When vigilantes lynched Ella Watson and James Averell on July 20, 1889, in Wyoming Territory, they excused themselves by renaming her “Cattle Kate” and rebranding him as her “pimp.”
For a century, history bought the lies that the lynchers went free because this was “rangeland justice” and they deserved what they got because they were dirty cattle thieves and filthy people—she was a whore and he ran a “hog ranch” with multiple prostitutes.
But when the reality stick hits, we find that James Averell was one of the most successful and respected settlers in the Territory at the time. James Averell was named postmaster of the Sweetwater Valley by President Grover Cleveland on June 29, 1886. He was named a notary public by Territorial Governor Thomas Moonlight in January of 1887, and was named a justice of the peace by the Carbon County Board of Supervisors on March 6, 1889. On July 8, 1889—12 days before the lynching—Averell’s roadhouse was the Sweetwater Polling Place for a special election to chose delegates to the Wyoming Constitutional Convention—a prelude to statehood. Averell was one of three election judges. So much for being a pimp!