Frontier Women Marshall Trimble True West Magazine

Did frontier women own property during the Old West era?

Patrick Powell
Boston, Massachusetts

Yes, many frontier women owned land and property. A top example: Nellie Cashman, Arizona’s Angel of Tombstone, who owned and ran hotels and restaurants in various towns.

The West provided a font of opportunity for free-spirited women. They ran the gamut of characters from wild and woolly to the stalwart, calico-clad women who made history along with the men. Their stories are of humor, romance, poignancy, hardship, tragedy and triumph.

The East was far more conservative and suppressed, which is why the West attracted a legion of mavericks, loners, adventurers and non-conformists. These ladies straddled horses, wore pants and divided skirts, drove teams, prospected for gold, proved up on homesteads, ranched and did a host of other jobs usually reserved for men. Their behavior shocked Eastern sisters.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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