Underdog of Brown’s Park ‘Colorado’s Cattle Queen’ the newly released story of Ann Basset
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Legends are made when the underdog — the courageous soul who deifies all odds — wins.
Perhaps this is why readers and locals are drawn to the fiery spirit and story of Ann Basset, known as the “Queen of the Cattle Rustlers.”
One of the most colorful characters of the Wild West, Basset led resistance against Ora Haley, a wealthy and powerful cattle baron who used ruthless means to eliminate smaller cattle operations in northeastern Utah and Northwest Colorado.
Bassett’s story was the premise for Linda Womack’s recent book, “Ann Bassett, Colorado’s Cattle Queen,” released in March as the first biography of this tough lady from Brown’s Park.
“Ann was strong-willed, tough and determined. She had to be to live in the man’s world of cattle ranching,” Womack said.
Told through her eyes, via her memoirs, the book chronicles the decades-long cattle rustling feud with her nemesis, Ora Haley, and continues through the deaths of her fiancé, Matt Rash and family friend Isom Dart, who were murdered by gun-for-hire Tom Horn.
As the first biography about Bassett, Womack said she started with Bassett’s birth in historic Brown’s Park and continued her story until her death in 1956. Throughout the narrative, she weaved in her words as well as quotes from others in her life and newspaper articles from that time.
“Ann Bassett has been a favorite subject of mine since college. Her independent nature among men of the 19th century drew me to her,” said Womack, a Colorado author and historian who currently resides in Littleton. “Over the next several years, I worked off and on to find more about her.”
Womack said she spent about 20 years on this book. Research started about 10 years ago in Moffat County, particularly Brown’s Park, Craig and the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Others sources included the Denver Public Library, History Colorado, University of Wyoming Library, Tread of Pioneers Museum and the Vernal, Utah library and museum.
Involved in various history projects state-wide for more than 25 years, Womak has written ten books on Colorado history since 1998, including “From The Grave, A Guide to Colorado Pioneer Cemeteries,” “Our Ladies of the Tenderloin,” “Colorado History for Kids,” “Colorado’s Landmark Hotels,” “Historic Mansions of Colorado,” “Murder in the Mile City,” “Haunted Cripple Creek and Teller County” and “Ann Bassett, Colorado’s Cattle Queen.”
“Ann may have exaggerated some of her exploits over the years, but there is a ring of truth in all of them for Ann never lied,” she said. “Because so much of it is in her own words, the book seemed to write itself at times.”
The book follows Bassett’s life — she was the first white child born in Brown’s Park — then to her adult life taking over the family’s small ranching business to when she single-handedly fought cattle baron Ora Haley from taking her cattle and her ranch.
In Steamboat, the book can be found at the Tread of Pioneers Museum or by visiting lindawommack.com.
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