Colorado Bad Girls:
The Best of the Worst

Only a few Colorado bad girls show up in the state’s history.  Swindlers, murderers, and cattle rustlers, these women could be as lawless as men.


The new west attracted women who were different from the normal wife, mother, sister.  They had a mind of their own and wanted to be left alone to pursue their own destiny.

These women were the loners, mavericks and eccentrics of the families they left back east.  Many found they could start a business and make a living.

Others decided that the best way to get along was do engage in nefarious deeds.  One such famous female outlaw was Belle Starr, who was a cattle rustler in the Oklahoma territory.  She died in a shootout in 1889.


Pearl Hart was known as the last of the road agents in Arizona and was captured and jailed for robbing a stage. 

However, our Colorado “ladies” were even more dastardly that cattle rustlers or stagecoach robbers.  Not as famous perhaps, but definitely not nice.


"mug" shots of Colorado's female lawbreakers, photo courtesy of Time Life Books


Denver policeman, Sam Howe joined the force in 1880 and had been the arresting officer in three of the most notorious bad women of the time.

Georgiana Shorthouse, (top photo) whose alias’ were Madame Astle and Madam Lovell, received three years in jail for performing an illegal abortion.


Nina Patchen, dressed as a man in the center photo, was charged with murder and after a lengthy trial, was acquitted of the crime.

Jessie Wyatt, bottom photo, was captured and jailed for killing a cab driver, known as a hack driver.  A trial ensued and a verdict of justifiable homicide was given.  She was released.

Bad girls have been around for centuries.  However, the romance of the Colorado territory and the west brought out the worst in a few of the women who migrated to the unknown territory.



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