Wyoming’s Original ‘Cougar': The Story of Agnes Thatcher Lake
Urban Dictionary loosely defines the term 'cougar' as "a female who is on the hunt for a much younger male".
Perhaps the most famous 'cougar' in Wyoming history is legendary circus performer Agnes Thatcher Lake, who married "Wild" Bill Hickok in 1876 at a house in Cheyenne.
At the time of their marriage, Lake was eleven years older than Hickok.
Prior to meeting the renowned wild west showman, Lake had built a reputation of her own as one of the premiere circus performers in the country.
At 16, she met and married her first husband, a circus clown named Bill Thatcher, who went by the stage name of Bill Lake. She mastered the art of tight-rope walking and learned to train lions, quickly becoming one of the most popular attractions in the west.
Two years after her first husband was killed, she met and befriended Hickok, who was then the town marshall of Abilene, Texas.
Another five years later, in 1876, they met again in Cheyenne. The following month, on March 5, 1876, they were wed by Reverend W.F. Warren of Cheyenne's First Methodist Church.
The Cheyenne Daily Sun reported news of the nuptuals, writing "“Wild Bill of western fame has conquered numerous Indians, outlaws, bears and buffaloes, but a charming widow has stolen the magic wand. The scepter has departed and he is as meek and gentle as a lamb. In other words, he has shuffled off the coil of bachelorhood.”
Sadly, their marraige would be short lived. On August 2, 1876, Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon.
In September of 1877, Lake returned to Cheyenne. This time, she married another younger man named George Carson. He was 29, she was 42.
It's unknown how long her third marriage lasted. Lake eventually moved to New Jersey, where she lived with her daughter and son-in-law until 1907, when she passed away at the age of 80
She was laid to rest in Cincinatti, Ohio, next to her first husband Bill Lake.