Untameable Shrew

Kit Carson was a widower with a small daughter, Adaline, to care for when his Arapaho wife, Waa-nibe, died. The only thing he could do was to acquire another wife. Little is known about their courtship or the negotiations with her family but, nonetheless, Making-Out-Road, Cheyenne, became his second wife. He was her first husband. Because Cheyenne women typically didn’t marry until their mid-20s, she was hardly a child bride. Carson could then return to his usual ways of being gone on expeditions most of the time. After little more than a year of marriage and a lot of violent quarrels with this mostly-gone mountain man, she divorced him according to Cheyenne customs. On the day he returned from one of his trips, she pitched his belongings, including Adaline, outside their tent. An alternative version of this story is that Carson escaped rather than being thrown out. He complained that she wanted too many “fafurraws.”

Not long after that, she married Flat Head and then Wolf Man, and divorced both of these Cheyenne men. She wasn’t married to either of them very long, just long enough to make a pair of twin boys, a girl and another boy. About that time a Charles Rath was in need of a wife.

Rath surmised that there were two ways to get along with the Indians: sell them liquor or marry into their tribe. He chose the latter course and married Owl Woman. After her death came her sister, Yellow Woman. When she died, he looked toward Making-Out-Road, perhaps because, when she was younger, she was vivacious and turned heads. Once her male relatives found the gifts Rath offered to be acceptable, the two were married. They soon had a daughter. Because Roadmaker, as Rath called this wife, had been considered the Belle of the Cheyenne, he called his daughter Cheyenne Belle. When Belle was about two years old, Rath left never to return. Cheyenne Belle would grow up to be the mother of the Balenti brothers mentioned in an earlier blog.

Charlie Rath presumed that Making-Out-Road meant that his bride was a good tracker. Some others thought it had a more contemporary meaning, such as my way or the highway or hit the road, Jack.

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3 Responses to “Untameable Shrew”

  1. Barbara Berry Says:

    That’s my granny for ya!

  2. Leila Says:

    Owl Woman and Yellow Woman were the wives of William Bent, not Charles Rath. See George Bent’s memoir, edited by George Hyde.

    cheers, Leila

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