26 – Ann Bassett: Queen Of The Cattle Rustlers

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

Considered one of the first white children born in Northwest Colorado, and wet-nursed by a local Ute Indian tribe, it almost seems “Queen” Ann Bassett was destined to go down as one of the most colorful figures in western history.
Born in 1878 in Brown’s Park, Colorado, Ann was born into an area, and an era, in which she thrived. Brown’s Park in the late 1800s was a direct stop on the Outlaw Trail and Ann grew up acquainted with many of the infamous outlaws of the day. In fact, Ann was even rumored to be the mysterious “Etta Place” who escaped the U.S. with both Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid never to be seen again. However, it is certain that Ann and Etta were not one in the same.
Ann was considered an attractive, free-spirited, educated and intelligent lady. She was also considered by many to be high-strung, self-absorbed and bull-headed. In 1900, Ann’s purported fiancé, Mat Rash, was killed by the famous gun-for-hire Tom Horn. Tom was contracted by the large cattle barons (notably Ora Haley of the Two Bar) to kill suspected cattle rustlers in the area. Mat’s death gave Ann a passionate cause: make the large cattle operations regret grazing their cattle anywhere near Brown’s Park.
She indeed became a thorn in the side of Ora Haley. Over the following decade, numerous Two Bar cattle were suspected to have succumbed to Ann Basset. Ann also succeeded in wooing and marrying Ora’s ranch foreman and essential right-hand-man, Hi Bernard – he was fired not long after.
Though tried in court twice (and acquitted), before her death in 1956 she referred to her accusations as “those elaborate tournaments where men enjoyed the pastime sport of having me arrested and dragged through the courts for various alleged crimes against the lordly Two-Bar – many of which I was as guilty as hell!”.
Pictured here are Ann Bassett’s spurs made by well-known maker J.R. McChesney. They were given by Ann to Edna Bassett Haworth, Ann’s niece. They were eventually donated to the Museum of Northwest Colorado by Bill Haworth, Edna’s son and Ann’s great-nephew.