The Great Western and the Biggest Leg in Mexico

Illustration by Bob Boze Bell
Illustration by Bob Boze Bell

At six feet two and 200 pounds, red-headed camp follower Sarah Bowman was nicknamed the “Great Western,” after the largest steamship afloat in the 1830s. During the Mexican War, when told U.S. Army regulations required that a woman couldn’t travel with the troops unless she was married to one, she rode a donkey down the line shouting, “Who wants a wife with $15,000 and the biggest leg in Mexico?” Four husbands later, she died in Yuma of a spider bite in 1866; in 1890, her very large bones were removed to the Presidio
of San Francisco in California.

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Bob Boze Bell

In 1999, Bob Boze Bell and partners bought True West magazine (published since 1953) and moved the editorial offices to Cave Creek, Arizona. Bell has published and illustrated books on Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, as well as Classic Gunfights, an Old West gunfight book series. His latest books are The 66 Kid and True West Moments.