The Story of the First Texas Female CowboysBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-story-of-the-first-texas-female-cowboys
After the American Civil War, more and more locals went West in search of a new life. For almost 30 years, from the 1840s to the late 1860s, the largest migration in the country's history took place. Many women adapted to the harsh conditions — they started doing men's work, shot guns and skillfully rode horses. In the same era, the so-called cowgirls (cowgirls), female cowboys, appeared.
She described cowgirls, aka cowgirls or cowgirls, who began appearing in Texas back in the 19th century. After the Civil War and large-scale migration, life in the United States changed dramatically. Many went to the West in search of new horizons.
The Estates Act of 1860 prescribed that 160 acres of land in the west could be claimed by both men and women if they were 21 years old and unmarried. While in the east most women lived within the traditional rules of society, women in the west were forced to adapt to harsh conditions.
Many began to take on housework, which previously was performed only by men, they learned to shoot a gun, and ride horses. Their wardrobe also began to change — although most remained in skirts, some began to wear pants. Many of them became owners of their own ranches, started cattle and horses.
Some women even pretended to be men in order to live like cowboys. In 1867, Jo Monaghan traveled west on her own from Buffalo, New York. She settled on a ranch in Idaho, and continued to hide her true identity, using such male privileges as the right to vote. It was only after her death in 1904 that it became clear that she was pretending to be a man.
Such women often faced suspicion and harsh condemnation from other people and neighbors. This was the fate of Ellen Watson, a Wyoming rancher-neighbors accused her of cattle theft in 1889. Local cattle ranchers, who were jealous of her large land, killed her before she could defend herself in court. It was later proven that Ellen was innocent.
In the late 1880s, many ranchers (and owners) failed. In the north, overgrazing required more clearing of pastures, which led to insufficient winter fodder for livestock and starvation, especially during the harsh winter of 1886-1887.
Then hundreds of thousands of cattle died, which led to the collapse of the cattle industry. By the 1890s, barbed wire fencing had become mandatory to prevent overgrazing.
Soon after that, the era of open pastures and long cattle runs passed — large meat processing plants were built next to the pastures. In the 1900s, a new kind of female cowboys appeared - rodeo participants.
At first, women participated in such competitions unofficially, and then the famous showman Buffalo Bill invited them to participate in his "Wild West Shows". Many ladies then began to engage in rodeo professionally — and they even managed to surpass men at times. One of these cowgirls was Fenny Sperry Steele. However, in 1925, women were banned from participating in rodeos.