When you think of the stereotypical Wild West individual, what comes to mind? Does your mind conjure images of dirty, gruff men as mean as rabid coyotes, spitting large chunks of tobacco into metal spittoons? The type of men who would shoot you over a card game and spend their days riding through the vast Western frontier with a revolver firmly attached to their hip? Well, those men certainly did exist, but not many people remember how many tough women and Wild West heroines made their marks upon history.
Women in the Wild West, of course, were limited by their lack of rights, but that didn't stop a lot of them from rising up and making a name for themselves. A lot of the women on this list saw their destinies laid out before them and proudly pursued them no matter what. Women and westward expansion don't generally get discussed in the same conversations, but there were plenty of women who deserve praise and recognition for their actions.
Given that they had to live in an extremely male-dominated world, a lot of these women's actions are even more admirable. Check out the list below to learn about some cool women from the Wild West who are remembered as some of the hardcore folks in the history of the US.
Annie Oakley, who was born in 1860, will forever be remembered for her otherworldly sharpshooting skills that put almost everyone else (especially overconfident men) to shame. But one of the coolest things about Oakley is her dedication to her family. After her father passed, an eight-year-old Oakley went out with his rifle and started hunting game in order to feed her family.
She was a natural, and from there, her skills only continued to grow. She was able to turn her shooting skills into a full-fledged career, and the money she made showing off her extraordinary talent was enough to support her mother, her six siblings, and still have some left to donate to charity.
She was known to perform amazing shots that nobody else could make, including shooting the end of a cigarette that was in her husband's lips, hitting the edge of a playing card from 30 paces, and even shooting targets while looking into a mirror. She was so renowned that she got to shoot a cigarette out of Kaiser Wilhelm II's mouth. Talk about trust!
After being born into a family of outlaws in approximately 1876, it was only natural that Laura Bullion followed suit. After a tough early life, she eventually joined the Wild Bunch, better known for producing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and rode with the infamous outlaws.
She blazed through the countryside, robbing trains and pulling scams until she was eventually caught. She was said to be tough and stubborn, which eventually earned her the nickname "Thorny Rose."
Her actions may not have been all that admirable, but Pearl Hart's feminist stance spat in the face of the male-dominated Wild West. When she was younger, she was inspired by Annie Oakley and left her children in Canada while she moved to Arizona so she could experience the great outdoors. She started to struggle financially, and it forced her to turn to a life of crime.
When she was arrested, she boldly claimed at her trial that "I shall not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making." It's a statement that became a rallying cry for feminists everywhere.
Bridget "Biddy" Mason started life as an illiterate enslaved person but would soon grow to become a successful entrepreneur and huge contributor to social causes. After winning her freedom in court in 1856, she moved to Los Angeles with her daughters and found employment as a nurse and midwife. She worked for a financially well-off man, and 10 years after earning her freedom, she bought her own land for $250, making her one of the first Black women to own land in Los Angeles.
A very savvy businesswoman, she later sold a part of the land and then built a rental space on the remaining section. Over the years, her fortune started to grow until she had over $300,000 to her name. Instead of keeping all that money to herself, she generously donated to charities and made it her mission to help out the poor and needy.
One of her crowning achievements was helping to establish the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1872, which continued to help people long after she passed.