b. 1865 - d. 1952
Ella Smith, also known as "Bronco Nell", was born in Iowa in 1865. She arrived in Meeteetse, Wyoming, in the spring of 1900 with her husband, 6 to 8 head of work horses, 2 freight wagons and a "cooster". They also had a small bunch of range horses.
Shortly after they arrived, Ella's husband left, leaving her everything plus a small child.
Ella took the name of Nell Smith and acquired a small place at the edge of town where she had barns, a corral and a bunk house.
She started her freight outfit hauling freight from Billings and Red Lodge, Montana, to Cody and on to Casper, Wyoming.
She also hauled freight from the mining town of Kerwin, Wyoming. During her trips she would break out her best horse and thus became referred to as "Bronco Nell."
"Bronco" had some run-ins with the law - selling moonshine (she had her own still) to a couple of Crow Indians and "misbranding" a couple of colts belonging to a neighbor.
She was the last woman to serve time in the Wyoming State Penitentiary. While there, she ran across her old friend Tom O'Day who was serving time for stealing some horses from Governor B.B. Brooks.
"Bronco Nell" died in Meeteetse in 1952, but her legacy lives on through the re-enacting of her life story by Jackie Maple of Cody, Wyoming, - the first Cowgirl Ambassador for Park County, Wyoming.
Jackie is also a direct descendant of Tubercio Vasquez, a famous California bandit. Her grandfather Gabriel Dani was a teamster on the Oregon Trail, making three trips to Salt Lake. Then moving to the Big Sur area of California to homestead in the 1876.
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