Mulhall, Oklahoma is not a town many would be able to locate on a map, nor is it a place where you will find a large population of people in modern day Oklahoma. However this sleepy town of less than 300 has a deep history and boasts the title of being the home of the first “cowgirl” in history.
The town began as a railroad station for the Santa Fe Railroad. Originally named Alfred, the town later had to be renamed following the land run because of other communities with similar names and confusion it caused as a result.
Seeking a new name, the town turned to one of the most boastful and larger than life residents, Zach Mulhall. At the time Mulhall hosted his own wild west stye show and traveled the country with rodeo like performances. His name was well known and the community found it to be a symbol of pride when they made the shift.
Mulhall had a daughter, Lucille, who was said to be able to hold her own on horseback. This led to her introduction to the world of rodeo through her fathers traveling shows. At the time, women were not welcomed into the arena as they are in more present days however her talent and presence were undeniable. She began to take center stage with her male counterparts and grew in popularity earning the title of the “World’s First Cowgirl”.
Lucille performed alongside the likes of Will Rogers and Tom Mix and was said to have learned her most well known skill of twirling from Rogers himself.
She went on to be recognized throughout the years in many publications and throughout her career held the title of World Champion Lariat Thrower. She performed in many arenas across the nation and even was asked to entertain the then President Theodore Roosevelt. Her title of Cowgirl transitioned into that of “Queen of the Saddle”, “Queen of the Western Prairie” and “Rodeo Queen” setting the stage for women of the future to compete and be a part of the phenomenon of the rodeo.
By 1916, she owned and produced her own traveling rodeo, no longer performing merely under her fathers platform. She was pioneer of the time in entertainment and by 1922 she returned to Mulhall to hang up her fame and settle down at her family’s ranch. Some years later, only a short distance from her ranch, she passed away in an auto accident ending the story of the “World’s First Cowgirl”.
Though she passed, her legacy still lives on today. She was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1975 and the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame in 1977. And in her humble hometown of Mulhall she is forever honored through an official Oklahoma Historical Marker along the main stretch of highway in downtown.
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