Short History of Ruthie West

Posted by Allison Smith

Ruthie West's birth was undocumented.  She was born in the 1850's on a stretch of land located about 60 miles west of the iconic town, Tombstone, Arizona.  Nothing much is known of her childhood.  She is expected to have been a free spirited child because her mother worked and she had no father.  West would swim in rivers, roll down hills, and always had straw hanging out of her mouth.

            At a young age she was put to work as a saloon girl at the same bar her mother worked at.  Nothing is known about her at this time.

            Once she entered her twenties, West cut off all her hair, stole a black horse and ran up into the mountains. Shortly after she ran away, the saloon she worked at was burned down.  West's mother was trapped inside and died during the fire.  It is questionable as to if West started the fire.

            West spent the rest of her life on the run.  She would wake up on cold mornings, alone in the mountains.  She never slept in the same place twice.  The first thing West would do is rub ash under her eyes left from last night's fire and then light a cigarette.   She traveled on her horse, Bumpy, and never carried any belongings.

            Often, West would travel through towns under the name Richard King, after a man she believed to be her father.  The fact was never confirmed.  West and King both died without ever meeting each other.

            West soon gave up trying to pretend to be a man.  Her breasts were far too big for other men not to notice. She was raped constantly during the first year after she ran away.

            West befriended the famous bandit, Belle Star, who showed her the ropes on being a cowgirl.  Star was the only person to truly know West.

            Cattle rancher and gunfighter, Clay Allison, was in love with West from 1874-87. They met during a shoot out in a bar on the boarder of Arizona and New Mexico. They met again two years later during a camp raid. Three years later Allison proposed to West. West denied.

            West died alone in 1886 on a mountain covered in snow. 

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