The story of the brave Katherine Sloterback, who killed 140 rattlesnakes and made a dress out of themBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-story-of-the-brave-katherine-sloterback-who-killed-140-rattlesnakes-and-made-a-dress-out-of-them
We know many stories when a person, forced to protect himself and his loved ones, did incredible things. But among all of them, Katherine Sloterback's heroic act in 1925 is particularly striking. This woman found herself in a nightmare, surrounded by hundreds of venomous snakes, but managed to protect herself and her son from them. The award of the brave Catherine was fame and a very unusual trophy, which had no analogues in the United States.
Katherine McHale Sloterback was born on July 25, 1893, to ordinary American farmers Wallace and Albina McHale, near Longmont, Colorado. Katherine's childhood and youth were spent in the woods that surrounded her family's log house, so she was an excellent shot, a master with a knife and an axe, and also knew a lot about taxidermy.
From her peers, Catherine was distinguished by an independent character, a love of strong words and men's clothing, which was very unusual for American women of the early 20th century. Despite some masculinity, the girl chose for herself a completely female profession of a nurse and graduated from medical school with honors.
Since there was no job for a young nurse in the Longmont area, McHale moved to Hudson, a small town on the other side of Colorado. The climate was semi-desert, unusual for Catherine, but it was full of life, and the local hospital offered not only jobs, but also free housing.
In her new position, Catherine McHale wasted no time and immediately married a simple guy named John, adding the name of her husband Sloterback to her own. It should be noted that the nurse was married at least six times and there is no reliable information about all her husbands and children.
But it is known for certain that on October 28, 1925, Catherine, with her three-year-old son (or stepson) Ernie Adamson, went on horseback to the lake in the vicinity of the Hudson. Along the way, they heard a series of gunshots and deviated from the route to watch the duck hunt. Most likely, Sloterback hoped that she would be able to pick up the prey before the shooters – this type of fishing in the province, although it was frowned upon, was quite common.
But the woman did not even imagine what kind of trouble she and her son would get into if they drove off the road. Instead of ducks, the travelers found an army of migrating rattlesnakes, which surrounded the rider and her son from all sides. Catherine had never left the house without a rifle, but in this case, firearms were of little use.
After firing three bullets at the reptiles from her .22-caliber rifle and seeing no result, the woman dismounted and engaged in an unequal battle with the reptiles, clearing the way for her horse, on the back of which sat a frightened son. It must be said that the rattlesnake is one of the most venomous reptiles in North America and a person dies from its bite within a few hours. Snake venom is no less dangerous for horses, so Catherine's fear for her son can be understood.
Once alone with the army of venomous reptiles, Sloterback plucked a three-foot wooden signpost from the ground nearby and began to strike them right and left. It would later turn out that, ironically, a sign reading "Hunting prohibited"was attached to the post.
For two hours, Katherine battled the rattlesnakes until the stream of reptiles around her dried up. The battle was watched by young Ernie, who was still sitting in the saddle in the midst of the undulating sea of snake bodies. The clearing where the fight took place was littered with the corpses of snakes, which turned out to be no less than 140 pieces. Later, the woman told reporters the details of the fight:
After chopping up almost a hundred and fifty snakes, Katherine gathered their bodies in bags and, strapping them to the saddle, brought them to the farm of her friend. The latter, having heard the story of the brave woman, did not believe it at first, but after examining the trophies, he advised her to contact the journalists. That's exactly what Sloterback did.
By the time the press arrived, she had strung the dead reptiles on wires and hung creepy garlands around the house. After the journalists took a series of photos with the prey, Catherine, like a real taxidermist, removed the skin from the snakes and sewed a dress, shoes and a belt from it.
Most impressive of all was the dress made of 53 snake skins. It became so famous that people came hundreds of miles away to see it. Scientists also visited Catherine's house – a professor at the Smithsonian Institution offered $ 2,000 for a spectacular piece, but Catherine refused to sell a one-of-a-kind dress.
The story of Katherine McHale Sloterback thundered across America and was published in the New York Evening Journal. We learned about the brave nurse and overseas-Catherine received letters from fans from France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and the UK.
After becoming famous as a killer of venomous reptiles, Catherine left medicine and founded a rattlesnake farm. She sewed clothes from their skin and made souvenirs, which were in great demand. Katherine Sloterback died on October 6, 1963. A couple of weeks before her death, feeling the end approaching, the woman found the strength to part with a terrible artifact and gave the snake dress as a gift to the city of Greeley, Colorado.
Now a unique piece of clothing is located in the Historical Museum of Greeley, in a specially made display case with a certain level of temperature and humidity.