the windswept plains of eastern
stands the only monument to a prostitute known to exist in the United
States. Though "Featherlegs,”
as she was known, was seemingly well liked by area residents, it is
doubtful that the area citizens would have built a monument to her during
her heyday. However, she was seemingly perceived to be an
"important” part of history along the Cheyenne-Deadwood
Stage Road when the monument was erected in 1964.
Back in 1876, on the Silver Springs Road, near Muskrat Canyon, Charlotte
"Mother Featherlegs" Shephard established a
"house of ill-repute.” Though it was really more of a dugout than a
"house,” it didn’t stop the many men, lonely for female companionship,
from frequenting her establishment.
Featherlegs Painting by Art Kober, courtesy
Art Kober Website
She was called "Featherlegs”
because her lace trimmed red pantalettes made her limbs look like
chicken legs and she was often known to gallop across the prairie
riding astride a horse with her lacy ruffles flowing in the wind. When one of her customers commented that she looked just like a
feather-legged chicken, the nickname stuck. A middle-aged
auburn-haired woman, she ran the establishment along with an
who was called Dangerous Dick Davis. In no time, the saloon and
brothel became a favorite gathering place for Dangerous Dick’s
Featherlegs was often entrusted with large sums of money and
jewelry, that she would hide for the
until they could safely dispose of them.
But for Featherlegs, the prosperity was not to last. In 1879, when a
woman named Mrs. O.J. Demmon, the wife of a Silver Springs rancher,
took a ride along the trail, she found the madam’s murdered body next
to the spring. Having laid their for several days, moccasin tracks
like those worn by "Dangerous Dick” were found around her body. Featherlegs was buried where she died. Meanwhile, Dangerous
Dick had skipped the country, along with her cache of money and
With the booty in hand, Dangerous Dick
returned to the swamps of Louisiana, which had long been his preferred
choice for his
activities. However, a couple of years later he was found there
and charged with robbery and murder. Before he was hanged, he
confessed to having killed Mother
Featherlegs and told the world that her real name was Charlotte
Shephard. However many contend that Charlotte wasn't here real name
either, and Bob Darrow, founder of
MotherFeatherLegs.com, tells us that the name Charlotte came from
a poem that Russell Thorp recited at the monument dedication.
The 3,500 pound pink granite monument was
erected in 1964 in conjunction with a reenactment of the Cheyenne-Deadwood
Her lies Mother Mother
Featherlegs. So called, as in her ruffled pantalettes she looked
like a feather-legged chicken in a high wind. She was roadhouse ma'am.
confederate, she was murdered by "Dangerous Dick Davis the Terrapin"
At the time of the re-enacted stage run, her famous pantalets were
also on display at the marker. However, they were stolen on the
same day. Years later, when they were discovered in a
saloon in 1990, a determined "posse” of Lusk residents raided the
saloon and got them back. Unfortunately, for fear of further theft,
they no longer grace the site of the monument. They now are on
display at the Stagecoach Museum in Lusk,
The monument is located
ten miles south of Lusk on the old Cheyenne trail. Be prepared, this
unpaved road can often be pitted with muddy ruts.
of America, updated August, 2014.