Caroline Lockhart, Proposal

Caroline Lockhart, Historical Figure, Cody, Wyoming

Possible depiction 1898 -1914 (character age 21-42)

This page is for a project proposal for a potential customer, for use in discussion.  It is a gathering of information, as the date & depiction of the character has not yet been determined.

Ms Lockhart was born in 1871 in conflicting stories regarding her birth either in a brothel in Boston, or on a farm in Illinois.  The story is consistent that she lived in both Philadelphia and Boston, and then moved to Cody, Wyoming in 1904 following a man.

She was an investigative reporter in her early career, where her success she attributed to actually living the experiences she wrote about.  After her Wyoming move, she wrote fact-based fiction, with characters close to real life, including Buffalo Bill Cody with whom she developed a friendship.  She became quite famous with several full novels, two of which were produced in Hollywood as movies.

Her time in Cody had her owning the “Cody Enterprise” newspaper, organizing and running the “Cody Stampede”, a premiere rodeo with related events, and other civic services.  In 1920 she defied prohibition and continued to drink alcohol.  She had many boyfriends throughout her life, but never married nor had children. Some of her behavior was criticized socially, but she was able to continue a successful career as reporter and writer most of her life because of her hands on process of experiencing what she wrote about.

Lockhart later retired to a 160 acre ranch in the Pryor Mountains north and east of Cody, until it was a 7000 acre ranch.  The ranch remains today as a national landmark.

Actual photos of Lockhart and her ranch follow:

Lockhart about 1891
Lockhart about 1910
Lockhart about 1920
Lockhart about 1904
Lockhart date unable to identify
Lockhart Ranch in northern Wyoming today
Lockhart visits a homesteading neighbor in about 1927
The Lockhart ranch in the mid 1920’s
Lockhart buys her ranch in 1926
Cody, Wyoming in 1897
Old Trail Town museum, Cody, Wyoming

Observations after quick historical study of Ms. Lockhart:

High Fashion:

  • Ms. Lockhart appeared to like to wear current fashion.  Early photos which appear to be around age 20 show her in homemade gowns made in the most current Edwardian fashion
  • Her formulative years, whether in a brother or working on the east coast, exposed her to high fashion
  • Both occupations (brother and reporting) would have exposed her to high fashion, or people wearing or simulating it
  • This idea is reinforced in that she’s wearing the long corset of the 1890’s in her early photos, and the very stylish and restricting “S” “Monobosum” corset into her age 30’s, even in her ranch wear.  Her posture in the image with the blouse and tie especially features this, as her weight is thrown off center consistent with high fashion of the day

Western Comfort:

  • In her later photos, she seems to be more comfortable, but her straight  posture still indicates some kind of corsetry
  • She would have to be wearing something under her ranch wear, and as she appears in the later photos to be kind of “spilling over” the top, we can assume it’s the longer and looser corset approaching 1910, or an old one that’s been altered and loosened so it’s more of just a light bra

Working Woman:

  • During her Cody years, when she was running and managing businesses, she tends towards a 2 or 3 piece suit/blouse ensemble.  This seems to be taken from eastern style and modified due to availability and climate
  • Historical excerpts indicate how uncomfortable she got in the winters.  Comfort and warmth seems to be a goal for her.  This makes sense if she’d had a long, hard struggle in life
  • A successful author would need to be courting publishers or at least their agents.  She would have most likely at least one tailored suit current with fashion to make these sales calls, or to attend meetings.  This type of ensemble most likely would be something that would help her look strong but fit in
  • We note she drops her Edwardian lacy blouses in favor of the same thing in tailored fashion
  • The cotton and wool type suits evolve into leather and skin when she focuses on ranch life
  • She lived on ranches and the lifestyle about which she wrote, so she would have changing ensembles to suit the purpose.  Consistent again with Edwardian high fashion, she seems to be aware of what’s going on in the east, and appears to have been a fashion leader
  • She might have been a bit out of step fashion-wise with the women of the time in Cody.  Historical photos of Cody show women in predominantly cotton day dresses, and not high fashion nor the leggings/ranch ensembles.  Ranch women of the day were in split skirts and blouses
  • Ms. Lockhart’s versions of ranch and daywear seems much more fashionable than extant of the west


  • She was fashionable, and would be very fashionable had she stayed in the east, but would have had many “costumes” appropriate to the activity
  • She was modifying high fashion to suit function in the west
  • She would have had different outfits for different functions during the peak of her success (approaching 1920)
  • Possible depictions seem to break into 3 areas:
      • early womanhood, Edwardian style, cuirasse bodice, lace, flowers, top fashionworking years east tailored suit with appropriate but tailored ornamentation with latest styled undergarments & silhouette
      • working years west tailored suit of heavier fabrics with appropriate and current styled silhouette but lesser corsetry and simpler undergarments suited more to function; trims of local sourcing such as leather rather than silk; overall a “heavier” look that one would have found in the east at the time.  She might have had a main 2-piece suit with different blouses and accessories to dress it up or down; wearing the same skirt
      • mid years ranch style a younger and more eastern influenced fashion of blouse and skirt but of functional fabrics and trims such as heavy denim with nice belts and gloves that could be interchanged for in town or ranch work
      • later years ranch style the full leather suit introduced by the sharpshooters and performers such as Annie Oakley who still eperiod corsetry, but had lovely fringes, beads, and fabrics for their blouses
          • The shorter, symmetrical skirt of 1902-1908 seen on performers was only acceptable for “regular” women in riding habits and sports at the time, so it would have been daring for Ms. Lockhart to wear the shorter ranch skirt seen in her ranch photos
          • She seems to have several working ensembles with the same cut and line, a jacket and skirt western style of cotton for daily wear and wool or leather for dress up, with the straighter line seen in 1910 until war time

        Below:  Probably influences on Ms. Lockhart’s ranch style bout 1904-1906 when she arrived in Cody – the performers in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show (next section shows more “every day” women of the west.  It seems Ms. Lockhart might have drawn from both concepts):


Kittie Wilkins Horse Queen 1890

Correct era corsets:

Summer Corset of 1901-3

Corset undervest


Chemise or corset cover (or blouse) with knickers would be worn

Western Skirts

Eastern influenced Western Skirts with blouses

Edwardian day dresses western styling

Era 2 piece suits with blouse Western styling


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