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MCCORMICK, FRENCHY

MCCORMICK, FRENCHY (ca. 1852–1941). Frenchy McCormick, a subject of Texas folklore whose real name was probably Elizabeth McGraw, was born about 1852 in the vicinity of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She refused to disclose any information on her background, intending that no one would ever know who she was, but was well-educated and apparently of Irish descent. As a teenager she ran away from home to perform on the burlesque stage in St. Louis and in the dance halls and saloons of Dodge City. According to tradition a cowboy gave her the nickname Frenchy because of her Louisiana background and ability to speak French. Around 1880 she met Mickey McCormick, an Irish gambler and livery-stable operator from Tascosa, Texas, at the gaming tables in Mobeetie. Mickey claimed that he always won when Frenchy was beside him, and she accompanied him to Tascosa. This town was in its heyday as the cowboy capital of the Panhandle, and there Frenchy became the reigning belle. She dealt monte in the gambling rooms that Mickey operated behind a saloon and entertained the colorful personalities who passed through. She and Mickey were married in 1881.

After the railroad bypassed Tascosa in 1887 the town declined steadily, and the McCormicks lost their business. They continued to live in a small adobe house on Atascosa Creek, and their devotion to each other acquired an aura of romantic legend. Mickey died in 1912 and was buried in the Casimero Romero Cemetery half a mile east of the cabin. Tascosa was deserted when Vega became the county seat in 1915, but Frenchy refused to leave her husband's graveside. She lived alone in the ghost town for twenty-seven years, without electricity or running water, steadfastly insisting that the town would come back some day. With her health failing and her house crumbling into ruin, she allowed herself to be removed to Channing in 1939, on the condition that she be brought back to join her husband after death. She died on January 12, 1941, and was buried beside Mickey in Tascosa. Frenchy McCormick was romanticized in the Panhandle as the last of the girls of the Golden West. Years later the residents of Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, which took over the old townsite, erected a headstone for her grave.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

John L. McCarty, Maverick Town: The Story of Old Tascosa (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946; enlarged ed. 1968). "Texas Women: A Celebration of History" Archives, Texas Woman's University, Denton.

Judith N. McArthur

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Judith N. McArthur, "MCCORMICK, FRENCHY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc21), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.