Prairie Rose Henderson — Early Cowgirl

Prairie Rose was born Ann Robbins, in the 1870s, to a Wyoming ranching couple. She grew up breaking horses for her parents and neighbors and dreamed of becoming a cowgirl.  She became one of the first professional women athletes in the world when she won the first Cheyenne Frontier Days race for women in August 23, 1899.  The prize: a $45 dollar saddle.  By 1906 cowgirls were bronc riding and relay racing. While she was primarily a bronc riderr she also participated in relay racing, flat racing, roping and trick riding.

In addition to performing at rodeos, Prairie Rose joined the Irwin Brothers Wild West Show.  She became famous for her sensational riding clothes, dubbed “Turkish Trousers”.  She was known for designing her own outrageous costumes which, with her exuberant personality and winning smile, increased her popularity.  In addition to her broad-brimmed hat she wore knee-length bloomers covered by a skirt trimmed in feathers, a blouse trimmed in sequins and chiffon, stockings and cowboy boots.

Prairie Rose was married three times.  It isn’t known whether the first marriage ended in divorce or by her husband’s demise.  In 1925 she married a trick roper and they moved to Arizona to perform in silent westerns.  The second marriage failed and she returned to Wyoming where she met her third husband, Charles Coleman, in 1929.  She retired from the rodeo circuit at that time and settled on a ranch near Rawlins, Wyoming with her new husband.

Charles had, at age 34, fought with a man who suffered a broken neck and died.  He pled not guilty and charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence.  Apparently his wild ways continued because in 1932 he was jailed for cattle rustling.  He several months jail time, in Rawlins, Wyoming. 

It was during this time that Prairie Rose went missing. It was thought that she’d lost her way in the timber and snow during a blizzard.  Her body never turned up in the ensuing search nor was there any evidence of foul play.

Six and a half years after her disappearance, her skeleton was found by a firefighter in an area threatened by fire.  It was determined that, although she was familiar with the area, she became disoriented in the blizzard and had wandered to the opposite side of the mountain  

Some have reported  that Prairie Rose can still be heard calling for help on stormy nights.

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2 comments on “Prairie Rose Henderson — Early Cowgirl

  1. your blog sure does rank high in bing for some keyphrases,thats how i got here and i must say it deserves the rankings.really liked this post.

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