It all started in Oklahoma Territory. Back in the land rush of 1889, Zack Mulhall managed to snag a section of land to start his own ranch. Realizing that the world was eager to see the ropers and riders, he organized his own traveling show and thus the Congress of the Rough Riders and Ropers was born. He used his connections with his friend Teddy Roosevelt to help promote it. An unlikely star emerged from this traveling show…..our own Lucille, who happened to be Zack’s 14 year old daughter. She competed against men in the roughest events when women were supposed to be doing women’s work. She had spunk, talent and charisma and she was loved for it. And as legend goes, an unknown cowboy named Will Rogers, who also performed in the shows, dubbed her “the first cowgirl.”
Folks came to see her wrestle and wrangle ranch stock often two or three times her own size. They loved her series of rope stunts and present trained horses. She went on to become the first female rodeo producer of her own Wild West Show. Breaking social norms wherever she went, Lucille was a show-woman and inspiration.
Tragically, Lucille died in a car accident in 1940. She was the embodiment of charm and strength. She was girl power before there was girl power. Lucille is remembered for her spirit, fearlessness and rodeo expertise. Truly she was the first and led the way…..the first cowgirl.
Images of the Tragic Fire in 2009: