Wild Women of the West: Peg-Leg-Annie

The story of her life is one of tragedy, courage, and resourcefulness.

June 11, 2019

Her name was Annie McIntyre Morrow, and the story of her life and times in the Idaho mining camps of Atlanta and Rocky Bar is one of tragedy, courage, and resourcefulness.  She was born in Van Buren County, Idaho, on September 13, 1858. Her mother died giving birth to her. Annie’s father, Steve McIntyre, brought her to the mining camp of Rocky Bar in 1864, and the two settled there.

When Annie was six years old her father became partners with George W. Jackson, owner of one of the richest gold mines in the vicinity, the Gold Star.  The two men quarreled; there was a shoot-out, and McIntyre was killed, leaving Annie an orphan.

At the age of fourteen, Annie met a man named Morrow, and the two became romantically involved.  They married in 1876, but the marriage was not a happy one because Morrow beat his young bride. Annie left Rocky Bar with her husband but returned a few years later as a widow.  Whether her husband died or whether she left him is not known.

Not long after her return to the South Boise mining area, Annie began operating a boarding house in Atlanta, Idaho, fourteen miles from Rocky Bar, over a four-mile mountain summit.  Annie was an angel of mercy in the mining camp. She never turned down a hungry man or one without money. Her boarding house was a haven to those who were down on their luck.

Annie’s best friend was a German woman, Emma Van Losch, known in the mining camp as Dutch Em.  The two shared a fondness for alcohol and were often seen going from one saloon to another sampling the various products.  In mid-May 1898, Annie and Dutch Em started drinking, and by late evening the two were near drunk. In spite of a snowstorm raging outside, the pair decided to walk to Rocky Bar to attend a dance.  They were not adequately clothed when they set out on their way, but they did take more to drink with them when they left.

The trail the two embarked on between Atlanta and Rocky Bar lay around Bald Mountain, a height of more than seven thousand feet.  At day break a mail carrier from Atlanta was making his way up the summit to exchange mail with another carrier from Rocky Bar. The carrier reported passing the two women on the way up.  A mountain blizzard swept down before he made his descent, and he failed to see them in the thick curtain of snow that engulfed the whole mountain side.

The raging blizzard lasted for two days, and everyone in the two mining camps of Atlanta and Rocky Bar were worried about Dutch Em and Annie.  The third day after their departure, when the mail packer, Jackson, went on his run, he began a search for the two women. Three feet of fresh snow had fallen during the storm, and all the bushes and trees were covered with a mantle of white.  Finally, in a deep canyon on the Atlanta side of the mountain, the mail man came upon Annie crawling about in the snow, jabbering in delirium. Her feet were frozen. Jackson carried her back to Atlanta and sent for Dr. M. J. Newkirk in Mountain Home eighty miles away.

For five days Annie waited for the doctor.  She drank whisky to kill the intense pain she was suffering from her frozen feet.  Tate had made the mistake of building a fire in her room, and as Annie’s feet thawed, her agony was almost unendurable.  As she had no family, the miners took up a collection and hired a nurse to take care of her.

During the five days it took the doctor to reach Annie, various people of the camp suggested remedies to alleviate Annie’s suffering.  Annie’s nurse even tried poultices of grated potatoes. The entire camp was sympathetic and tried to help in every possible way. When Dr. Newkirk finally arrived, gangrene had set in.  He placed Annie on the kitchen table, gave her an anesthetic, and amputated both legs just below the knees.

After a time Annie’s delirium left her, and she was able to relate her experiences on the tragic trip across the blizzard-held mountain.  Search parties were dispatched to Bald Mountain to locate Dutch Em, and her frozen body was found about a mile from where Annie had been rescued.  The men who found her saw that she was covered with Annie’s underclothes.

Annie said that she was sure that she could have made it to safety after the blizzard struck, but she would not desert Em who collapsed.  The two women found a huge boulder and huddled against it. Annie tried to build a fire, but the snow had wet her matches, so the two lay close together in an effort to keep from freezing.  Annie removed her underclothes and covered Em, but after twenty-four hours she froze to death. Annie couldn’t remember anything beyond that.

After her legs healed, Annie made woolen pads for her stumps and started doing the laundry for the miners of Rocky Bar.  She worked hard and saved her money. She believed her life had changed for the better when she met and fell in love with a drifter named Henry Longheme.  He convinced Annie to take her savings of twenty years, some $12,000, and give it to him to deposit in a bank in San Francisco. A month after he left the area, Annie received a letter from Henry.  He was in New York and he wrote to let her know he was leaving the country. She never heard from him again, nor did she ever hear of her money. She inquired of the bank in San Francisco and learned that her money had never been deposited there.

For a short time after prohibition came into effect, Annie bootlegged in a little cabin near Rocky Bar.  Toward the last years of her life, she was completely broke. The tenderhearted miners brought her groceries and carried wood to her cabin.  Annie eventually contracted cancer and died from the disease in 1934. She was seventy-six years old. She is buried in the Morris Hill cemetery in Boise.

Looking for more Wild Women of the West? Read about Cad Wilson here!

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