Slim and Franke

Slim and Franke
Happy New Year

Thursday, January 10, 2008


My mother, aunts, uncle, and my grandparents from Ponca City, Oklahoma would often talk about the 101 Ranch and the historic significance it added to their active oil town in Oklahoma. The story my mother loved most was of a wealthy Aunt who came to visit from Pennsylvania. Her main goal was to visit the 101 Ranch. This Aunt returned from her delightful 101 Ranch outing with stories of authentic cowboys and Indians. She had purchased Indian blankets, only to turn one over and see a tag that read, “Sears”.

The tales of cowboys and Indians and the significant contributions to Rodeo brought by African American Cowboy Bill Pickett are most well known. He is said to be credited for creating “bulldogging”. Now I am being introduced to the cowgirls of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, not from a Ponca City author but from Monica James, an Arizona gun competitor and Fast Draw champion who wrote
BUCKSKIN BESSIE HER LOST LETTERS. These historic letters were found in a trunk at an estate sale and Monica James was their perfect rescuer.

Each letter is published in script type but there are actual samples of Bessie’s handwriting. Colorful Bessie's terminology is sometimes crude, but her penmanship is beautiful!. Monica James has researched each letter and given information, documentation and photographs galore to authenticate each entry as well as create even greater mysteries in the mind of the readers.

I met Monica James through my blogging. I was astonished to learn she had written and published this book on one of my favorite topics. She has given us an extraordinary glimpse into the life of a talented Western cowgirl and the glory of the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show.

I only wish I had found this book before mother died. I know she would have loved it. Mother read every Western novel she could get her hands on. She took marksmanship in college and won ribbons for her skills. Television westerns were her favorites and John Wayne was her personal hero. I wonder now if her love of the Wild West stemmed from her life in Ponca under the glamorous legacy of the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show. .

A recent article in Oklahoma Living Magazine, August, 2007 by Kathy Holsonbake, quoted Al Ritter, a member of the 101 Ranch Old Timers’ Association, “ The 10l Ranch was ahead of its time with it’s hiring practices. They gave women jobs before women could vote. The cowgirls were pioneers in showmanship and physical activities in the arena.” These letters by Bessie Herberg certainly emphasize the special kind of woman these cowgirls had to be.

Thank you Monica James for putting together this wonderful book! I feel as if I have personally met Buckskin Bessie and she was quite a character for her time. I have finished this book with a feeling of a beginning rather than an ending. Now we need a movie or a History Channel Special.


  1. I read your whole post but all I kept thinking was,"I used to live in Ponca City Oklahoma!" I was in the third and fourth grade! That is so not what your whole post was about but I'm a dork so I had to share.

  2. Thank you for such a wonderful review! May I have permission to add it to my web site?
    I will be chatting with you more via email.

  3. Anonymous10:25 AM

    You sound like such a fascinating person, Annie! I love a good Western novel, too. I'm so glad Michele sent me over here today. Nice to meet you. Have a great weekend.


  4. Annie, I was watching a movie, just last week, where they mentioned Bill Pickins and his "bulldogging". For the life of me, I can't think of the name of the movie. I like cowboy movies too and was always facinated with Wild Bill Hickock and Annie Oakley. Thanks for the post.

  5. So, OGO, I assume you climbed on the Pioneer Woman? Everyone in Ponca did.

    Yes Monica, by all means, link to this post.

    LGOE, thanks for dropping by. I'll head over your way too.

    Lucy, if you remember the movie, let me know. Also, my nickname to many is still Annie O. for Annie Oakley. I had pigtails and everything as a kid.

  6. G'day from Australia,

    Love the story of the Sears tag!

  7. I'm catching up reading your posts! I loved the picture of you and your siblings! I couldn't possibly guess the answers to all the questions though. They certainly sound like wonderful folks and I'm sure they are.

    I love the chicken pictures too. If I lived where I could have chickens, I would have some. Sorry they are confused by the weather changes though!

    When I was growing up I always wanted to be a cowgirl! I always loved horses and anything to do with them. The same applies for a horse too; if I had a place to keep one I'd have one (or more!)

  8. hi annie! thanks for sharing this great piece of female history. i LOVE catching glimpses into our past there's sooo much to know. while your mom didn't experience this revelation here on earth with you, i'm sure she's experiencing it in spirit through you. nice post, girlie!


  9. Sounds like a wonderful book! I can't wait to read it.
    You are a great reviewer.

  10. I wish I knew what was up with Sprinkle. I was excited to have her back but now she's disappeared again. *sigh*