Over 3.5 million readers this year!

Today in Wy history: monument to Mother Featherlegs: ‘soiled dove,’ entrepreneur, outlaw

Mother Featherlegs memorial, buried between 2 lovers (Jimmy Emerson, WikiCommons)

CASPER, Wyo — On May 17, 1964, a monument was dedicated 10- miles south of Lusk to Charlotte Shepard, known only by the name “Mother Featherlegs” during her colorful 3 years in Wyoming.

According to the City of Lusk website, Mother Featherlegs came to Wyoming from Louisiana with Dangerous Dick Davis, after the rest of their gang of outlaws was killed, including her sons.

From her cabin south of Lusk, she and Davis played host to outlaws who reputedly planned their robberies and used the site as a stash house. She got the name “Mother Featherlegs” from her red ruffled leggings. A “soiled dove,” prostitution counted among her outlaw services.

In 1879, Mother Featherlegs’s body was discovered by a neighbor, killed by Davis for $1,500 in jewels. Davis admitted to the crime just before being hung for other crimes in Louisiana a few years later, and spoke her real name: Charlotte Shepard.

Her burial site at the cabin’s location is flanked by the graves of two of her lovers.

Residents of the now-abandoned town of Jay Em 15 miles south had been celebrating her legacy, working over 20 years to build a stone church in her honor.

Jim Griffith, Bob Arrow, and Del Burke, decided to build a monument at the site of her old cabin in 1964. It is said to be the only known U.S. monument to a prostitute.

The dedication became a barbeque-fundraiser with 650 in attendance. Funds went toward the construction of the stone church in her honor, completed in 1973.

Legend of Rawhide pageant Mother Featherlegs is portrayed, wearing the famous red pantaloons and the only woman on the wagon train to not be riding side saddle.

The monument reads:

Here lies Mother Featherlegs.
So called, as in her ruffled pantalettes she looked like a feather-legged chicken in a high wind.
She was a roadhouse ma’am
An outlaw confederate
She was murdered by Dangerous Dick Davis ‘The Terapin’ in 1879


  • Town of Lusk website
  • L Hillinger, C. (1973, Feb 25). Church’s ‘angel’ was no lady: Her ‘feathers’ were pantalettes, not wings. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995) 

Note: Some sources list the date of the monument’s dedication as May 17, 1928. Oil City Staff has used the best information available to determine the date as May 17, 1964