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Cathay Williams

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Cathay Williams, Buffalo Soldier

Cathay Williams was born into slavery in Missouri. Just a teenager in the Civil War, she was freed by Union soldiers and began paid work as a servant in the Federal Army. Then the war ended. She found a novel way to maintain her financial independence: she enlisted.

Women were not allowed to serve at that time, so Cathay Williams posed as a man under the name “William Cathay.” She was made one of the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black peacetime regiment of the Army. Musket in hand, she marched from fort to fort in the Plains and Southwest. After two years, she’d had enough, and allowed the military to discover she was a woman and was honorably discharged. Cathay Williams moved to Pueblo and died in Trinidad in 1892. Today, a marker there declares: “Her service represents the contributions of all African-American women who helped settle the West.”

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.