Prairie Cold

I’m no stranger to cold weather. I was born in northern Idaho and I was there for the record cold temperature of -42°F in 1968. My dad was in college and we lived in a house with no insulation to speak of. My bedroom window, frame and all, would occasionally fall into my room if the front door was shut too hard and the nail holding it in wasn’t adjusted just right. I remember my mom putting so many blankets on my bed during that cold snap that once I was under them, I could barely move. The horses started running because of the cold and broke through the fence into the wheat fields. They had to be caught. Good times.

Cows coming in to drink -20F. 

 

Then I moved to northern Nevada, which is also very cold in the winter. On my daughter’s sixth birthday, we woke up to temperatures of -34°F. The pipes were frozen, the truck wouldn’t start. We had a birthday celebration booked at the local McDonald’s. Fortunately, my friend’s truck did start and she was able to pick us up and take us to the party while my husband dealt with hairdryers, heat tapes and engine block heaters.

This fall I moved to Montana. I thought I was ready for the low temperatures—the record so far has been -24°F—but I’d forgotten just how face-burning cold this place can be when one has to go outside a lot. It felt different than the Nevada cold, which made no sense, since we also had numerous below zero days there. A kid at the Mac store in Bozeman cleared it all up for me.  He mentioned that the cold must be a change. I assured him that we had cold weather in Nevada and he quickly said, “That’s desert cold. This is prairie cold.”

He’s right. Prairie cold is colder—which got me wondering about how in the world did the early settlers on the prairie–and I’m thinking the wind-whipped prairies with no mountains in sight–stay warm in those little cabins and sod houses with no wood to stoke the fires? The answer is cattle and buffalo chips and hay twists. The chips are, of course, dried bovine dung. The hay twists are bundles of dry grass twisted together. Both of these fuels burn hot, creating a lot of ash. The fire needs tended full time. One excerpt I read talked about one family member leaving the cabin with a bucket of ashes every time another came in with a load of fuel.

The following excerpt illustrates the ongoing battle of staying warm and cooking with cattle chips.

“Here is the rundown of the operations that mother went through when making baking powder biscuits. … Stoke the stove, get out the flour sack, stoke the stove, wash your hands, mix the biscuit dough, stoke the stove, wash your hands, cut out the biscuits with the top of a baking powder can, stoke the stove, wash your hands, put the pan of biscuits in the oven, keep on stoking the stove until the biscuits are done (not forgetting to wash the hands before taking up the biscuits).”

— From Western Story: The Recollections of Charley O’Kieffe,

1884-1898. Lincoln: U of N Press, 1960.

I am in awe of the men, women and children who weathered the prairie winters back in the day in order to build a better life. I’d like to think I’m tough enough to have endured, as my great-grandmother did, but I’m also very glad I don’t have to find out for real.

What about you? Do you think you could have handled a prairie winter in a cabin or sod house?

New Dicken’s Fair Dress

I’m getting ready for the annual family trek to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with the kids. Part of our celebration 2-1involves participating in the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, in costume, of course. It’s so much more fun in costume. Even my  husband, who is not a dress up guy, dresses up for Dickens.

This year howev5er, I had a little bit of problem fitting into the old costume. I was close–as in if I wore a corset, I’d be fine. I don’t want to wear a corset all day, so the only thing I could do was to make a new dress. Fast. In the middle of moving. We do not yet have water in our house, but we have electricity, and that was all I needed to make the sewing machine run.

I chose eggplant taffeta and green velveteen. Victorians love purple and green and I wanted to stay with green accents, since my feathered hat is green and I’m not giving up my hat. When I first laid the fabrics on top of one another, my first thought was “I don’t know…” My second was, “Do you want to wear a corset all day?” So I plunged in.

I choose Simplicity 2887, which is based on a German pattern published in 1863. As you can see, the modern pattern, 2-2created by Kay Gnagey, faithfully recreates the original. You can read more about the original pattern here.

I chose not to put fringe on the tabs, and now, having seen the original, which I did not study before I started to sew, I plan to 4-1redo the skirt tabs so that they are not spaced so far apart. But that is a project for another year. I’m debating about tassels on the buttons. The tassels I bought are too small, but Britex Fabrics is one of my San Francisco stops, so perhaps I will have tassels when I attend the Fair.

The dress is closed by sixteen hook and eye fasteners. I love hand sewing, unless it 7-1involves snaps or hooks and eyes. But I persevered and got the darned things sewn on.

The dress isn’t yet hemmed. The first year my son brought his now-wife to join our Thanksgiving celebration, she and my daughter and I sat on the floor and hemmed our Victorian dresses in preparation for our very first Dickens Fair. It was a lovely bonding time. This year I’ll be the only one hemming on Friday, but I know I’ll have good company as I sew.

The dress will be worn with a  lace collar and white sleeves. I hope to get some good photos at the fair and I’ll share them in my December post.

Until then, please have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Ten Facts You May Not Know About Me…Jeannie Watt

Filly Fun 2016 Design to use

Hi Everyone! I’m back again to share with you ten things about me. Writing ten things sounds easy until you start…then it gets hard. But here goes…

1. I love to sew. Just love it. My mother taught me to sew when I was nine during

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my first year of 4-H. Being a kid with a short attention span, I hated sewing! A hem took an eternity, and I had better things to do! But all of my friends were in 4-H sewing, so I continued on. By the time I hit high school, I realized that I could make clothing that I couldn’t afford (this was pre-discount store time) and sewing became a passion. It was also easier after I’d attained some skills and my attention span was (slightly) longer.

 

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2.I also love ponies. I learned to ride on a pony, but wanted a big horse. My younger brother had a big old gentle work horse that I coveted. However, after I finally got a big horse, I discovered that not only did I love ponies, but they loved me. I’m a pony person. I had a herd of thirteen when my husband finally put his foot down and said I had to pare down the herd. So now I have three. They’re pets.

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My house in Nevada.

3.I live off the grid in rural Nevada and have for the past twenty-two years. When we first moved to our house, which is good sized and has all the amenities of any home anywhere, we would turn the power off at night and read by kerosene lantern. Now we read on our cell phones and tablets. How times h
ave changed. It was a great way to raise kids.

 

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4. That said, I’m about to move onto my parents’ farm and cattle ranch in Montana. It’s a very small cattle operation, but enough to keep us busy. We’ll be raising heritage beef, which has a lean-tender gene. Low marbling, yet lots of flavor. My dad has quite a breeding program going on.

30s-ensemble5. In addition to loving to sew, I collect vintage patterns on ebay, then sew them into clothes that I may or may not be able to wear. Sometimes they look a lot different on the pattern than they do on a real body. I’ve discovered that I have 1930s shape. Those patterns fit me well.

6. I worked in an underground mine when I was in my twenties, back when there weren’t many women underground. I worked for a year, then returned to college to get a degree in geology. I also got a degree in education.

img_15287. I started running when I was in my forties because my kids were in cross country. I hated it, but like sewing, eventually came to embrace it. I’m slow and steady.

8. I taught junior high science for 29 years. I miss my kids, but I love being retired!

9. I hate heights—my husband and I once re-roofed a garage working on our bellies for the most part, because he’s afraid of heights, too—but I don’t mind spiders.

img_303310. My family and Iimg_3012 attend the Great Dickens Fair in San Francisco every year. I made all the clothing for the family. I found that I really enjoy tailoring. I think we look very dapper.
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And there you go–ten things about me. I’m a sewing, pony-loving, off-the-grid, ranching, mining, running, height-fearing, spider-tolerating, Victorian costumer!

 

 

 

 

Jeannie Watt – Catch Me, Cowboy Excerpt and Give Away

Jeannie Watt 2Hello and Happy Wednesday! Today I’m in Florida, attending a writing conference and hanging out with my fellow authors. My husband is home packing the house for our move to Montana, which earns him a Great Guy Award.

Today I’m posting an excerpt from Catch Me Cowboy — Book 1 of Tule Publishing’s 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo series. For a chance to win a digital copy, leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about western romances. My favorite thing is the challenges rural people face in the course of their everyday lives and how they overcome.

CATCH ME, COWBOY

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Shelby O’Connor heard gravel crunch under tires on the opposite side of the barn, but didn’t take her eyes off the horse circling her in the round pen. If she broke focus, so would the young gelding, and now that she’d made a small amount of headway in the respect department, she wasn’t stopping. She gently slapped the coils of rope she held against her thigh and waved a hand to urge the horse to trot faster. A truck door slammed and boots hit the ground.

Please be UPS.

If it wasn’t, she could handle it.

The round pen was set up behind the barn, to keep the horses from being distracted while Shelby worked them, but unfortunately that also kept her from seeing who’d just driven in to the Forty-Six Ranch. Just because she’d gotten a couple of heads up texts early that morning informing her Ty Harding was back in town, it didn’t mean he’d come to see her. Why would he? She’d made her feelings clear as glass when he’d left four years ago. Shelby raised her hand and the gelding flicked an ear and shot a look at her out of one eye as he trotted around the perimeter of the pen, a sign he was starting to focus on her instead of escape. Finally.

She slowly walked up to the horse, extending a hand and waiting until the horse bumped it with his nose. “You did good.”

She rubbed the gelding’s forehead before snapping the lead rope onto the halter and starting toward the gate, her heart thumping just a little harder as she crossed the sandy pen. Moment of reckoning. Who is our mystery guest today? Package delivery guy? Some lost soul looking for the nearly invisible turn-off to the River Road?

Or… Ty.

Her heart slammed against her ribs at the sight of the man who’d once been her whole world, leaning against his truck, the late morning sun behind him, looking every inch the cowboy he was. Dark hair escaped from beneath his Resistol and, even though the brim shaded his face, she could see his features were harder, more sculpted than before. Four years had changed him, but it had not dulled her reaction to him. Part of her wanted to rush into his arms, as she would have done before he’d so easily abandoned her, and another part wanted to smack him. Hard. Fortunately for both of them, the sane part of her prevailed, although it was a battle, and she kept her expression carefully distant as she crossed the drive.

“Shelby.”

“You’re back.”

She spoke on a flat note, as if her heart wasn’t beating a mile a minute— which it shouldn’t be. They’d tried to make a go of it once. Failed. If he was back to make nice so they could live together in the same community…fine. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but, hey…free country and all that.

“I am.” He shifted his weight, hooking a thumb in his belt, a sure sign he wasn’t as certain of himself as he appeared. But even when Ty wasn’t sure of himself, he was a formidable opponent. She knew from the confrontations they’d had when he’d asked her to come with him on the road. As if she could just leave grad school, her grandfather, and go. Right. It would have been easier for him to give up saddle bronc, or to ride only in the Montana Circuit instead of chasing the big titles. But no.

“And…?” Again she tried to sound polite, yet distant, as if he were an acquaintance who’d stopped by for an unknown reason. As if he hadn’t knocked her heart around, but good. He shrugged, those gray-blue eyes of his holding her, causing her to lift her chin as she came closer. Ty was tall for a bronc rider. Long and lean. Cowboy tough. And that had been the problem. He was cowboy tough and cowboy stubborn.

The gelding took a couple sideways steps when she came to a stop and Shelby automatically adjusted the lead, bringing the horse back to where he was supposed to be, standing with his head at her shoulder. She brought her attention back to the man in front of her… the man who wasn’t exactly bursting with explanations.

“Why are you here, Ty?”

“I’m back in Marietta for a while. I wanted to see you.” Direct. To the point. As Ty always was—when he talked about stuff. Good, because she was in no mood for polite games. She wanted him gone before her grandfather realized he was there.

“I see.”

“We have unfinished business, Shelby.”

The laugh burst out of her lips before she could stop it, startling the horse, who danced a few steps before stilling. “The business between us is long finished.”

Good luck! I’ll post the winner on Saturday, September 24th. Stay tuned.

Buried Ships of San Francisco

By Jeannie Watt

Jeannie Watt 2Hi everyone and Happy Wednesday! I was fortunate to be able to spend the past weekend in my favorite
city, San Francisco, with my family. I love the history of this city, so thought I’d share a bit about the lost ships for those that are unfamiliar with this rather unique facet of the area.

Before the California Gold Rush, San Francisco was a quiet port, with a population of several hundred
people. After the rush, the population swelled to more than 42,000–25,000 of which arrived by water.  Ships poured into the harbor, dropping off would-be prospectors, miners and speculators as well as people starting businesses to support the gold miners.

Many of the ships that anchored in the harbor never set sail again. At one point there were more than 500 ships in the harbor, many of which were totally abandoned. Eventually some of the ships were refurbished and put back into service, while others rotted away at their moorings.

A ship-breaking yard, known as Rotten Row, began operation. Crews of mostly Chinese workers would break down ships and sell the wood and metal, or re-purpose the ships into bars, businesses, hotels and storage units. There is even record of a jail and church being build out of refurbished ships.

As business boomed in San Francisco, the locals wanted to fill the shallow part of the harbor in order to allow larger ships to unload cargo in the deeper parts. The easiest way to do this was to sell water lots, which the owners were required to fill with material to bring it above sea level. In order to have title, the owner needed to have real property on the lot and an easy way to do that was to sink a ship on it, prior to filling. Another ways to get a water lot was to sink a ship on it first, and then lay claim to the land around the ship as part of the salvage. Many ships sank in the dead of night.

Map showing the original shoreline (dotted line) and the resting place of several ships.

The original coastline of San Francisco began where the hills hit the water.The flat areas that now make up the Embarcadero and Financial District were once underwater. Eventually a seawall was built in 1871, creating the current shoreline. Between the seawall and the original coasts are the remains of as many as 75 buried ships.

The Old Ship Saloon, still in operation, opened in 1851 in the hull of the Arkansas. Original patrons had to walk up a plank to enter the saloon.

Oil painting of the Niantic
Oil painting of the Niantic

The most inland known ship, the Niantic, was beached on the corner of Clay and Sansome Streets in the Financial District in 1849 and served as a storehouse until the fire of 1851 leveled her to the ground and she was buried.

The ship Euphemia became the local prison in 1850. During the day the prisoners would work on a chain gang and in the evening return to the ship to be locked in the hold. The conditions on the Euphemia worsened throughout the year and eventually a new prison was built in 1851. The fate of the Euphemia was unknown until her remains were dug up in 1921 at the corner of Battery and Sacramento streets. [Note: There is still some controversy as to whether that particular ship is the Euphemia.] In 1925 the store ship Apollo was discovered nearby.

More recent discoveries have been made and most have been reburied, with buildings going in over the top of them.

The ship Rome was discovered while building a Muni tunnel at the foot of Market Street. The ship was too large to excavate, so the tunnel was built through the hull of the ship.

If you’re ever in San Francisco, strolling along the Embarcadero, remember than you may well be literally walking over the top of the ships that helped build the city.

 

 

Good To Be Home, Even If I Can’t Charge My Phone

Our houseHey everyone and happy Wednesday! When I got back from the Romance Writers of America National conference one week ago today, I was greeted by a house with no electricity or water, and a slightly stressed out husband. He also had to replace the refrigerator while I was gone. I was kind of getting afraid to answer the phone while I was in San Diego.

I had a book due shortly after returning home, but with no electricity, finishing it proved to be a problem. Fortunately, I had a neighbor whose power sources were still running, so I’d meet him at the end of my driveway on his way home from work, hand off my laptop, he would take it home and charge it and then we’d meet at the end of the driveway when he headed back to work the next morning. I was so glad to have a fifteen hour battery.

Life off the grid can be a challenge, but my power source is up and running again, and I’m writing away. To celebrate, I’m posting an excerpt from my September Harlequin Western Romance (formerly Harlequin American Romance), The Bull Rider’s Homecoming.

My bull rider hero is babysitting the heroine’s twin daughters during an emergency. He’s never been around kids and is learning the ropes as he goes. I hope you enjoy.

“Now what?”

Well, he certainly couldn’t leave the macaroni cooking and go home. “What do you guys…girls…usually do while waiting for supper to cook?”

“We do our schoolwork.”

“Or watch TV.”

“Or play on the computer.”

Or play dolls.”

Katie’s face brightened. “Yeah. You can be the boy dolls!”

“I…”

But Kristen was already on her way out of the room, Katie close behind her. A moment later they came back carrying a box of dolls and small clothing.

Trace pushed the hair back from his forehead. This was foreign territory.

Katie set three fashion dolls in various states of dress on the table then looked up at Trace. “Who do you want to be?”

“Uh…where’s that guy doll you were talking about?”

Kristen dug into the bin and pulled out two identical boy dolls—one wearing striped pajamas and the other wearing jeans and a white shirt with an aluminum foil buckle on his small belt. “This is Tyler and this is Jess. They’re twins. Like us.”

Trace knew Tyler and Jess Hayward, the bull-riding twins. He wondered if they knew they had tiny doppelgangers.

“We don’t have many boy clothes,” Katie said.

“And they don’t fit in the girl jeans, so Tyler has to wear his pajamas.”

“Or his beach shorts.” Katie pulled out a pair of flowered swim trunks.

Trace picked up Tyler. “So, what’s my job?”

“We have to get the horses and then we play rodeo.”

Not what he’d been expecting.

“Uncle Grady got us a bull, too, so Tyler and Jess can ride the bull.”

“In his pajamas?” Trace asked.

“Well, he has to wear something,” Katie remarked in a grown-up tone as she headed out of the room. She reappeared a few minutes later with a crate of horses and sure enough, there was a Brahma bull in with the plastic model horses.

“I’ll get the cans,” Kristen said.

“Cans?”

“For barrel racing,” Katie said as if he was slow on the uptake.

And so Trace got down on the floor and played rodeo with the girls. Tyler did very well riding the bull, but Jess got tossed off and landed in the sink of soapy water with a big splash, much to the girls’ delight.

“Mom never lets us do that.”

“Mom…” He almost said “doesn’t need to know” before he realized that was not a very wise thing to say to two impressionable seven-year-olds. “Mom knows best,” he amended.

He got to his feet and fished Jess out of the sink and left him to dry on the drain rack before sitting back down again. Out of curiosity, he asked, “Do you guys ever play anything but rodeo?”

“Sometimes we play school and sometimes we play going-on-a-date, but mostly we play rodeo.”

“You can go on a date to a rodeo,” Kristen announced. “That’s where Uncle Grady and Lex went on their first date.”

“We went, too!” Katie added.

“That must have been some first date.”

“It was,” Kristen said, suddenly solemn. “Lex got scared and sad because her dad died at a rodeo, but Uncle Grady helped her get not afraid.”

“And now they’re getting married,” Katie interjected.

“We’re flower girls!”

The Bull Rider’s Homecoming is available for pre-order from Amazon. Thanks for stopping by!

The Art of Hitching Horse Hair

Jeannie Watt 2Hey everyone and happy Wednesday. Today I’m going to toot my own horn and discuss a western craft I love.

I’m a hitcher. Not the kind that marries people, but rather the kind that makes custom cowboy gear out of twisted and woven horsehair.

Hitching is an ancient art and I don’t think anyone has truly nailed down where  or how long ago it started. It has been kept alive, however, in the Montana Penal system, where inmates have been creating hitched horsehair belts and headstalls (bridles) for well over a hundred years. If you visit Deer Lodge, you cabelt detailn see some beautiful hitching in the prison gift store, along with other crafts created by the inmates.

I learned to hitch in 1993, at a time when so few people were hitching, that most knew each other by name or reputation. The art re-surged during the 90s and I was lucky to have been riding that wave. I’ve shown my pieces in western art and museum shows and have been invited twice to show at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko.

So how do yhairou hitch? First you get some decent tail hair. Tail hair is different from mane hair—it’s courser and longer. Mane hair is used for the tassels and also can be twisted into ropes called mecates.

I cheat and buy violin bow hair. It’s alretied hairady cleaned and of equal length. I get it in black, brown and white. The white I dye on the stove, using plain old Rit dye, to create the not-so-natural colors.

To make a string, you count out 9 hairs if you’re using black or brown, because the hair shafts in these colors are thicker, 10 if you’re using white. You flip half of the hair around, because one end of a strand is naturally thicker than the other and this gives you a uniform thickness, and knot it. Then you split the hairs over your hand and twist. Unlike human hair, horsehair doesn’t unravel. As long as twistingit has a knot in both ends, it stays put.

After you have enough strings, you can start hitching. To do this, you fasten two long rolls of twine (I use mattress tufting twine) to a dowel, attach to the twine however many horsehair strings you need to cover the dowel, and then start weaving the horsehair over the twine in half-hitch knots—thus the term hitching. It’s essentially weaving in the round, since you turn the dowel and continue to weave around and around it, until you reach the desired length. Once you are done

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All designs are woven in using different colored horsehair strings.

—a zillion weeks after you start sometimes, you pull the work off the do

wel. It comes off as a tube of horsehair and string, which is then dampened and pressed flat in a big steel press. After that you attach leather and…viola…work of usable art. And hitched horsehair is durable. People are still using horsehair gear made in the 1940s or earlier.

It takes a while to complete a project. When hitching a 1 ½ inch belt, I can finish ¾ to 1 inch in an hour, depending on the complexity of the design I’m weaving—and I’m fast.

Here are some of my finished pieces–

These are belts that I designed and made for my family. My belt is the grey and blue one on the end.

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This is a checkbook cover with a hitched insert of a brand.

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This is my master work—an old-style headstall. I’m still working on the reins. This took 240 hours to complete and I displayed it at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The strings for this work were very delicate–only 5 black hairs, and I worked it over a single twine.

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And this is the Michael Martin Murphy headstall—yes, he bought it, while it was on display at Cowboy Poetry and he was performing there! I was so stoked when I found out.

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And that’s my craft. I’ve so enjoyed sharing with you today, and if you’re ever at a western event, keep your eyes peeled for people or horses wearing hitched horsehair. They’re out there.

1870’s with a 30’s Twist

I love early western movies—those made in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. These movies were made close enough to the times they portrayed—the 1860s-1890’s—that the sets, the clothing, the horse gear, have a fighting chance of being fairly accurate. And if they’re not accurate, at least they’re interesting.

This weekend I watched Zane Grey’s To the Last Man, which was filmed in 1933. It wasn’t the most accurate western I’ve ever seen clothing-wise…but it was interesting.

The story was one of young love redeeming feuding families. The Colby and Hayden families have feuded in Kentucky for generations. After the Civil War, Jed Colby (Noah Beery Sr.) goes to prison for murdering a Hayden, and the Hayden family heads to Nevada, leaving Lynn Hayden (Randolph Scott) behind to take care of the homestead. When Jed gets out of prison, he goes to Nevada, to seek revenge against the Haydens. Lynn is hot on his heels, hoping to stop the violence. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Lynn’s in love with Ellen Colby (Esther Ralston) and the two hope to marry.  I loved the final shootout, where people were actually reloading weapons, and the reloading took some time, just like it does in real life. The women are shooting as much as the men.

So, back to the clothing… no matter how bad an old movie might be, I can entertain myself looking at the fashions. Men’s. Women’s. Horse’s.

In this movie Randolph Scott wore buckskin. So did the heroine—and she
showed a fair amount of leg, even though the movie took place after the Civil War, probably in the very late 1860’s or early 1870’s. Was this accurate? Probably not–the leg part anyway. Nor were her 1930’s pencil thin eyebrows and semi-marceled hairdo accurate. But, since I love the 1930s, it was fun to see the 30’s influence on the 1870s fashions.

As you can see in the photo, Shirley Temple is in the film, as is a very young John Carradine.

If you want to catch To the Last Man, it’s available on YouTube.

 

Lucille Mulhall – The First Cowgirl

Lucille Mulhall was an anomaly—a small, feminine, soft-spoken girl who beat cowboys at their own game. After gaining acclaim as a Wild West performer, Lucille became the first woman commonly known as a cowgirl.

Lucille was born in Missouri in 1885. Her family relocated to Oklahoma to homestead during the land rush of 1889. The family started with 160 acres, which they eventually parlayed into the close to 80,000 acres.

As a young girl, Lucille rode the range with the cowhands, learning to rope, ride, and shoot. According to a New York Times article, “By the age of fourteen, she could break a bronco and shoot a coyote at five-hundred yards.”

Lucille’s father started a Wild West show, Mulhall’s Congress of Rough Riders and Ropers, in the early 1900s. Lucille starred in the show while still in her teens and became one of the first women to compete against men in roping and riding events and earned many championships, including three solid gold medals for steer roping in Texas, a cutting horse title and the title of World’s Champion Lady Roper.

When she performed in Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1905, she took the city by storm. A report in a New York newspaper said, “Against these bronzed and war-scarred veterans of the plains, a delicately featured blonde girl appeared. Slight of figure, refined and neat in appearance, attired in a becoming riding habit for hard riding, wearing a picturesque Mexican sombrero and holding in one hand a lariat of the finest cowhide, Lucille Mulhall comes forward to show what an eighteen-year-old girl can do in roping steers. In three minutes and thirty-six seconds, she lassoed and tied three steers. The veteran cowboys did their best to beat it, but their best was several seconds slower than the girl’s record breaking time. The cowboys and plainsmen who were gathered in large numbers to witness the contest broke into tremendous applause when the championship gold medal was awarded to the slight, pale-faced girl.”

As she gained fame, newspapers gave Lucille many names: Ranch Queen, Cowboy Girl, Female Conqueror or Beef and Horn, Lassoer in Lingerie, Dead Shot Girl, Daring Beauty of
the Plains, Queen of the Range. The name that stuck was Cowgirl.

Will Rogers was a member of Mulhall’s Wild West Show and helped Lucille hone her roping skills.  He wrote, “Lucille’s achievement in competition with cowboys was the direct start of what has since come to be known as The Cowgirl. Lucille was the first cowgirl.” Teddy Roosevelt also admired Lucille’s skills. He visited the Mulhall ranch and invited the Mulhall family to his inauguration. Geronimo gave her a beaded vest and Indian bow, which she treasured.

Lucille was a natural horse woman and known for her training abilities.She said, “My system of training consists of three things: patience, perseverance, and gentleness. Gentleness I consider one of the greatest factors in successful training.” Her horse, Governor, knew over forty tricks.

Lucille performed in other Wild West shows and toured Europe, performing for the crowned heads there.  She retired from world travel in 1917, but continued performing into the 1930s.

She was married twice, both marriages lasting only a few years.  Her first marriage produced a son. She died at the age of 55 in a car crash close to her home and was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the 1970s.