Historical Details

Old Mother FeatherLegs, Ike Diapert and George McFadden Share Lonely Grave Along the Trail, South of Lusk Monument

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/28/1936

On the way out to the Ord ranch, about 14 miles south of Lusk, on the southern slope of what the old-timers call "The Demmon Hill," is a pile of rocks - a little off to the east of the road-sagebrush and cactus flourishing undisturbed in the crevices -a convenient lookout for the chattering chipmunks and burrowing owls, chief inhabitants of that particular section.

To the newcomer or the uninitiated, this is just another pile of rocks. But to the old-timer who knows the history of this country, it is the last resting place of "Old Mother Featherlegs," one of the last of the colorful Western characters who made history in the days of the free and open range.

In company with Russell Thorpe, the writer visited the grace one Sunday afternoon last summer. Because the road had changed somewhat, Russell had some difficulty in locating the grave, but we finally found it, alongside the old trail.

"Old Mother Featherlegs" acquired her name due to the fact that she wore long red pantalettes, which were very much in evidence, especially when she rode horseback. The cowboys and range hands could spot "Old Mother Featherlegs" a mile or so away when she rode horseback, because they could see the red pantalettes glinting in the sunlight, reminding them of all the feathers on an Indian's warbonnet.

This turbulent character conducted a sort of a road ranch, which was located almost on the exact spot where she lies buried, alongside the Cheyenne & Black Hills trail. She was a bad character who stood in with road agents and other depredations. These highwaymen usually gave her large sums of money and jewelry, knowing that she would safely keep the plunder until it could be disposed of without fear of detection.

"Old Mother Featherlegs" did quite a flourishing business at her little resort, and it became known that she had immense sums of money and jewelry about the place.

As there were no other women in the country at the time, Mrs. O. J. Demmon (mother of Mrs. Lillie Saffell and Mrs. Hope Montague of Lusk) who, with her husband operated the Silver Springs horse ranch, a few miles distant, one afternoon drove over to see "Old Mother Featherlegs"-merely to satisfy the craving of a lonesome woman to fraternize with one of her own sex, no matter what her social station.

Arriving at the Featherlegs road ranch, Mrs. Demmon was horrified to find that the woman had been murdered and had apparently been dead for two or three days. This was in the year 1879.

Without a doubt, she had been killed by a man named Thompson, who evidently murdered her for her money. The murderer skipped the country with a small fortune in money and jewelry which he had found secreted about the place, and was never captured.

But under that pile of rocks to the left of the road sleep others beside "Old Mother Featherlegs.

Side by side with the mortal remains of this turbulent woman sleeps George McFadden, who was killed by Frank Ketchum near a a dugout on Igoe Creek, not far from the Ord ranch. Frank Ketchum, the murderer, was a telegraph operator originally stationed at the Rawhide Buttes stage station, now known as the J. W. Agnew ranch. Later he was the first telegraph operator at Silver Cliff, where the first town was started before the town of Lusk was platted.

Mother Featherlegs and George McFadden also share their lonely grave with another turbulent Western character Ike Diapert, who supposedly committed suicide. "Cousin Ike Diapert," as he was known by the cowpunchers, was a roundup cook and was jealous of some of the miners who came from Muskrat Canyon to call on Mrs. Stiffler, who was located on the ranch later operated by Mrs. Mary Bare. "Cousin Ike" always carried two small bottles, one containing flour and the other strychnine. It was thought by some that he was making a bluff and made the fatal mistake of taking the strychnine instead of the flour.

McFadden and Diapert were bitter enemies, so it was though fitting and proper that they should be buried with "Mother Featherlegs" in between them.

So beneath that pile of rocks on the southern slope of the Demmon Hill, side by side in the
lonely unmarked grave, repose the mortal remains of these three frontier characters, awaiting the sound of Gabriel's trumpet, which will summon the just and unjust to the bar of judgement.

By J. B. Griffith, Herald Editor
Golden Jubilee Edition

Images & Attachments

Mother FeatherLegs Shepard Monument
Mother FeatherLegs Shepard Monument
Mother FeatherLegs Monument
Mother FeatherLegs Monument

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Bare, Mary (10/20/1858 - 12/10/1930) View Record
Obituary Thorp, Russell (07/23/1877 - 10/26/1968) View Record
Obituary Thorp, Russell (08/07/1927 - 10/27/1977) View Record
Obituary Saffell, Lillie (09/02/1876 - 10/15/1936) View Record
Obituary Thorp, Russell (10/22/1844 - 09/03/1898) View Record