
died of stomach ailment but Libby continued to run her Sweetwater brothel
until she finally retired in 1921 at the age of sixty-six. Most of her
sons had turned to a life of crime and her daughters followed her into
prostitution. Sometime later, she moved to Palmdale,
She lived a long life
before finally dying at the age of 98 on April 13, 1953 at the Sunbeam
Rest Home in
of America, March, 2008