The Last Golden Girl of the West

The Panhandle was the last area of Texas to be settled and there are a million stories right here. In fact, the railroad takes the credit for taming this last wild part. Along the rails, towns sprang up which pushed out the outlaws and other undesirables thereby bringing law and order.

Amarillo, the largest town in the Panhandle, wasn’t settled until Oct. 1887. Before that, was Tascosa, which is a ghost town now, only 36 miles from here.

Tascosa loosely became a town in 1876. I say that because I don’t think it was ever incorporated. It was a wild and wooly place and occupied mostly by men on the run. Saloons and dancehalls sprang up and gunfights were a regular occurrence. It became known as the Cowboy Capital of the Plains. Temple Houston, son of Sam Houston, served as a district attorney in Tascosa from 1882 to 1884. He was a brilliant attorney by the way.

At the time Frenchy McCormick arrived, there were only three other white women in the whole Panhandle and they had to be as tough as shoe leather. Frenchy would be classified as that. The twenty-four-year-old worked in the saloons dealing Monte at the gaming tables and played cards with many old West legends.

No one really knows her real name. Some say Elizabeth McGraw. She was Irish and well-educated. It’s hard to understand why a well-educated woman chose this life. She could’ve done so many other things, but I suppose her heart led her to Tascosa. A cowboy gave her the name Frenchy because she spoke fluent French and came from Louisiana.

Around 1880, she fell in love with Mickey McCormick, an Irish gambler and livery stable owner. He always claimed as long as she was at his side at the gaming tables he never lost.

They were married in 1881.

When the railroad bypassed Tascosa a few years after, the town began to steadily decline. But Frenchy and Mickey kept living in their small adobe house, their devotion to each other evident by all.

Mickey died suddenly in 1912 at 64 years old, but Frenchy refused to leave Tascosa which had become a ghost town. She occupied their adobe house on Atascosa Creek and visited his grave every day. (The town is now on the property of the Cal Farley’s Boy’s Ranch and they have become diligent caretakers.)

She lived alone in the ghost town for 27 years without electricity or running water, tending Mickey’s grave. She died on January 12, 1941 at the age of 89 and was buried next to Mickey. True to the end. That was true love.

I have plans to go out there to the ghost town and visit their graves soon and I can’t wait. I wonder how many of us would show such devotion.

Do you know of other love stories? Maybe in your family or in books or movies.

Linda Broday
I live in the Texas Panhandle where we love our cowboys.There's just something about a man in a Stetson that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules/

36 Comments

  1. What a strong woman. She obviously was devoted to her husband and likely didn’t want to leave him. The dates are what surprised me. This is a story of the Old West, but is really much more contemporary. It is amazing that she lived until the 1940’s. Do you know how old she was when she died? Never mind. I just looked her up. She was almost 89 when she died. Amazing she could live on her own that long. Sad that they apparently didn’t have any children.

    1. Good morning, Patricia…….Frenchy was a very strong woman and I sense that she threw great passion into whatever she did. It certainly was the case when she fell in love. Nothing was half-hearted. Especially her love for Mickey McCormick. Yes, I guess it was partially a contemporary love story since their tale spilled over into the 20th century. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying this fall weather.

      Much love and hugs!

  2. Great blog Linda- I’d love to go with you to visit this town. Right off the top of my head I think about my neighbors, Wayne and Shirley DeCamp, (Granny & Granpa to Rob & I.)
    He was 4 years older than her, but she said she told everyone when she was a young girl she would marry Wayne DeCamp one day. So as she attended Highschool he went off to fight in WWII and was captured over in the Pacific. He came back when she was a senior in Highschool. I guess by then he saw her and had his eyes on her. She said he asked her to go riding in his car with him and she said “NO!!” You ask me when you’re ready to be serious only with me, because will be married one day. And they were, had 6 wonderful children, 2 of which have passed. Their youngest when he was 17, and one daughter when she was 50 years old. The other 4 children, 3 daughters & 1 son have all adopted Rob & I too as honorary DeCamps. They are now 96 ( Wayne will be 97 in December, and Shirley is 93), they celebrated 72 or 73 years of wedded bliss this past May, but I can’t remember for sure. They are 2 very very special people who Truly show what true love should be.
    You have a great day Linda, love you.

    1. Good morning, Tonya…..Oh my goodness! What amazing love that stood the test of time. I’m sure they saw many ups and downs in their years together but they weathered them together. That’s so sweet. And how touching that they adopted you and Rob! I’m sure you both help them a lot since you’re right next door.

      Much love and hugs!

    2. What a sweet story.

  3. Linda, thank you for this great post!

    1. Good morning, Caryl……I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about Frenchy. She was quite a woman. Thanks for coming.

      Hugs!

  4. I loved the post. I do not know of any love stories but am thinking of doing some family research.

    1. Good morning, Debra……I’m sure you’ll find plenty of love stories in your family research. I hope you get to do that. Everyone needs to know where they came from. I ran into a brick wall with searching my maternal side but I’m still trying. Good luck with yours.

      Hugs!

  5. That really was true love. We can all wish for a love like that.

    1. Good morning, Janine……Thank you for coming to read about Frenchy. She certainly left her mark.

      Hugs!

  6. What a wonderful post. She had to be a strong woman to work in the salon. What a deep love. I imagine that she only stayed for her husband. Thank you for sharing.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Good Morning, Carol……When Frenchy came to Tascosa, there were only three other white women living in the Panhandle. That must’ve caused quite a few problems working in the saloon. She had to have had someone protecting her. I’m so glad you liked reading about her.

      Hugs!

  7. I wish I did now someone with a wonderful loves story such as this one of yours. All though I can say my dad put up with pure hell from my mother at times and he stayed with my mom for 50+ years

    1. Good morning, Glenda……I’m glad to see this fine morning. It’s cold here in the Panhandle. Sounds like your dad might’ve deserved a medal. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful day, lady!

      Love and hugs!

  8. What a fascinating story, Linda! I can’t imagine how lonely her life must have been after her husband died and the rest of the townsfolk left. She must have been a strong woman indeed.

    1. Good morning, Karen…….I’m sure it was very lonely. One piece I read said that people would check on her regularly and beg her to leave but she always said no. She couldn’t leave Mickey. The nearest town was 36 miles away. Very lonely indeed!

      Hugs!

  9. My family romance story is a sad one that I think I may have perhaps told before. My great grandmother died instantly in her late 30s after being kicked by a horse in the kidneys in 1900. Her husband, my great grandfather, died not long after from pneumonia but the long and often told, widespread family story is that he died of a broken heart, not fighting to survive. The picture I have of him after her death definitely shows the sorrow in his deep dark eyes. As a side note, his clothing was definitely all cowboy from the Indian Territory era. (Three of their five children survived them but that’s a story for another time.)

    1. Good morning, Eliza……That is a sad story. I’m sure your great-grandfather loved her deeply. That picture of him must be a treasure. And how sad for their children. They must’ve been young. I pray you’re doing better and getting stronger every day.

      Much love and hugs!

  10. I loved reading about Frenchy and her love and devotion for her husband. I believe many, many women have chosen to live a life that others don’t understand simply because of their hearts being captured by one person. Both my parents and in-laws enjoyed long marriages before one of them was called home. Their lives weren’t extraordinary or extremely exciting but they remained loyal to their wedding vows. Wait…my in-laws were married 58 years and my parents celebrated their 56th anniversary before my Daddy’s death two weeks later! They were extraordinary!
    Blessings!!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Good morning, Connie……Your parents and in-laws were very extraordinary people and must’ve been truly devoted. I think you’re right about the women who chose a such a hard life. They were right where they needed and wanted to be to find and marry the one they loved. Nothing else explains it. It was sad that Frenchy and Mickey never had any children.

      Blessings and hugs to you!

  11. What a great story! Thank you so much for sharing it, Linda. I hope you have a great day!

    1. Good morning, Melanie……I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and thanks for coming.

      Hugs!

  12. Josephine Marcus and Wyatt Earp was a love story which endured.

    1. Hi Anne…..I’m so glad you could join us. Yes, Wyatt and Josephine had a lasting love story. It always thrills my heart when I see a long marriage these days. Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne, have been married for 63 years. Such a rarity for Hollywood and anywhere else these days.

      Hugs!

  13. I loved learning about Frenchy, Linda! You’ll have to share photos of the ghost town-I’d love to see it!

    1. Hi Marin……I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Absolutely a deal with any pictures I take. I’m really excited.

      Hugs, Filly sister!

  14. I have photocopies of love letters shared between my great-grandparents in the early 1900s

    1. Hi Denise……Keep those love letters in a safe place and hang onto them. I’m so envious. I have very few things from my grandparents and nothing from the greats.

      Hugs!

  15. Wow, what a story! I love all of these interesting tidbits you all find and share with us all.

    1. Hi Colleen…….I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. Frenchy was a very strong woman. Whenever I run across something like this, I save to share with you and the others.

      Much love and hugs!

  16. Hi my friend, great blog. As you know, my story in one of our anthologies (pretty sure it was “Give Me a Texas Ranger”) was set in Ol’ Tascosa. The stories out of there are absolutely wonderful and so this part of Texas. Thanks for sharing your research on Frenchy McCormick. I never heard of a divorce in my family until my mother’s generation. I’d like the think our special marriage memories in our family is Bob’s and mine; since we’ll celebrate our 49th anniversary in a few weeks. Of course, we married when I was three years old, which makes me 52. LOL Again, great blog and big Texas hugs and love, Phyliss

    1. Hi Phyliss……Yes, I remember your story set in Tascosa. I believe you mentioned Frenchy but I don’t think you had her directly on the page. You’ve told me about Tascosa for years so why haven’t we gone out there? Congrats on yours and Bob’s 49th anniversary!! Woo-Hoo!

      Love and hugs!

  17. My Dad and Step-mother grew up in Anderson County, Texas and both attended school in Cayuga and were high school sweethearts. Upon graduation they headed out to different colleges and met different people and married. My parents were married for about 23 years years and had 6 kids. My dad and step-mom started dating again after bumping into each other again at a high school reunion. They’ve now been married 36 years. My step-mother took on 5 kids when she married my father so I think you’d call that true love!

    1. I want to go to that ghost town!!

  18. Great post.

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