Lucille Mulhall, Oklahoma Cowgirl & Wolf Roper

P&P Vickie McDonough 3 smallHello, Vickie McDonough here.  Before I get to the actual post, I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know I’ll be giving  away a print copy of Gabriel’s Atonement to one of the visitors who leaves a comment on this post.  Now, let’s talk about Lucille.

You’ve heard of Annie Oakley, but have you ever heard of Lucille Mulhall, who at one time was just as famous?

The first rodeo in Oklahoma Territory was held in the mid-1880s, and ironically, Lucille Mulhall L.Mulhall 04was born on her family’s ranch near what would soon be Guthrie, Oklahoma on October 21, 1885. It is said that she could ride before she could walk. The cowboys who rode the plains of the Indian Territories tutored her in the art of lassoing. Her skill at riding, roping, and training horses was evident, and at a young age, she started competing in roping contests.

When Lucille was just ten years old, the mayor of Guthrie invited her to ply her skills and entertain at a cowboy gathering and contest. At age thirteen, she had her first major debut at the St. Louis Fair in 1897, and in a few years, she was performing on the vaudeville stage, entertaining crowds of up to 5,000.

Zach Mulhall, Lucille’s father, organized the Mulhall’s Congress of Rough Riders and Ropers. Lucille was the star of the show, where she met and became friends with Will Rogers and also Teddy Roosevelt, who was then a candidate for the vice-presidency.

L.Mulhall 03Zach was a proud father and one of Lucille’s greatest fans. He claimed that when his daughter was thirteen, he told her she could keep as many of his steers as she could rope in one day. “Lucille,” he bragged, “didn’t quit until she’d lassoed more than 300 cattle!”

In 1900, when her father was roping in El Paso, he bet local cowboys that his daughter could out rope them—and she did. Zach won over $10,000, but Lucille faced a horrible ordeal. The cowboys didn’t believe she was a girl and attacked her, tearing at her clothing to prove she was not a woman. Her brother Charley rescued her just in time.

Later in 1900, Lucille performed at a Cowboy Tournament at a Rough Riders reunion. Teddy Roosevelt was again amazed at her skill. He joined the family for supper, where the topic of conversation centered on the wolves plaguing the area. Lucille offered to get one for Teddy. He agreed, but only if Lucille would rope one. Undaunted by the challenge, she spent the next ten days tracking a wolf pack. One morning, she caught up with themL.Mulhall 01, and as she rode toward them, the pack scattered—all except for a steer-sized wolf she called “loafer”, which ran straight toward her. She roped him, but he gnawed through the rope. She tossed another rope on loafer and tied him to a tree, then cut his throat. She took the wolf to a taxidermist and had it stuffed, then she sent it to Teddy Roosevelt. As a thank you, the Mulhalls and the 101 Wild West Show performed at the McKinley-Roosevelt inaugural parade.

Lucille and her wolf kill made the news across the country, and she was dubbed the Cowpuncher Queen of Oklahoma Territory. Newspaper reported that Lucille was the greatest attraction at the Rough Riders reunion. An article in the Wichita Daily Eagle described her as a little girl who “weighs only ninety pounds can break a bronco, lasso and brand a steer, and shoot a coyote at 500 yards. She can also play Chopin, quote Browning, construe “Virgil” and make mayonnaise dressing.”

L.Mulhall 021901, Lucille roped five horses simultaneously at a horse show in Iowa. Later, she roped eight at once. The next year, she won a “thousand dollar day championship medal” at the Texas State Fair and Champion Steer Cattlemen’s Convention in Fort Worth. In 1903, Lucille was dubbed “the only lady roper in the world” and won $10,000 when she set a new world record for steer roping.

Lucille married and had a son, but because she left home and returned to performing, her husband, Martin Van Bergen, raised the boy. Van Bergen later divorced Lucille after deciding she would never settle down to domestic life as most women. A second marriage also failed.

Some sources say that Lucille made millions of dollars by performing in silent movies. At one time, she was the most famous horse woman in the world, but she ended up where she began, back on her family’s ranch. She died tragically in a car crash on December 22, 1940.

Lucille performed before European royalty, U.S. presidents, and won the respect of cowboys worldwide for her skill. She became the only female rodeo producer of her time with her show Lucille Mulhall’s Roundup and is well known for opening up the world of rodeo for women. Lucille’s popularity was due to her skill, the result of perfect timing with her rope, unusual balance on her horse, and her diminutive size and ladylike demeanor. Most important, she was authentic, coming from a genuine ranch background. She was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1975 and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1977.

So, tell me. Have you heard of Lucille Mulhall before?

Credits:

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In 2008, I started writing a book called Gabriel’s Atonement, which has stayed on my heart ever since. It was one-third finished when I had to set it aside because I got a contract for another book. I was thrilled, when after several rejections, Gabriel’s Atonement was finally picked up by Barbour Publishing. The book released on January 1, and I’m thrilled to tell you that Gabriel’s Atonement, book 1 in the Land Rush Dreams series received 4 ½ stars from Romantic Times magazine.

Popular historical author Laurie Kingery writes: “This is possibly the best western I’ve read all year. (2014)”

Gabriel's_AtonementWhat it’s about:

Gambler Gabe Coulter is content with his comfortable life—but when a man with a gun confronts him in a dark alley, everything changes. Guilt riddles him for killing Tom Talbot, even though it was self-defense. The dying man said the money he lost to Gabe was meant for his wife and son. The only way Gabe knows to rid himself of the guilt over killing Talbot is to return the money he won to the man’s wife.

Lara Talbot doesn’t believe Tom had money. She sees Gabe as a charming con artist like her irresponsible husband and wants nothing to do with him. She struggles to feed her family, keep her rebellious sister in line, and care for her young son and sick grandpa. The land rush in the Oklahoma Territory seems the only way for them to get a home, so Lara rides, but her dreams don’t turn out as planned. Could God have a bigger dream for her than she could imagine?
(Click on cover to purchase book)

To learn more about Vickie and her books, visit her website here.

Guest Blogger
Updated: January 3, 2015 — 4:55 pm

46 Comments

  1. Hi Vicki. No i am 79 and don’t remember ever hearing anything about this Lucille Mulhall. Only Annie Oakley. Hard to believe a young girl could do all of this. WOW!
    What a legacy. I would love to win your book. Thanks for the chance.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    1. It’s all true. I left out so much about Lucille because the post would have been too long. Congratulations on reaching 79. That’s awesome!

  2. Happy New Year! I, myself, have never heard of Lucille before. She is amaxing! What a great role model she would must have been for girls, both young and old! I think she would make a great American Girl Doll or maybe someone should write a story for girls who love cowgirls and adventures! Thanks!

    1. Great idea, Lisa! I’d never heard of Lucille either, and I grew up in Oklahoma. I learned about her in an OK historical magazine. Thanks for visiting P & P today!

  3. Wow the stories and pictures of Lucille are fascinating. And I had never heard of her before. She was definitely a legend in her time. Love the intro for you new book Gabriel’s Atonement. Congratulations on a new release.

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I would love to have had the chance to watch Lucille in action.

  4. Can’t say that I remember hearing about Lucille before but she is a rather interesting character. I wonder if there has ever been a book written about her?

    Love the introduction to your book. Looking forward to reading it!

    1. That’s a great question, Connie. I’m surprised I never heard of her before since we’re from the same state.

  5. Hi Vickie! Welcome back to the Junction. We’re always thrilled when you come. I loved reading about Lucille. Wow, what an amazing woman! Wish I could’ve met her. Would love to have asked some questions.

    Congratulations on the new book! Gabriel’s Atonement is just dripping with conflict. Love those kinds of stories. Gabe sounds like a man with a lot of baggage and Lara a women of grit. I love strong women who do whatever they must to survive.

    Stay warm up there in Oklahoma. It’s mighty cold. We have snow here in the Texas Panhandle.

    1. Thanks for the warm welcome, Linda! Lucille sure was amazing. I saw the weather report a few days ago and couldn’t believe how much of TX was getting snow–and we weren’t at the time. That’s unusual.

  6. Avatar

    Wow! That was interesting, Vickie. I’ve never heard of Lucille. I guess that was humiliating to the men if they were so sure she was a man. I wonder what ever happened to the stuffed wolf. Hmmmm may need to look that up!

    1. You know it was, especially back then when redeoing was such a man’s world. Good question about the wolf! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Vickie, I never heard of Lucile but your post is very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
    I still hope to read Gabriel’s Atonement. Love the cover and excerpt and look forward to others in the series.

    1. Hey Jackie! Glad you could stop by today. I think you’ll like GA.

  8. Vickie, I had never heard of Lucille. What a fascinating life she led. I love history and learning about such amazing characters as Lucille who seem larger than life, but who, when you get down to it, are like the rest of us. Thank you for this post.

    1. Hi Susan, you made it! Lucille’s life is a great example of parents exposing their children to their world while the kids are young and then not holding them back. Who knows what they can accomplish.

  9. Sounds likes the book for me! I’d love to read it. Thanks for the chance.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

    1. You’re welcome, Susan. Gabriel’s Atonement is an exciting book.

  10. Hi, while I have not heard of Lucille before, I found your post very interesting. Also, your book sounds really good.

    1. Thanks, Ashley. It’s a book I started back in 2008 and got about 1/3 written before I had to set it aside to work on a contracted book. One of those books of my heart. 🙂

  11. Enjoyed your post! I saw this book the other day and just about pre-ordered it (still considering the purchase), it would be so much better to win it, lol. It sounds like a great read.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

    1. Hi Wendy, You could always buy GA and then if you won the copy of it, give it to a friend. 😀 Thanks for leaving a comment!

  12. I’ve never even heard of Lucille

    1. I hadn’t either until I heard read about her in The Chronicles of Oklahoma publication. Her story fascinated me.

  13. I’m afraid I hadn’t heard of her so thank you so much – I found it fascinating!

    1. Me too. I don’t understand how such a talented lady was so unknown.

  14. Hi Vickie, welcome to the junction and congratulations on your new book. Never heard of Lucille, but what an exciting life she led.

    Thank you for posting and happy New Year!

    Hugs

    1. Hi Margaret! Glad to see you here today. Thanks for the congrats!

  15. I never heard of Lucille but I found her story very interesting. I just don’t think we hear enough about the fabulous women who helped settle the West.

    1. I agree, Joye. I love hearing the stories of these hard working, determinded pioneer women.

  16. I have never heard of her either, interesting post!

  17. Gabriel’s Atonement is a great book. I loved the story.

  18. Interesting info

  19. Hi Vickie,

    Terrific post and so interesting. Being an Okie and a history buff, I’d heard of her but didn’t know how accomplished she was. And she was a pretty cute little thing too.

    Linda g

  20. I’ve heard of Mulhall, OK, but hadn’t heard of Lucille before. I really enjoyed reading about her and learning all she did–so much more than I was able to write about.

  21. Vickie, I’m a country girl who raised, broke horses and rodeo during my younger years, I loved this story about a woman who earned respect in a very male dominated field. It’s hard work, I know from experience. Thanks for sharing.
    Jan (from Oklahoma)

  22. Jan, you lived my dream life. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by today!

  23. I’ve never heard of her….but it’s very cool to learn about her:)

  24. I loved the post! It was a hard thing to be in the “man’s world” in those days! I would love to win this book! Sounds exactly like my kind of book!

  25. Vickie, thank you so much for the post. Sadly, I had never heard of Lucille Mulhall. What an accomplished woman. Annie Oakley must have had a much better PR person to get her name out there and keep it there. Lucille was an attractive woman and serious about her “craft.” I think the fact she was a triple threat (attractive, capable, and talented) probably did a lot to keep here from getting her due. As happened with the attack on her because they didn’t believe she could be a woman and so capable, high praise by the general public and media was withheld. The fact that she could form and run her own business as well as compete and perform was a threat in a man’s world. I will have to see what other information I can get on her.

  26. Thanks for the great post. I don’t recall having learned about Lucille, so I enjoyed reading about her life. Your book sounds intriguing. I would love to read it. Best wishes on its success.

    Robyn Echols

  27. I had never heard of Lucy Mulhall. Thank you for the great post introducing her to us. I love learning new things from history.

    I would love to win a copy of your book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  28. I Had not heard of her.. She must have loved what she did! Very interesting life she had…
    dkstevensne AT outlook DoTCoM

  29. Fascinating life story. It makes me wonder anout other hidden stories. Thanks for sharing!

  30. This was really an interesting post. I especially was interested in Lucille’s connection to Teddy Roosevelt. I don’t recall ever hearing about Lucille Mulhall.

  31. Vicki – Lucille Mulhall sounds like the old west wonder woman.
    Bet she was someone to be reckoned with if you got her dander up. Thanks, for the info & pic. of her. Someone I would have liked to met. Thanks, for the book giveaway of Gabriel’s Atonement; from the excerpt it sounds like he has a lot to answer for & a lot of talking to do to a certain woman.

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