In the 1890s, one of the best-known cowgirls of the Dakotas was a 16-year-old named Myrtle Morrison. Myrtle got a taste for the life of a cowgirl, when a neighboring cowboy convinced her to try to ride a pony that had only been ridden once before. The wild little animal pitched her off three times before she successfully brought him under control. But the thrill of victory was such that she took immediately to the life of a cowgirl.
One incident repeated in the newspapers was the story of Myrtle’s saving her little sister, Jennie’s, life. The story goes that Myrtle was driving cattle past their home, when Jennie carelessly ran out to greet her. A long-horned Texas steer took exception to the move and rushed the child with head lowered. Myrtle screamed to her sister to run, but the steer was steadily gaining ground. Cooly, Myrtle lassoed the steer’s horns, looping the lariat around her own saddle horn. As her trained horse stopped short, the steer turned a complete somersault, giving Jennie time to escape to the house.
Myrtle went on to break broncos, brand cattle and marry a cowboy named Frank DuPree. The story of their courtship also made headlines.
They were out riding when they encountered a herd of buffalo. DuPree, wanting to show off, rode alongside a huge buffalo, then suddenly sprang from his saddle to the buffalo’s back. The buffalo herd, spooked by his foolhardy action, stampeded across the prairie, leaving Frank no choice but to hang on and pray that he did not fall off as he would be crushed by the stampeding animals.
After about two miles, the animals came to a deep, narrow wash. Frank saw his chance and managed to slip off the buffalo’s back into the ravine. Shortly after his escape, Myrtle rode up with his horse in tow. She had lassoed in while he was on his wild ride.