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A Swallow Press Book

The Bassett Women

By Grace McClure

“The Bassett home gave refuge to a veritable who’s who of western outlaws, among them Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Elzy Lay, Matt Warner, and many lesser rustlers… What makes the book so delectable are the lovingly detailed scandals involving Brown’s Park pioneers.”

True West

“(A)s fine an account of the Bassetts as we are likely to get.”

Sandra Dallas, Denver Post

“In a sense this book is more than a sketch of three women; it is a biography of a family with all its rivalries, foibles, failures and loyalties. It is also an account of remarkable courage, stamina and adaptability on the raw frontier of the western slope. Read and enjoy it as popular history.”

Mary Lee Spence, The Pacific Historian

“One of the most fascinating parts of the book must be the appendix, ‘Confidentially Told,’ which consists of a manuscript written by Ann Bassett and Frank Willis. This covers in detail the killing of Valentine Hoy by Harry Tracy, and tells of Charley Crouse’s activities as a rustler and his association with the outlaws.”

Roy O'Dell, English Westerners' Society Tally Sheet

In the late nineteenth century, Brown’s Park, a secluded valley astride the Utah-Colorado border, was a troubled land of deadly conflict among cattle barons, outlaws, rustlers, and small ranchers. Homesteader Elizabeth Bassett gained a tough reputation of her own, and her daughters followed suit, going on to become members of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch’s inner circle. Ann—who counted Cassidy among her lovers—became known as “queen of the cattle rustlers.” Both sisters proved themselves shrewd businesswomen as they fended off hostile takeovers of the family ranch. Through the following decades, the sisters became the stuff of legend, women who embodied the West’s fearsome reputation, yet whose lived experiences were far more nuanced. Ann became a writer. Josie, whose cabin still stands at present-day Dinosaur National Monument, applied her pioneer ethics to a mechanized world and became renowned for her resourcefulness, steadfastness, and audacity.

For The Bassett Women, Grace McClure tracked down and untangled the legends of Brown’s Park, one of the way stations of the fabled “Outlaw Trail,” while creating an evenhanded and indelible portrait of the Bassetts. Based on interviews, written records, newspapers, and archives, The Bassett Women is one of the few credible accounts of early settlers on Colorado’s western slope, one of the last strongholds of the Old West.

Grace McClure was a freelance writer based in Tucson, Arizona.   More info →

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Retail price: $18.95, T.
Release date: August 1985
26 illus. · 247 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World


Release date: May 2019
26 illus. · 247 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for The Bassett Women

"McClure’s book is more than a biography of the Bassetts, valuable though this is. It is a well-documented chronicle of that unyielding country on the Green, with characters such as Tom Horn and Butch Cassidy playing significant roles, and murder and violence always a threat to even the most law-abiding rancher.”

John Willard, Hoofprints

"Grace McClure not only knows her principal subjects; she also understands the setting in which they lived. This is made apparent by the information she so artfully sets within her narrative. The book is complete with details about ranching, cattle, range lands, the forests, the rivers, and the geography of the area.“

Milton C. Abrams, Utah Historical Quarterly

“Grace McClure has sorted through the haze, sifted the facts and the fictions to produce a balanced, even-handed account of the women. Faults are discussed, but not dwelt on; strengths are examined, but not exaggerated…. (The Bassett Women) is a story that bridges the gap from Old West to modern times.”

Deseret News

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