Tuesday, October 4, 2011

THOSE RODEO COWGIRLS

Alrighty then...since two of you have asked who the cowgirls in the header picture are... 

 From left to right they are: Reine Hafley, Fox Hastings, Rose Smith, Ruth Roach, Mabel Strickland, Prairie Rose Henderson and Dorothy Morrell.
(side note: I don't think the date on the photo is correct, more likely in the late 1920's)
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An outstanding trick rider and bronc rider and daughter of California Frank Hafley, Reine Hafley Shelton (1902-1979) born Elba Reine Skepper at Janesville, Wisconsin, was called the World’s Greatest Lady Trick Rider. For a time she performed a highly successful act with an Arabian horse named Lurline in which they would jump 50 feet into a tank of water. With California Frank’s show, Shelton performed trick and bronc riding, as an elephant rider and an oriental and flamenco dancer. In 1918 she began her competitive career placing second in the trick riding at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Shelton earned over $125 by winning the bronc riding event at Madison Square Garden in 1924. In 1925 she eloped with Dick Shelton while he was performing with Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Shelton was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1983 and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1991.
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Eloise Fox Hastings (1882-1948), born Eloise Fox, ran away from a convent school at the age of 16 to marry rodeo cowboy Mike Hastings. Bulldogging was her favorite event. She dropped the name Eloise and remained Fox Hastings her entire career. Fox Hastings performed trick and bronc riding in her early years with the Irwin Brothers’ Wild West Show. Fox first exhibited her bulldogging skills in 1924 at the Fort Worth, Texas Rodeo and established a record time of 17 seconds. She continued to bulldog at more than a dozen rodeos, including the revived 101 Ranch Wild West, in that year. She excelled in this exhibition event and became the foremost cowgirl contract performer in this field. In the 1940s she developed tuberculosis. Shortly after her second husband died in 1948, she died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Hastings was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1987.
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Rose Smith, wife of legendary cowboy Oklahoma Curley Roberts. Hailed as one of the famous cowgirl bronc riders of the 1920s, Rose Smith was also an accomplished trick rider. In 1923 at Ringling’s Madison Square Garden contest, she won $960, including the $600 first prize in bronc riding, $185 day money (daily prizes), and $175 in the costume event.
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Ruth Roach (1896-1986) born Ruth Scantlin, grew up in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Running away from her Missouri home in 1912, Ruth Roach joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and later performed with the show in London, England. Her competitive debut came in 1917 at the Fort Worth Roundup, the first indoor rodeo. There she rode the bronc, Memphis Blue, and claimed the $100 first-place prize. In 1919 she captured first-place finishes in the Fort Worth and Cheyenne bronc riding contests and in 1920 was named champion lady bronc rider of Chicago’s 1920 Roundup. She performed before President Warren Harding in 1923 at Washington, DC. The following year she performed in Tex Austin’s rodeo in London, where at Wembley Stadium as many as 92,000 fans attended the first performance. In 1932 she was the cowgirl champion in the bronc riding at Madison Square Garden winning $526. While she continued to rodeo through 1938, this was her last major title. Roach was inducted into both the Rodeo Hall of Fame and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1989.
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 Mabel De Long Strickland (1897-1976) was born in Washington State. She began her rodeo career in 1912. A winning relay racer, Mabel, won the 1913 through 1915 trick riding competitions at Walla Walla, Washington riding with the Drumhellers, horsemen and rodeo producers. Married to Hugh Strickland, Mabel won her first steer roping contest at the Dewey Roundup with a record time of 21.2 seconds. Winner of the McAlpin trophy for all-around cowgirl at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1922, Strickland won the trick riding competition at Madison Square Garden in 1922, 1923, and 1924. In 1927 she set a steer roping record at the Pendleton Roundup and was named the Roundup Queen. Perhaps the most photographed cowgirl of her era, Strickland played a bit part in a Bing Crosby movie entitled “Rhythm on the Range” in 1936. Later she did “replacement riding” (stunt riding) for actresses in the movies. Strickland was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1981 and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1992
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Prairie Rose Henderson, was declared one of the all-time great winners excelling as a bronc rider. For the details of this twisted tale see:
http://thecowgirlmovie.com/who_was_prairie_rose 
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Dorothy Morrell (1888-?), born Dolla Eichorn in Canada, was judged World’s Champion Cowgirl Bronc Rider in 1914 at the Pendelton Roundup. She was married to “Skeeter” Bill Robbins. For more information see:
http://dorothymorrell.blogspot.com/

10 comments:

  1. What an impressive bunch of ladies. What drew you to them?

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  2. I am sure they will make a movie about at least one or two of them if they haven't already! Were you related to any one of them?

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  3. I have always loved that picture. I had no idea they were actual cowgirls. I am amazed that they wrestled steers and rode broncs and yet remained lovely ladies.
    There is a novel in each ladies life that some one needs to write.
    Curious if any were your kin also.

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  4. Andreas, They were so outside the norm for their time...and it couldn't have been easy.
    Tabor, No relations, just a kindred spirit... I hope.

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  5. I have a postcard with that picture but no more than the most basic of data. Thank you for filling in their lives. There go we, if we'd been born a hundcred years or so ago.

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  6. Hi Brighid,

    Go ahead, of course you may send it on, but I am glad you asked first. Will you credit me, please?

    I've just gone over your blog and I very much like what I see; pity I can't follow you.

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  7. Pretty cool - I have wondered who those ladies were.
    Thanks

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  8. Ooooh, I'll be they were SUCH FUN to know, what a great bunch of characters, I'm sure they ruffled a lot of feathers in their day, too.

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  9. Reine is my brother in laws grandmother and it is some amazing history!

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