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The Women Who Rocked Cody’s World

March 7th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Comments (2)

March is a significant month. It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and about mid-month, the entire population of Cody, Wyoming, like the rest of the country, discovers its Irish ancestry, develops a craving for corned beef and rediscovers the verdant clothing items in the back of their closets. March is also the month when certain segments of the population celebrate Extraterrestrial Abductions Day (March 20), Ear Muff Day (March 13) and National Goof Off Day (March 22).

While I’m all for goofing off while eating gooey Reubens, adjusting my head gear and watching the skies for spaceships, the main reason I find the month so significant is because it is also National Women’s History Month. Being a woman with a history myself, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Women have played a huge role throughout the 121-year history of Cody, and there are countless examples women of the city who helped soften a fledgling frontier town’s rough edges and improved its cultural and artistic bonafides. Here are a few of those women:

Nancy-Carroll Draper was a dedicated benefactor and supporter of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and she played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Draper Museum of Natural History. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Draper is the 100-year-old Center’s newest museum. Draper believed that the Center could and should integrate the natural sciences with humanities to provide visitors to the museum with a broader perspective on the American West.

Heart Mountain internee Estelle Ishigo

Estelle Ishigo was a Caucasian woman who chose to remain at her Japanese-American husband’s side when Americans of Japanese heritage were forced into internment camps like Heart Mountain during World War II.

Estelle Ishigo was a Caucasian woman who chose to remain at her Japanese-American husband’s side when he was imprisoned at the Heart Mountain Confinement Site during World War II. The camp was one of ten throughout the West where 120,000 incarcerated men, women and children were imprisoned post-Pearl Harbor after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 depriving Americans of Japanese descent of their liberty. A talented artist, Ishigo chronicled the day-to-day lives of the 14,000 camp residents with sketches, drawings and watercolors depicting the brutal conditions of the camp and camp life.

A painting depicting two children playing by a barbed wire fence by artist Estelle Ishigo.

A talented artist, Ishigo’s paintings captured the brutal conditions and everyday life of the men, women and children imprisoned at the camp.

Cassie Waters might have been the CEO of any major company today or at least the president of the Chamber of Commerce, but in 1912 when options were more limited, she founded one of the town’s most successful houses of prostitution. Although many in the town frowned upon the establishment, they appreciated her generosity when it came time for contributions for schools and charitable organizations.

Caroline Lockhart and Bill Cody pose for a picture on horseback.

Caroline Lockhart persuaded New York sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to create a masterpiece for the Buffalo Bill Museum. The inscrutable Lockhart, pictured on horseback with Buffalo Bill Cody, was a best-selling novelist with ties to high society.

Caroline Lockhart was the editor and publisher of the Cody Enterprise as well as a best-selling novelist with a penchant for fraternizing with Hollywood and society types. One of those was Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a famed sculptress. It was Lockhart who persuaded Vanderbilt Whitney to create “The Scout,” the regal sculpture of Buffalo Bill Cody that greets visitors to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Gertrude Vanderbilt poses with "The Scout"—a sculpture of Bill Cody on horseback.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney is pictured in her studio with “The Scout” before the sculpture was shipped to Cody.

Mary Jester Allen was Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, and she also played an important and lasting role in the history of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Thanks to her tireless cajoling, nagging and elegant persuasion, numerous members of the Cody family supported the establishment of the museum by donating their personal Buffalo Bill objects.

Philanthropist Nancy-Carroll Draper.

Nancy-Carroll Draper was a dedicated philanthropist who played a pivotal role in the creation of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Draper Museum of Natural History, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

These are just a few of the many skillful, relentless women who helped make our town what it is today. To all of them and to the thousands of unrecognized women who work to make the world a better place, I say “thank you.”

Until next time, I’m celebrating my history and loving life here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.


Comments:

Randy Kelley (March 7, 2017)

Absolutely one of our favorite places to visit. We seriously wanted to relocate to Cody but sadly health concerns interfered. It is in our plans to visit again soon. The people, the history, the hospitality and the charm and beauty of God’s perfection is what makes Cody, the wapiti Valley and the entire area a wonder

> Reply
theadmin (March 10, 2017)

Thank you so much for your kind words Randy! We completely agree with you; the people, history, hospitality, charm and beauty are truly what make this area so great! We hope to see you again soon!


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