Jump to: navigation, search

Bonnie McCarroll

Bonnie McCarroll
Born Mary Ellen "Dot" Treadwell
High Valley near Boise
Idaho, USA
Died September 29, 1929 (aged ca. 32)
Pendleton, Oregon, USA
Residence Boise, Idaho
Occupation Rodeo performer
Spouse(s) Frank Leo McCarroll (married 1915-1929, her death)
McCarroll's death in an accident at the Pendleton Round-Up led to the cancellation of women's bronc riding in rodeo competition.
Bonnie McCarroll thrown from "Silver" at the September 1915 Pendleton Round-Up

Bonnie McCarroll, born Mary Ellen "Dot" Treadwell (1897-September 29, 1929), was a champion rodeo performer and bronc rider most remembered for her tragic death at the Pendleton Round-up in Pendleton, Oregon. She also excelled in steer riding, bulldogging, and automobile jumping.[1] In her riding career, McCarroll competed with such other female performers as Tad Lucas, Mabel Strickland, Fox Hastings, and Florence Hughes.[2]

McCarroll was born on a cattle ranch at High Valley, near Boise, Idaho. In 1922, she won two cowgirl bronc riding championships at both Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the first rodeo hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In 1915, her first year of rodeo competition, McCarroll attracted national attention from a photograph taken of her being thrown from the horse named "Silver" at the Pendleton Round-Up. In her career, she performed before kings, queens, such dignitaries as U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, while he was vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1927, and before countless rodeo fans worldwide.[3] After her death, rodeo officials instituted safety regulations and eliminated bronc riding as a women's sport.[1]

McCarroll referred to her early years in learning to ride broncos: "My Papa handed me the rein and told me to ride. I covered that bucker from all sides, for about three seconds.........and awoke in my bed. I heard the sound of spurs, but not like walking, like singing. I hunted for the sound and finally opened my eyes. My Papa was setting across from my bed with one leg crossed over the other. He was spinning his spur in one hand and fumbling his hat in the other. When he saw my eyes open he leaned in and said 'you loosened up on your grip, don't do it again, you'll get hurt!' He put his hat on and walked out, leaving me to lick my wounds, in my own good time. And I suspect I will never forget."[2]

The Pendleton Round-Up of September 1929 was to have been McCarroll's final competition, for she had planned to retire with her husband, Frank Leo McCarroll (September 5, 1892–March 8, 1954), also a bulldogging performer,[4] to their home in Boise. While giving a bronc riding exhibition, she was suddenly thrown from her mount, "Black Cat". The animal turned a somersault upon her. She was rushed to a hospital but died later of her spinal wounds and pneumonia.[5]

Frank McCarroll was born on a 1,250-acre farm in Morris, Minnesota. He left home at thirteen, having drifted to North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho, where he became a boxer and wrestler. He also took a business course in Butte, Montana. In 1911, while in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he wrestled his first steer and won a $1 bet. Soon in rodeo competition, he broke the world record for bulldogging in Boise in 1913, at which time he met the 16-year-old "Bonnie" Treadwell. Frank McCarroll won championships in steer wrestling at Pendleton twice, Chicago three times, Cheyenne once, Detroit once, St. Louis once, Fort Worth twice, and three times at Madison Square Garden. After Bonnie's death, he became involved as a stuntman and uncredited actor in such films as The Man from Hell and Romance Revier. He died at the age of sixty-one from an accidental fall at his home in Burbank, California. Frank referred to Bonnie, who weighed from 95 to 112 pounds, as "the best little cook in the world and some dressmaker, too."[6]

In 2002, Bonnie McCarroll was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A limited-edition bronze sculpture by Ann Ayres of McCarroll's 1915 horse-throwing accident at Pendleton is available through the Bow-Legged Cowboy Rustic Furnishings and Art Gallery in Krum near Denton, Texas. Many have mistaken her 1915 fall with the fatal accident fourteen years later because both occurred at Pendleton.[7]

In 2006, McCarroll was named to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.[3]



Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...