Monday, October 11, 2010

The Story Behind The Story - Making "Oh, You Cowgirl!"

It's been more than four years since I first learned of the cowgirls who came west as ranchers and homesteaders and the women of the wild west shows. It has become my passion and heart to bring their stories to as many people who  will listen. Their contribution to the history of the west along with what they have given generationally in spirit is important. I believe the courage, tenacity, strength and grit of these women has contributed, greatly and unselfishly to who we are as westerners and Americans. We can and have achieved so much and in many ways it is because of the women who, as stated in the film, ".... were more courageous than they had a right to be."

I grew up far from the plains and prairies, had not heard of any cowgirls other than Dale Evans and Annie Oakley - both great women in their own right, at  the time I began my research. Two weeks into my research about the early  cowgirls, I had a dream; A dirt road, tree to the left, an old ranch house with  a covered wooden porch waiting in front of me. I stepped up onto the wooden  planks, opened the door and the room was FILLED with wall to wall cowgirls! One  had a huge hat and about a year later, I identified her from a photograph as  Claire Belcher.

I walked up to the right to find a table filled with food - these women  were there for a celebration, party, gathering of some kind. A green screened porch door opened and an older woman walked in and over to me. Looking up at me with steel cut, determined eyes, she poked my arm  with her index finger with every word she spoke, "Shirley, you have to hurry up!" 

It would be nearly two years before I would be able to identify that woman. It was Dolly Eskew and I thought she wanted me to hurry up and write her  story.

It wasn't until the film was finished, about three weeks ago (September 2010) that the final piece of the puzzle came together for me. I was looking through some old  photographs furnished to me by C. B. Irwins g-grandson. I found one photo of an  old shed connected to the Y6 barn. It was the building where all the old  cowgirls were. They want their story told! That is what Dolly was telling me -  The old cowgirl and show woman was coming forth once again and looking out for these gals, many who were known as "Dolly's Girls" and had worked as rodeo  entertainers for the JE Ranch Rodeo. Others I finally identified as cowgirls, including Joella Irwin,  from Irwin Bros. Wild West.

I am committed to their stories and will continue my research and writing. The screenplay for the feature film is coming along nicely. I hope Oh, You  Cowgirl! will introduce a new generation to just how great and inspiring these  women were.

To inquire about showings and performances for "Oh, You Cowgirl!" and "Oh, You Cowgirl Live!" visit our website at

You can also purchase "Oh, You Cowgirl!" here:

Shirley Morris

"Oh, You Cowgirl!"

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