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Author Topic: The Johnson County War  (Read 1478 times)
dave jenkins
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« on: September 14, 2006, 10:30:52 AM »

"In Spaghetti Westerns, Christopher Frayling notes references in Once Upon a Time in the West to the prehistory of the Johnson County War: they lynching of Jim Averell and Cattle Kate or Ella Watson. The name of McBain's town, Sweetwater, alludes to Sweetwater Valley, Carbon County, Wyoming, where the lynching of Averell and Watson took place. In the movie Heaven's Gate, Sweetwater becomes the name of the town at the center of the Johnson County War. Though Frayling suggests that Watson was only mistaken for Cattle Kate, the scholarship on this incident . . . suggests that Watson, whether she was or was not known as Cattle Kate, was murdered for her land. Jim Averell was murdered for challenging the dominant property interests in the region. The actual technique of their lynching, at least as Frayling reports it, bears some resemblance to the lynching of Harmonica's brother. One rope was thrown over the branch of a tree and the two ends tied around the necks of Averell and Watson so that, in effect, when the wagon on which they were standing pulled off, the weight of one was used to bring about the death of the other (Frayling 1981: 125-6). The conflict between the railroad magnate and the small property holder like Brett McBain further echoes the events of the Johnson County War; and the name of Frank probably alludes to the notorious Frank Canton, the former sheriff of Johnson County, who, though a small cattleman himself, became a detective for the WSGA, participated in the Johnson County War, and was suspected of several murders and attempted murders (Canton 1966, Smith 1966, DeArment 1996)."

--Patrick McGee, From Shane to Kill Bill: Rethinking the Western (187).


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