This post strikes a personal chord as it’s linked to the history of my grandmother, Hetty Morris Stanley (nee Spicer). While I never met her in person, I knew of her through family lore as a “goer”-slang for an adventurous person who likes to go places-and an Oklahoma flapper who went to parties at Ponca City’s fêted Marland Mansion. (1) But there was a side of her history that I did not know about until fairly recently…
…last year I learned from my brother George that she also worked at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch in Ponca City, a working ranch best known for its Wild West Show that opened after the closure of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (2) We don’t know exactly what work she did there, and I knew very little about the ranch until I started reading about its history this year, but I found it fascinating and wanted to learn more.
In my research, I found out about the acclaimed Black cowboy Bill Pickett, “The Dusky Demon” of the 101 Ranch (see previous blog post). I also came to know the ranch as a place that featured cowgirls who roped, rode, and performed daring stunts in the vein of the famed Annie Oakley. Some of the acts traveled the country and worldwide for the show, which was like the Western answer to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and played a role in the romanticized image of the West as a land of daring, dueling “Cowboys and Indians.”
The 101 Ranch ignited the careers of such famed show cowgirls as Lulu Bell Parr (3), Goldie Griffith, and film cowboy Tom Mix (4) as well as Will Rogers (5). While I always thought of her as a woman who enjoyed adventure, parties, and road trips, knowing that Hetty played a part on the 101 Ranch added another level of interest to her story. After her ranch and party days, she went on to marry my grandfather, William Morris, and give birth to my late father, Thomas Spicer Morris. The rest is history, but it’s a part of history that will forever be of intrigue to me.
(1) For more info on the Marland Mansion, see this site: https://www.marlandmansion.com/
(2) Thank you to George Morris for this information.
(3) Chris Enss. “Wild Women of the Wild West: Lulu Bell Parr.” Cowgirl Magzine May 16, 2018. Accessed 8 March 2021. https://cowgirlmagazine.com/lulu-bell-parr/
(4) Author unknown. “Visiting Tom Mix in Mixville.” The Last of the Wild West Cowgirls: A Biography of Bronco Buster Goldie Griffith. February 10, 2011. Accessed 8 March 2021. http://lastwildwestcowgirl.com//?s=101+Ranch&x=0&y=0
(5) Author unknown. “101 Ranch Show Had Movie Stars and Geronimo.” International Showman’s Museum October 11, 2013. Accessed 8 March 2021. https://showmensmuseum.org/wild-west-shows/101-ranch-wild-west-show/