Mary Emma Manning Lillie “May Lillie”


2011 Cowgirl Inductee – Oklahoma

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(1869-1936)

Mary Emma Manning was considered to possess an untamed will, and married the famous Wild West showman and performer, Pawnee Bill, in 1886 who was nine years her senior. For her wedding gift she received a pony and a Marlin .22 target rifle. In 1888, they launched Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West show which later became the Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West Indian Museum and Encampment Show. May Lillie starred as a sharpshooter and expert “lady rider.” This Wild West show business, which she co-owned with her husband, at its peak employed 645 people, 400 horses and steers, a herd of twenty buffalo, elephants, and carriages. Lillie managed the ranch that held the buffalo. Under her direction the ranch thrived and she worked hard to promote the conservation of buffalo in the United States.