Rattlesnake Kate
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Rattlesnake Kate

Rattlesnake Kate got her name from a day when she had to fight off 140 rattlesnakes.
Kate had ridden to a pond with her 3 year old son, Ernie, to gather any wounded ducks from hunters so they could have them for dinner. She had to climb down from her horse to unlock the gate. That is when the first snake appeared.

Kate was a good shot
Kate knew how to ride and to shoot. She was able to take care of herself and her child as a dirt farmer because of those skills. Those skills are also what saved her and her son from the snakes on October 28, 1925.

Kate saw the first snake by the gate and shot it.
The noise brought out 3 more snakes from nearby brush. Kate was able to shoot those snakes, as well. More snakes crawled out and Kate did not want to use all of her bullets so she looked for another weapon to use.

Kate found a No Hunting sign that she was able to use to fight off the snakes.

It took her 2 hours to fight off enough snakes to get back on her horse to ride home.

A neighbor saw her soon after she got home.
She had blisters on her hands and her face was swollen from the heat.
The neighbor went back to the pond with Kate. They picked up the snakes. The battle with the snakes had been a tough one, and they picked up 140 snakes. The snakes were collected in three large washtubs then hung on a line to dry.

The neighbor told other people about Kate's adventure.
Soon reporters came to hear the story from Kate herself. Kate's experience that day made her famous.
Newspapers carried the story all over the world. the story was retold for many years and she was known as the world champion rattlesnake killer. (Even though several others told of similar feats after the Greeley Tribune posted a story about Kate in 1960.)

Kate made a snakeskin dress.
Kate knew how to cure animal skins so they could be kept. (taxidermy) She used over 50 of the skins to make a flapper style dress. You may see the dress on display at the City Museum.
She also used snake skins for a pair of shoes and a neck band.

Kate would wear the dress to many functions. She later kept it inside a trunk where curious family members would sneak peeks at it. She would not allow it to be photographed because she thought it would lessen the dress' value. Three weeks before she died, she left it to the Greeley Museum along with other artifacts related to her rattlesnake legacy.

Centennial Village bought Kate's old farm house.
The museum purchased lumber that was most likely from Kate's old home during the summer of 2002 for $495. The house was in poor shape and needed quite a bit of work to be ready for visitors.

They took pictures of the house, took it apart and numbered the pieces. The pieces were then put back together on the Centennial Village site. The house is a part of the Prairie Section. The house is planned to be left unfurnished so the space can be used for classes.

The house was built by Kate.
She lived in the chicken coop while she was building the house. Kate also took care of her farm alone. She was also known to make "moonshine" in her goat pen. She knew the smell of the goats would cover-up the smell of the still!

Kate later sold rattlesnakes.
She would sell the snake skins for $2 and the rattles for a dollar. She would also collect venom from them to send to scientists in California. She soon got tired of all the work of milking the venom from the snake, so she would just send the heads. The scientists were not interested in the heads. They only wanted the venom.

Kate died October 6, 1969 in Greeley.
She was 75 years old.The Greeley Tribune featured her on the front page a few days after her death.

Kate's family still tell stories about her life.
Eileen Miller-Soltero shared a few family stories and pictures of Kate. Kate once kept a sick goat in her kitchen to keep it warm. There also was a story that happened while Kate was a nurse in WWII. She had to parachute out of a plane and broke her hip. The plane crashed, and everyone still aboard died. No one knows if the plane story is true because Kate liked to add to her legend from time to time.

A Few Facts about Kate.
She was born in a log cabin about 9 miles east of Longmont, Colorado, and her name was Katherine McHale. She went to St. Joseph's School of Nursing. She lived in the Hudson area for more than 50 years. She also lived a few years in El Paso, Texas in the 1940's. She was then known as Kate Garner.

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Rattlesnake Kate

Rattlesnake kate's Home

Picture of Kate Slaughterback wearing her infamous rattlesnake dress many years after the event.

Here is Rattlesnake Kate's old homestead torn apart and housed at Centennial Village.

rattlesnake kate home sign rattlesnake kate's home
Sign outside of Rattlesnake Kate's home Rattlesnake Kate's home
back of Rattlesnake kate's home dress
Back of Rattlesnake Kate's home The dress inside the display case
Kate with skins Kate with 22
Picture of Kate with the skins. This is on display at the new Greeley Museum. Picture of Kate with her 22. This is on display at the new Greeley Museum.
Inside Kate's house stove inside Kate's house
Inside Rattlesnake Kate's house. A younger Kate is shown wearing the dress. Pot belly stove inside Kate's house
Rattlesnake Kate Artifacts Kate's belt
Display of artifacts owned by Kate at the Greeley History Museum. It includes her 22 which she had with her that fateful day. She used it to shoot the first four rattlers. Kate designed and made a lot of her own accessories and clothing. Here is a beaded belt that she made.
Rattlesnake Kate's Dress Rattlesnake Kate's Tombstone
The dress and other items made by Kate after her ordeal. You may see them at the Greeley History Museum (2011). Rattlesnake Kate is buried in the Mizpah Cemetery in Platteville, Colorado. Born July 25, 1893 in Longmont and died October 6, 1969 in Greeley.
Map to Rattlesnake Kates gravesite kate wearing her dress
Rattlesnake Kate's tombstone is located on the west side of the cemetery. It is in the middle of the row. (Click to see larger) Kate wearing her famous dress. (Photo ©Greeley Museums) Picture is full-sized.
A new Rattlesnake Kate video by Tannis Bator for 2009 in front of Kate's house at Centennial Village. Hear other stories about Kate Slaughterback including how she built her house.
Previous Rattlesnake Kate Video
Click on the picture above to see the previous Rattlesnake Kate video. Kate confused her dates a bit in the video, she said the date of the infamous snake killings was on October 25, 1928 when it was October 28, 1925.

Family pictures of Rattlesnake Kate. Click to see larger.
©Eileen Miller Soltero (Permission granted to use in school projects.)

rattlesnake kate with her family rattlesnake kate with her family
Jo Pease, Rattlesnake Kate and Clarabelle Miller Rattlesnake Kate with Jo Pease
Below are several primary source documents about Rattlesnake Kate.
News Story about Rattlesnake kate Rattlesnake Kate's Obituary 1 Rattlesnake kate's obituary 2

Here is an article from a Texas newspaper about Rattlesnake Kate published in 1967. Click to see larger.

Smith, G. A.. The Caldwell News and The Burleson County Ledger (Caldwell, Tex.), Vol. 52, No. 33, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 18, 1937. Caldwell, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth175281/. Accessed December 31, 2012.

Click on the above pages of the Greeley Tribune to see larger pdf files announcing Rattlesnake Kate's death. ©Greeley Tribune October 9, 1969.
Rattlesnake Kate Story in El Paso Paper How Rattlesnake Kate Got Her Name
Story about Kate in the El Paso Paper. ©El Paso Herald April 7, 1949. Click to see larger PDF file of the paper. Article only here Read "How Rattlesnake Kate Got Her Name" illustrated by Kristy Passard online!
PDF of text only about Rattlesnake Kate PDF file of Text and a few pictures about Rattlesnake Kate
Updated August 24, 2013 10:52 AM


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