Painted Ladies Saved the West

Painted Lady Butterflies
Painted Lady Butterflies on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder on Tuesday afternoon. Paul Aiken Staff Photographer September 19, 2017

You may have noticed several or more than usual butterflies on the range this last week or so.
The butterflies that look very much like a Monarch however smaller are actually Painted Ladies.
These butterflies are migrating across the range in large numbers not unlike the painted ladies or soiled doves of the past.
Soiled doves was an old west term used to describe young women “painted ladies” who traveled from western towns and mining camps to service the hundreds of men who were alone, prosperous and mining to get rich.

Not to mention comfort to the Cowboy. Many of the Mining Brothels were tents.
Men out numbered women 100 to 2 during the 1880’s and these women literally had an enterprise of wealth over night.

Many of these women turned cash in excess of $200,000.00 per year.

“Boarding Houses” and Brothels across the range housed these young women and their madam kept them safe and doctored while emptying the pockets of western men.
These Painted Ladies were not only enterprising business and property owners of their time, they also were large contributors to the building of church’s, and in many towns their business license fees built schools, they were nurses and caregivers in epidemics and often treated gun shot wounds in addition to their regular duties.

For additional information I would suggest the book Soiled Doves by Ann Seagraves.

Ann has put together amazing historical information on many of the women who came as prostitutes and built towns.

I think these women had more guts than the cowman or rancher of their day.
They literally worked with what they had.

Just think your town may have been influenced by a woman.  I would love to hear about her.
What would you do to survive?

Dumas Gandy
Gandy, Nebraska

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