Vera McGinnis and Bonnie McCarroll (right), Rocky Ford, Colorado, 1919
Mary Ellen "Dot" Treadwell
|Died||September 29, 1929 (aged ca. 32)|
Pendleton, Oregon, USA
|Spouse(s)||Frank Leo McCarroll (married 1915-1929, her death)|
Bonnie McCarroll, born Mary Ellen "Dot" Treadwell (1897 – September 29, 1929), was a champion rodeo performer and bronc rider most remembered for her death at the Pendleton Round-up in Pendleton, Oregon. She also excelled in steer riding, bulldogging, and automobile jumping. In her riding career, McCarroll competed against such other women as Tad Lucas, Mabel Strickland, Fox Hastings, Dorothy Morrell (Robbins) and Florence Hughes.
McCarroll was born on a cattle ranch at High Valley, near Boise, Idaho, in 1897. In her early career, 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. After her death, rodeo officials instituted safety regulations and eliminated bronc riding as a women's sport.
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), a bulldogging performer, 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.
Frank McCarroll was born on a 1,250-acre (5.1 km2) 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."
In 2002, Bonnie McCarroll was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ann Ayres made a sculpture of McCarroll's 1915 horse-throwing accident at Pendleton. Many have mistaken her 1915 fall, photographed by Walter S. Bowman, with the fatal accident fourteen years later because both occurred at Pendleton.
In 2001, McCarroll was inducted to the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. In 2006, McCarroll was named to the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.
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