Amarillo’s Forgotten History: The Burlesque Dancer Who Loved The Irish Gambler
Every one has a romantic vision of the wild west. Gunslingers, saloons, women of the night, and every other Hollywood trope fill the imagination. The story of Frenchy McCormick is a classic wild west tale of romance right here in the panhandle, with a surprise twist at the end.
The Legend of a Burlesque Dancer Named Frenchy
According to legend, Frenchy left home as a teenage girl to dance burlesque in St. Louis. In true wild west fashion, she even found herself dancing in Dodge City.
Legends state that Frenchy, whose real name is believed to be Elisabeth McGraw, was given the nickname because she could speak French and had some background in Louisiana.
She would eventually meet an Irish gambler named Mickey McCormick. According to the tales, Mickey swore he never lost while Frenchy was by his side. He would soon ask her to accompany him back to Tascosa, which at the time was the cowboy capitol of the panhandle.
Madly in Love and Dealing Cards
In Tascosa, she would deal Monte in the rooms Mickey operated. They would wind up getting married in 1881. It was a true western romance; the gambler and the dancing girl
Eventually the good times in Tascosa would dry up thanks to the railroad bypassing the town. They lost their business, and wound up living in an Adobe house. Their love for one another, though, never faltered.
Hard Times Get Even Harder for Frenchy
This is where Frenchy and the love shared between her and Mickey becomes the stuff of legend. Tascosa eventually was a ghost town, and after Mickey died she refused to leave his graveside. For some twenty-seven years she lived there, alone.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, she lived there without electricity or running water. Her house was falling apart and her health was failing when she was moved. She left on the one condition that she would be brought back to be buried next to Mickey.
Frenchy McCormick; Last of the girls of the Golden West
Frenchy died in '41 and was buried next to Mickey. She was referred to as one of the last girls of the Golden West.
Eventually the old town site of Tascosa would be taken over. It was taken over by Cal Farely's Boys Ranch, who honored Frenchy by making a headstone for her grave.