Josie Bassett: frontier woman, outlaw, badass

Danielle Vincent

Posted on July 08 2015


In my research on Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch for the limited edition soap release, ahem, tomorrow, I found out about Josie Bassett, January 17, 1874 – May 1, 1964 (which means she was born 100 years and 363 days before I was, if my math is correct). Josie was amazing because...
  • she was one of the famed "Bassett Sisters" who helped out the Wild Bunch frequently (and was romantically involved with them off and on)
  • her and her sister's association with many famous (and deadly) outlaws meant neighboring ranchers trying to run the ladies off their land couldn't hire anyone to do their dirty work, and even the local police wouldn't convict them of various crimes of which they were accused (mostly rustling)
  • Josie was one of five women allowed at the "Robber's Roost"
  • she was married five times. Four ended in divorce, which was not common at the time (rumor says she even ran one off with a frying pan), and one ended when he died of alcoholism (or maybe poison)
  • her hospitality and kindness was legendary, and she invited everyone (even law enforcement) in for tea and biscuits.
  • during the Great Depression, she took care of families in need, killing off and selling her own cattle. At one point, she camped out in her own yard so a family could use her cabin.
  • she made her own SOAP (and clothes and pretty much everything else)
  • the cabin where she lived until she died (in 1964) had no running water or electricity
  • during Prohibition (and after), she ran a small bootleg whiskey and brandy distilling business for cash, even though she didn't drink
  • since skirts were troublesome, she wore pants. since long hair got caught in brambles and stuff, she cut it all off.
  • you can visit her cabin at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.
  • she lived until she was 90.

I love reading about these characters. She seems like she was a real neat person.

More photos hopefully coming soon as I find out if they are in the public domain.

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