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Caroline Lockhart, 1920. Photo by F. J. Hiscock.

Caroline Lockhart

Prior to becoming a newspaper writer and after attendance at the "Monrovian Seminary for Young Ladies," Miss Lockhart appeared on the stage and in a lion taming act in a circus. She actually entered the lion's cage the day after the lion killed her predecessor. As a newspaper writer, she donned diving gear to go to the bottom of Boston Harbor and jumped four floors to test the Boston Fire Department safety net. Among her novels were Me-Smith and The Lady Doc.

The Lady Doc in its depiction of the fictional town of "Crowheart" was well received nationally, but in Cody the novel was greeted with a degree of frostiness which might remind one of those clear chilling winds which blow out of the northwest on a January morning. Indeed, Miss Lockhart's books were removed from the shelves in the library. Miss Lockhart responded with a salvo against one of the members of the Library Board. Miss Lockhart wrote that the member was "one of those women who could go anywhere in the world without fear of molestation from the opposite sex."

The general nastiness continued until in 1922 it boiled over into an issue as to the future direction of the Stampede with Lockhart accusing some of wanting to turn it into a Chautaugua.

The characters in Lady Doc were regarded as depictions of well-known Cody residents including George Beck, Daisy Beck, Bronson Rumsey, Jake Schwoob manager of the Cody Trading Company, and the town's physician Dr. Frances Margaret Lane. Dr. Lane had arrived in Cody in 1902 and had a contract with the federal government to provide certain medical services. Later, Dr. Lane would be the Chairman of the Wyoming Branch of the National Woman's Party.

We all enjoy seeing the foibles of the well-known being exaggerated and satirized. That is the essence of a good roast, but The Lady Doc perhaps went too far. No one was safe. Not even Cody's Cowboy Band. Miss Lockhart wrote of the Band as:

* * * a conflict of sounds which resembled the efforts of a Chinese orchestra * * * making superhuman endeavors to march and yet produce a sufficiently correct number of notes from the score of "A Hot Time in the Old Town" to make that American warcry recognizable * * *"


Cody Cowboy Band. Photo by F. J. Hiscock.

If the novel's central villainess, the Lady Doc, Dr. Emma Harpe, was taken to be Dr. Lane, Miss Lockhart wrote with a heavy hand. The central character Dr. Harpe was drawn as an incompetent, greedy money grubbing abortionist, who was forced to leave Nebraska under threat of losing her medical license for killing a patient in a forbidden operation. Dr. Harpe was depicted as one who stole from patients while they were under ether. The efforts of George Beck to bring irrigation to the Basin were unmercifully grilled. Miss Lockhart depicted the prospective purchasers of new farms coming to see "the land 'where the perfumed zephyrs fanned the cheeks of men and brothers!' Coming to breathe 'the Elixir of Life,' while they inspected that portion of the desert which was 'blooming like the rose!'" as arriving in a dust storm:

The committee of prominent citizens met [the train] where the cinder platform had been before it blew off. The excursionists looked through the car-windows to see members of the Cowboy Band with one arm locked around the frame-work of the water-tank and with the other endeavoring to keep divers horns, trombones and flutes in their mouth. No sound reached the ears of the excursionists owing to the fact that they were on the windward side of the band and the stirring notes of "Hot Time in the Old Town" were going the other way. Mr. Symes's [Miss Lockhart's thinly disquised Beck] neat speech of welcome was literally blown out of his mouth * * * .

Wampus Kitty. Photo by F. J. Hiscock.

To needle those who took offense, Miss Lockhart circulated rumors that a movie version of The Lady Doc was to be filmed in Cody. Her earlier novel The Man from Bitter Roots was fimed at the Hargreaves Ranch. Another movie, the Diva Pictures potboiler The Hell Cat starring Geraldine Farrar was also filmed in Cody. Miss Lockhart's description of Crowheart could well have fit the early years many of the towns in the Bighorn Basin:

Crowheart was platted on a sagebrush "bench" on a spur of a branch railroad. The snow-covered peaks of a lofty range rose skyward in the west. To the north was the solitary butte from which the town received its name. To the south was a line of dimpled foothills, while eastward stretched a barren vista of cactus, sand, and sagebrush. A shallow stream flowed between alkali-coated banks on two sides of the town. In the spring when melting mountain snows filled it to overflowing, it ran swift and yellow; but in the late fall and winter it dropped to an inconsequential creek of clear water, hard with alkali. The inevitable " Main Street" was wide and its two business blocks consisted of one-story buildings of log and unpainted pine lumber. There was the inevitable General Merchandise Store with its huge sign on the high front, and the inevitable newspaper which always exists, like the faithful at prayer, where two or three are gathered together. There were saloons in plenty with irrelevant and picturesque names, a dance hall and a blacksmith shop. The most conspicuous and pretentious building in Crowheart was the Terriberry House, bilious in color and Spartan in its architecture, located in the centre of Main Street on a corner. The houses as yet were chiefly tar-paper shacks or floored and partially boarded tents, but the sound of the saw and the hammer was heard week-days and Sundays so no one could doubt but that it was only a question of time when Crowheart would be comfortably housed. There was nothing distinctive about Crowheart; it had its prototype in a thousand towns between Peace River and the Eio Grande; it was typical of the settlements which are springing up every year along the lines of those railroads that are stretching their tentacles over the Far West.

In 1919, Miss Lockhart assumed ownership of the Park County Enterprise, which she renamed the The Cody Enterprise. During her ownership of the paper, she voiced in typically colorful manner her opposition to Prohibition. Miss Lockhart's personal distillery is on display in a local museum. Her "gorgeous and glowing speech" was cited by H. L. Mencken in his 1921 The American Language. The newspaper was also used to voice Miss Lockhart's opposition to the plan of the Montana Fish and Game Department to exterminate the bobcat. At the newspaper, the office cat was a lynx named "Wampus Kitty." The cat is immortalized as the name of a room in a local bed and breakfast. In 1925, Miss Lockhart sold the paper, later writing of the passing of the editorship:

Out of a vast experience with burglars, blacksmiths, ignoramuses, and imbecilles, whom we have hired under the misapprehension that they were editors, printers or machine operators, we feel we are qualified to judge. So taking the office cat...(actually a pet lynx), we handed him the key and may God have mercy on his soul."

Both the newspaper and the Stampede continue today. The tradition of colorful writing in the Enterprise continues with the columns of Doug Blough, "If I Were Running This Town," and Carole Cloudwalker, "Postcards from the High Ground," both of which this writer must confess to occasionally reading. Recently [October 2003], Blough wrote of his hitting the parked car of a local circuit judge as "the sickening, metal-on-metal raking of 1978 Ford truck groping 2002 Honda Accord. (These May/December romances often turn tragic.)" Blough attributed his hitting the circuit judge's vehicle to an absence of drink.


Cody, 1906

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