Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 1889: James Averill and Kate Maxwell

The following article comes from The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) dated July 23, 1889:


They Stole Cattle From the Ranges,

And the Wyoming Cow-Boys Put Them Out of the Way.

Postmaster Averill and Kate Maxwell, the Cattle Queen,

Kate Goes to Her Final Account Cursing Like a Trooper,

But Her Partner Whines and Begs To Be Allowed to Name His Successor in the Post-Office

CHEYENNE, Wy., July 22.—James Averill and the notorious Cattle Queen, Kate Maxwell, were lynched by cow-boys last night.  The bodies of the "Rustler" and Range Queen dangled from the same limb of a big cottonwood this morning.  The scene of the lawless but justifiable deed of the midnight riders is on the Sweetwater River, in Carbon County, near Independence Rock, a landmark made historical during the rush overland to the California gold fields.  Averill was Postmaster at Sweetwater.  Kate Maxwell was the heroine of a sensational story which appeared in the newspapers throughout the country three months ago, when she raided a gambling house and recovered a large sum of money won from her employes [sic].

Stockmen of the Sweetwater region have been the victims of cattle thieves for years.  On account of prejudice against the large outfits it has been impossible to convict on this charge, and the "rustlers" have become very bold.  Averill and his remarkable partner have been


The woman could hold her own on the range, riding like a demon, shooting on the slightest pretext, and handling the lariat and branding-iron with the skill of the most expert vaquero.  Fifty freshly-branded yearling steers were counted in the Averill & Maxwell herds Saturday morning.  A stock detective whose suspicions were aroused was driven from this place when he was noticed viewing the stolen property.  The circumstance was reported to the ranchmen, who determined to rid the country of the desperate pair.

Averill and the woman have several times been ordered to emigrate or cease appropriating mavericks, but had disregarded all warnings.  After her celebrated gambling-house escapade Mrs. Maxwell degenerated from a picturesque Western character into a reckless prairie virago of loose morals, and lost most of her following, but continued partnership with the Postmaster.  Word was passed along the river, and fifteen to twenty men gathered at a designated place and galloped to the cabin of Averill and Cattle Kate without unnecessary noise.


And a peep through a window disclosed the thieves and a boy in their employ sitting beside a rude fire-place smoking cigarettes.  As half a dozen men rushed into the room a Winchester was poked through each window and a command to throw up their hands given with unmistakable earnestness.  The trio sprang for their weapons, but were quickly overpowered.  Averill begged and whined, protesting his innocence.  Kate cursed.  Her execration of the lynchers was something terrible in its way.  She cursed everything, and repeatedly challenged the Deity to harm her if He possessed the power.  An attempt was made to gag her, but


That this was abandoned.  She called for her own horse to ride to the tree selected for a scaffold, and vaulted astride the animal's back from the ground.  Averill did not resist, and the boy, who had been told that he would not be harmed, followed.  Either end of the same rope was fastened about the necks of the Rustlers as they sat in their saddles.  The boy made a pass with a knife at the man who was preparing Kate for hanging.  He was knocked insensible from a blow with the butt of a revolver.  The boy was a nephew of the Bandit Queen.  When preparations for the execution had been completed Averill and the woman were asked to speak.  The man spoke only of his office, saying that he did not wish a certain man to be his successor.  He was promised the influence of the party for another candidate.


She wished the affair kept as quiet as possible, desiring that her mother be kept in ignorance of her disgraceful career and tragic death.  It was useless to deny that their herd had been stolen from the ranchmen in the section, but if they did not wish to divide it among themselves she would like to have it sold and the money given to a home for wayward girls.  Kate bade her nephew good-by and commenced to deliver a blasphemous harangue.  The horses were led from under the pair while


Both kicked in a lively style for ten or fifteen minutes.  A few bullets were fired into Averill's body, and the lynchers rode away.  It is doubtful if an inquest will be held.  The executions [sic] have no fear of being punished.  The cattlemen have been forced to this.  More hangings will follow unless there is less thieving.  

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