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He Pays a Tribute To An Old Friend And Showman

Hamilton Daily News, 10 Oct 1931

We lost a mighty fine old Western Character a few weeks ago. I know you all read in the papers about Col. Zack Mulhall dying, in Mulhall, Oklahoma, a town named for him, and in which he had been the leading citizen for many years.

My show career kinder dates from the time I first run into the Col. It was in 1899 at the St. Louis fair, (not the Worlds fair) just the big St. Louis fair they held every year. They had decided as an attraction that they would put on a Roping and Riding Contest. They were not called Rodeo's, or Stampedes, in those days they were just what they are, a "Roping and Riding Contest." Well I was pretty much of a Kid, but had just happened to have won the first and about my only Contest at home in Claremore, Okla., and then we read about them wanting entries for this big Contest at St. Louis.

Well some one sent in my name, and the first thing I knew I was getting transportation for myself and pony to the affair. Well I went and Col. Zack Mulhall had charge of it. He was then, and had been for years, the Genreal Live Stock Agent for the Frisco Railroad System. That was a very important job in those days, for it took in all the live stock shipments on their whole line. He knew every big cattleman in the Southwest, and almost everybody else. I didn't get very far in this St. Louis Contest. I made the serious mistake of catching my steer and he immediately Jerked me and my Pony down for our trouble.

But that gave me a touch of "Show Business" In a way, (so that meant I was ruined for life as far as actual employment was concerned. He had a couple of Daughters, Miss "Bossy" and Lucille. Bossy was quite a good rider but never took it up in the professional way that little Lucille did. Lucille was just a little kid when we were in St. Louis that year, but she was riding and running her Pony all over the place, and that was incidentally her start, too. It was not only her start, but it was the direct start of what has since came to be known as the Cowgirl. There was no such a thing or no such a word up to then as Cowgirl. But as Col. Mulhall from that date drifted into the professional end of the Contest and show business, why Lucille gradually come to the front, and you can go tell the world that his youngest Daughter Lucille Mulhall was the flrst well-known Cowgirl.

She became a very expert roper, and was the first girl that could rope and tie a Steer, not only do it but do it in such time that it would make a good roper hustle to beat her. He also had a younger son Charley yhat was afterwards a very good Bucking Horse rider. Charley is now out around Hollywood and works in the Movies. After that Contest and a few others around the Country that he promoted, why I drifted off to South America and around the rest of the universe awhile, and when I got back it was the fall before the start of the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904.

Well, I went out to Mulhall from Claremore a lot that fall and winter rehearsing and practicing for the big show which he was to have at the fair for the whole year. I lived with the family at Mulhall. The Colonel had always kinder seemed to like me, and I thought a lot of the family. His wife Mrs. Mulhall will always be remembered by me as just about as fine a character as I have ever known. She was a grand old Lady. She had many trials and hardships, but she stood up under them like a Saint. It was a family of great devotion. The Colonel thought a lot of these Children, and they of their parents. Lucille never dressed like the Cowgirl you know today, no loud colors, no short leather skirts, and great big hat, no sir, her skirt was divided, but long, of grey broadcloth, small stiff brim hat, and always white silk shirt waist.

They were received by the best people in every place. The Girls could have had a Society career if they had preferred. She received more Publicity than has fallen to the lot of any one you have today, perhaps as much as Sister "Aimee," and all favorable. We were in St. Louis during the whole summer of the fair, with the "Cummlngs and Mulhall Wild West Show on the Pike." The following year he took a small picked bunch of us to the Madison Square Garden, to work as an added attraction with the Horse Show. Lucille his daughter was the big attraction. New York had read of her but never seen a Cowgirl. Our show was a big success In connection with the Horse Show. With my little Roping act I was lucky enough to get on the stage with it direct from the Garden.

The Col. had no fakes. Every boy was a real one. His Shows were of the very best. Neatness was one of his hobbys. His life was miserable trying to keep me presentable. "Look at the Injun ,(he always called me Injun), he won't wear a silk shirt, and I have bought him a dozen!" He was generous to a fault. When Col. Mulhall had money, we were all rich. When he didn't, well you wouldn't hardly know it. He never hollered; he never squealed; he took the misfortune with a smile.

Being such a liberal spender, and in his older years naturally not able to earn so well, why he had hard luck, but he didn't broadcast it to the world. He always mainlined his dignity. There was a lot of class to the Mulhall outfit, none of your cheap show stuff, they were always the Mulhall family, the family of southern distinction NOT the Mulhall Family of Show business. He did many a favor for many persons. When he had it you had it. The business of making amusement for the world which he adopted was not kind in the long run to him and his. They deserved a happier finish, for no one of them ever harmed a soul, they dealt fair, but didn't always receive their breaks themselves.

We have no one to replace the old fellow. He is nf the rugged old Cowman type that is passing out. Lucille is left alone on the old Ranch place at Mulhall. Lucille Mulhall, whose name has blazed across more paper than most public men attain in a long lifetime. The first Cowgirl, one that could do something, not pose, but ride and rope, the only Girl that ever rode a horse exactly like a man (I mean a real Hand). She Is left alone with her memories, and they should be happy, for she has given more than she has received. It's not a bad legacy to leave, the Best Horsewoman in America. The old Col. has gone to book another Contest, and I can hear him holler, "Come on Boys let's give 'em a real show, a Mulhall Show! Lucille now Baby, rope like you never roped before! Injun wake up and get in there!"

(Copyright, 1931, by the McNaught Syndicate, Inc.)

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