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Kate McHale was a young farmer near Greeley CO in the early 1900's, she dismounted to open a gate and a rattlesnake appeared. While her 3-year-old son Ernie stayed on the horse, she killed at least 140 rattlesnakes. Kate used some of the skins to make a dress and shoes (now in the Greeley museum). Kate married and divorced six times, and was a taxidermist, farmer, midwife, and bootlegger."

Buchanan got a teaching certificate in 1905 from the Colorado State College for Education at Greeley. After teaching for a decade, she studied for a year at the University of Chicago. Then she came to Colorado University. So it was that in June 1918, she became the first black woman to earn a degree from CU. The moment was historic but sad; officials would not let her climb onstage to accept her diploma.