Cowboy Extraordinary

John W. Mullins, 1884 – 1978

Johnnie Mullins, cowboy extraordinary, began his career as a cowboy early, and quit late.  The early part began when he joined his oldest brother, Ed Mullins, on a big ranch in Wagoner, Indian Territory, belonging to Gibson Baldridge, Naylor, and Jones.  Johnnie arrived on the midnight train.  Ed and his cowboys, and an extra horse, were there to meet him. It did not take him long to saddle that extra horse, and, together they all rode out to the ranch in a down pour of rain.  Johnnie has been riding horses ever since, in sunshine and rain, in cold and hot weather.

Early the next morning they all rode back in town again to meet a train load of cattle that came in during the night.  Brother Ed took Johnnie to a saddle shop where he bought him anew saddle, blanket, bridle, spurs, and a rope. Then, for his personal adornment, he bought him a pair of boots and a Stetson hat.  Thus adorned and equipped, Johnnie Mullins began his first lessons in the Cowboy School of Hard Knocks.  Classes opened early and held late. Sometimes the “late” seemed to run into the “early” so much so he was not quite sure whether he was coming in to go to bed, or setting up to go to work. But, early or late, he was always on time for classes.

In his brother, Ed, Johnnie had a wonderful example of a very capable cowman and cowboy, and one who was tops as a teacher.  Their text books were forty thousand head of cattle to look after and study. That was the number of cattle they usually ran on the ranch each year. So there were plenty of “text books” to look at and plenty to learn.  To manage such an outfit you had to be tops.  Johnnie determined to be a top cowhand, and so he did.  Of his brother Ed, he said, “Ed was considered to be the best man on a horse I ever saw.  His hobby was good cutting horses.  He had about a dozen of the best cutting horses I ever saw in my life.  If he heard of a good cutting horse, no matter who owned it, or what the price, he would buy it.  The Blue Springs Outfit had a good horse, a Dunn, called ‘Johnson,’ which he bought.  He bought two bay horses from another fellow, also two gray horses.”

Johnnie continued, “After a trip to South Texas, one of the owners told Ed that one of the best cutting horses he ever saw was in Gonzales, Texas.  The outfit often shipped cattle they had bought in south and southwest Texas to Oklahoma.  Ed told him, next time you have a shipment coming this way from there, buy that horse for me and bring him along with them.  The man asked Ed what he wanted to pay for him.  Ed replied, “It doesn’t make any difference what the price is, get him.”  And so they did.  Johnnie looked this horse over when he came and this was his reaction, “He’s the sorriest looking horse I ever sawbut he’s the fastest and the quickest moving horse I ever saw. He could out run any horse I ever saw.”

Ed tried to have his cowboys so well trained that, in case he was called away elsewhere to look over a bunch of cattle, he could ask most any of them to look after things while he was gone and they could do it.  It is not any wonder that Ed married the daughter of Mr. Gibson, one of the owners of the ranch, and Ed’s boss.

Four years have now passed, and Johnnie is now eighteen years old. His four years of class work “studying” those forty thousand head of cattle and all that went with the process of taking care of them, he began to feel the call to get out on his own and go elsewhere.  Another thing he learned from Ed was to never ask his fellow cowboys their names, or inquire too closely into their affairs.  If they voluntarily saw fit to tell him their full names, well and good, but don’t inquire into their past.  You see there were some pretty rough characters in the Indian Territory in those days.  So, at the end of four years, Johnnie “graduated” from his four year course in this well equipped “Cowboy College of Hard Knocks,” with honors, Class of 1902. He could now place several degrees, or letters, after his name.  He was a B.B. (bronc buster) an S.R. (steer roper) and a T.R. (Trick Rider), plus another T.R. (Trick Roper) and a “general practitioner” in the art of cowboying.

Feeling in his heart that call for a change of scenery and a desire to go out on his own, he took a brief holiday with his folks and his old home surroundings in Granbury, Texas, and then drifted out to New Mexico.  There he found a place to try out his skills with the JAL Cattle Company.  He stayed with them about a year.  Evidently he gave a good demonstration of his prowess, for several years later when he again returned to New Mexico, he joined the force of the JAL Cattle Company and worked for them three years, breaking horses.

Leaving the JAL Cattle Company Johnnie now headed North.  He drifted along until he found himself in South Dakota, where he was employed by the Turkey Tracks Cattle Outfit, and stayed with them for a year. Note his description of his surroundings while with this outfit:  “The most western style town I ever saw was Everett, South Dakota. It was a town of about three hundred population.  It had one mercantile store, seven saloons, all wide open, one little old restaurant, a little old hotel that had about ten or fifteen rooms.  I have seen seven or eight ranch wagons camped within a radius of a mile, waiting for cattle to come in that were shipped from the south in the Spring of the year.  These wagons would be there from a week to ten days.  With each wagon there would be ten to fifteen men, which would add up to a lot of men for a little town like that, and with that many saloons, business was good. Yet I never saw any trouble there at all.  The cowboys would come into a saloon and turn their six-shooters over to the bartender, who would make a stack of them about two feet high. Cowboys did not wear a six-shooter to be mean, he wore it for protection from rattlesnakes, or other animals, or to shoot an old cow that was down that would never get up again, and would just lie there until she starved to death.  They did not wear a gun to be mean, but for emergencies.”

     But we are getting ahead of our story.  In the next few paragraphs we will have a look at Johnnie Mullins before he entered the Cowboy College of Hard Knocks.  Johnnie Mullins did not take that course by correspondence, every day of his cowboy schooling was real, down to earth (sometimes literally) cowboying.

Johnnie Mullins was born in Granbury, Texas, August 27, 1884, the tenth child of a pioneer family.  His father’s name was Thomas Patrick Mullins, whose great grandfather came over from England to America in 1621, his name was Morgan Mullins.  Morgan Mullins had a brother, William Mullins, who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620.  He was the father of Priscilla Mullins, who married John Alden, the one to whom she spoke the now famous words, “Speak for yourself, John.”

Johnnie’s mother was Nannie Terrell Mullins, the daughter of Edward S. Terrell, one of the first, if not the first, settler in Fort Worth.

Hood County was filled with many farm-ranch set-ups rather than big ranches that might fill most of the county.  There were a few rather large ranches, but for the most part they were small.  Being just a short distance from the cattle market in Ft. Worth, many dealt in cattle in a small way for that reason.  With his brother Ed running a big cow outfit, and his brothers Sam and Tom engaged in the cattle business, and with his mother’s pioneer background, it is no wonder that Johnnie became interested in life as a cowboy. His father died when he was eight years old, leaving his mother with nine children.  It required close cooperation between the mother and children that were at home to keep the family together.  The family did keep together, which speaks well for their cooperative effort.

Johnnie attended the public school of Granbury, located just a few blocks east of his home and on the same street.  With his boyhood friends they would go to the Brazos River, to the old Three Rocks Swimming Hole or some other place in the Brazos, to swim. They played on the branch that ran west and north of his home. Comanche Peak loomed up to the south, about five or six miles away.  It was always a pleasant diversion to ramble over its wooded sides and flat top.  Johnnie and Charlie Osborne, a close neighbor, were fast friends, where one went the other was sure to go.  More than likely they “inspected” some of the not too distant watermelon patches of those that were ripe.

When Johnnie had finished the eighth grade, the opportunity came to join his brother Ed, in the Indian Territory, and it was there that he took his four year “course” in the Cowboy College of Hard Knocks.

Johnnie Mullins

Johnnie Mullins became a hard riding cowboy, but he never became a hard drinking cowboy.  He did not particularly care for alcoholic drinks.  He told me that he never was drunk in his life.  He told the most he ever drank was when invited to a home where drinks were served before the meal, but “I usually did not drink more than one drink.  Sometimes I might pay for a crowd to step up and have a drink, but more than likely I would ask for a seven-up or some other soft drink for myself.”

     Knowing that his great, great grandfather and his grandfather were itinerant Methodist preachers, and his mother a Methodist, I asked Johnnie if he had ever joined the church.  He replied, “No, I don’t believe I ever did.  I believed in the church, I had some good preacher friends, and church member friends, and I have always believed in the good things that are right.” I told him he must not neglect becoming a church member and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not put it off too long.  Then I told him about reading Rev. 19:11, and verse 14 just that morning, where it says, “I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He that set upon him was called Faithful and True (meaning Jesus)…” and in verse 14, “And the armies of Heaven followed Him upon white horses…”  I asked him if he had ever ridden a white horse and he replied that he had.  I then told him I would like to see him riding one of those white horses in heaven, and that I was sure the Lord would have one all ready for him.  He wanted to know if they furnished a saddle.  I told him I thought whatever equipment was necessary would be issued with the horse, and I was sure he could ride any horse issued to him.  I said to him, though you are retired you must not forget how to ride, you must certainly plan on riding one of those white horses.  He asked me what outfit they belonged to, and I replied that it was the Heavenly Ranch, to which he replied.  “It must be the Jesus Christ Ranch.”  I would like for both of us to be there together so we could ride those white horses.

When Johnnie retired from his cowboy life, he left his “home on the range,” and has been living at his daughter’s home.  Her husband is Jimmie Bell, assistant postmaster at one of the post offices in Los Angeles, California.

Johnnie Mullins, at this writing, eighty eight years old, having retired from cowboy work when he was eighty seven. He gets around like a man much younger than eighty eight, his eye is clear, his hand is steady, his mind is sharp, and he has a memory for events like a computer.  He is one of two of the original family now living.  He has a sister, Dora, who is now ninety three, and her mind is clear and active, her steps firm and she gets around like one much younger.

After a year with the Turkey Tracks Cow Outfit in South Dakota, Johnnie Mullins sought other fields of labor.  One of the big operators in Montana was the XIT Cattle Company of Texas, besides being one of the biggest operators in Texas; they had a big spread near Fallon, Montana.  Johnnie never forgot that he was from Texas also, and thus attracted by the name XIT OF TEXAS, perhaps he felt like he was getting close to a bit of Texas if he worked for this outfit.  So he joined this outfit as a cowboy, and began a real post graduate course in this special Cowboy School of Hard Knocks.  He was with them for four years.

The land around Fallon was open range country, and several big operators were located there, sharing this open range.  Besides the XIT of Texas there was the Luck Outfit, The Hat-X, The Bow & Arrow Cattle Company, and others.

The range of the XIT Outfit lay between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.  They shipped from the town of Fallon, which was south of the river.  As there was no bridge, the cowboys had to swim all the cattle across the river in small bunches of thirty five to fifty each time.  As the current was very swift, it was necessary for the boys to ride on the downstream side, or below the cattle, to keep them from going down the river.  “Every Fall we would make two shipments of around two thousand head in each shipment.  Sometimes there would be as many as six big herds waiting there for their turn to ship,” said Johnnie.

Johnnie continued, “When the last shipments in the Fall were made, the water would be frozen on each side of the river, but open in the center.  We would have to break the ice on each side so the cattle would have a place to go in and to get out of the river on each side.  Sometimes it would take a whole morning to get a herd across the river, and we would load them in the afternoon.”

Johnnie describes the process of getting the cattle across the river when it was frozen over in the following words: “We would gallop up to a herd and get a bunch and bring them down to the bank of the river.  Sometimes a bunch would take to the water right now, at other times they might mill around for twenty minutes or more before they would go in.  Us boys would get ready for this operation by pulling off our boots and clothes, just in case our horse got down or worked out from under us. We didn’t stop and go to the fire until the job was done.  Talk about getting cold, that was it.  You could not get boys to do it now.”  He then went into the description of clothes worn then and now.  “All we had then was a big old overcoat that reached down to our ankles.  There was no such a thing as a jacket.  Now days we have fleece lined jackets, thermal underwear, and underwear twice as warm now as compared to those we had then.  Now we have fur lined jackets and clothing is much warmer.”

This “operation deep freeze” was one long to be remembered.  “The rodeos were operated to picture ranch operations as they were, but there are two operations we never see put on in the rodeo.  One of these is this “deep freeze” operation, where cowboys are getting cattle across a frozen river, cowboys plunging into the icy waters astride their horses with their hat on, but sans clothing and boots.  The second operation is that of the “Band Wagons.”  This wagon was different from the chuck wagons we may see in a rodeo.  You mention band wagons today and most people do not know what you are talking about,” said Johnnie.  Johnnie describes a Band Wagon “as a big wagon about like a round up wagon, which was loaded with clothes, hats, boots, underwear and supplies of all kinds that cowboys might need.  They were sent out by some company, or by some businessmen.  They would visit each outfit’s round up wagon in the surrounding territory, staying a day or two at each one.  This was their way of doing business with the cowboys while they were tied up on round up duties and could not visit the stores.  The only thing they were not permitted to take and sell to the boys was whiskey or liquor of any kind.”

After four years of cowboying with the XIT, Johnnie felt like he had done his share of post graduate work in the ice bound Cowboy School of Hard Knocks.  Perhaps he had in mind those special “deep freeze” classes of driving cattle over a frozen river, dressed only with a hat and his birthday suit, with this in mind a change of climate would be welcome.  So he drifted back down into New Mexico and again entered the employ of the JAL Cattle Company, his former employers.  His main job was to break horses.  This time he was with them for three years.

It was during this second hitch with the JAL Cattle Company that something happened that brought a change in his routine of life of punching cattle.  The Miller brothers, of Bliss, Oklahoma, came to the JAL Cattle Company and bought four thousand four year old steers to ship to their ranch in Oklahoma.  That was the year they started their 101 Wild West Show.  They were looking for cowboys to be in their show, so they talked Johnnie Mullins into joining up with them as bronc rider, steer roper, and fancy roping and trick riding.  This was the beginning of his career in the wild west shows.  It was while he was with the 101 Wild West Show that he met Tom Mix, who was also with the same show.  It was during this time that he felt the call for a “home around the kitchen range,” instead of a “home on the cattle range.” He got married.[1]

William F. Cody,
1846 – 1917
“Buffalo Bill”

One year the 101 Wild West Ranch Show closed early, so Johnnie and a number of the cowboys finished the season with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. With them Johnnie did trick riding.  Trick riders usually do several things, such as Roman riding, that is, standing up riding with one foot on one horse and one foot on another horse at the same time; also jumping on and off a horse, and over the horse, also picking up some small object on the ground, all done while the horse is going at full speed, or perhaps doing the Russian drag.

Some time later Johnnie Mullins and Tom Mix were with a smaller wild west show known as the Circle D, owned by a Mr. Dickey.  It was smaller than the 101 Ranch or Buffalo Bill shows, but it was a wilder and better show.  This outfit was at Vincennes, Indiana, when the Celic Polly Scope Company came there from Chicago and leased the entire wild west show to make moving [movie] pictures.  From Vincennes, Indiana they moved everything to Desplains, Indiana, which was a short distance from Chicago.  For three months we were there making western pictures.  For performers in the show they had ten cowboys, ten cowgirls, about fifty Indians and fifty head of stock.  Johnnie said, “At this place Tom Mix and I were featured in what I considered was one of the best western pictures I ever saw.  It was called “Ranch Life in the Great Southwest.” [2]  On this show, Tom Mix, Henry Grammar, Charlie Fuqua and myself, roped and tied single handed, thirty five big Mexican steers, besides riding a lot of bucking broncos.  Another picture in which Tom Mix and I were featured was one called “Two Boys in Blue.”[3]

Tom Mix, 1880 – 1940
Famous Cowboy Movie Star

Johnnie continues, “At that time Margaret Clark was a star in motion pictures.  She and I worked together in a show called ‘A Millionaire Cowboy.’ We were supposed to get married, and I was to meet her in New York, and was to bring her back to the ranch, together with a woman who was playing as her mother.  This woman, playing as her mother, was the biggest woman I had ever seen.  She weighed about three hundred pounds, but she was a fine actress.  We were to cross the Desplains River in a boat.  To help us across, the cowboys got on their horses and swam across the river, having first tied their ropes to the boat, and so pulled us across the river.  Later we went down in Oklahoma and made several more pictures there.”

“Myrtle Stedman, a big blonde, was starred in a show.  Tom Mix got stuck on her, and when she got a contract in California and went out there, Tom Mix followed her.  The rest of us stayed with the wild west show, as they still had contracts for several fairs.”

“In later years I met with Tom Mix at different times.  The last time I was with him was when I was living in El Paso.  Every time Tom came through there, he would stop and visit with me.  The last time I was with Tom was when he came through El Paso on his way to California and stopped to stay all night.  He and I went over to Juarez, Mexico, to have dinner.  After dinner we looked the town over pretty well, in fact so well we did not get back across the bridge until seven o’clock next morning.  We never slept any that night and he pulled out of town about 11 o’clock that morning to go on to California.  On his way he stopped at Lordsburg, New Mexico to see an old friend, Colonel Holt, who was Mayor of the town.  Holt talked Tom into staying over until the next day so he could take part in a parade they were going to have, agreed to do this.  Knowing Tom and the Colonel as I did, I know they did not sleep any that night either.  After the parade, Tom left about 1 P.M. to continue his journey.  When he got to Tucson, Arizona, he stopped to see, and visit with, Ed Echols, who was sheriff there.  Ed was once with the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Show, and Tom and I were there at the same time and knew Ed Echols well.  I am sure they did not sleep any that night.  Next day Tom left about 1 o’clock P.M. for California, but, as he neared a place called Congress Junction, Arizona, he had a car accident and was killed in the crash. This happened in 1942 [should be 1940].”

Johnnie Mullins was connected with the Ringling Brothers Circus for quite a while.  He was with the circus when they showed at Madison Square Garden and many other places.  He knew all five of the Ringling brothers.  Perhaps it is not generally known that Ringling Brothers had a large ranch located at White Sulphur Springs, Montana.  A spur of the main line of the railroad ran from the little town of Ringling, which was twenty six miles from White Sulphur Springs.  During World War I, one of the brothers, Richard Ringling, was sent to this ranch in Montana to manage and run the ranch.  Richard had gone up with the circus and knew nothing about cattle, sheep, or ranching in general, but he did a good job of running that ranch.  It was Ringling Brothers policy to have each of the younger members of the family to start at the bottom, as it were, in the circus business, driving stakes, and other of the menial tasks so they would know the business from the ground up.

Richard Ringling started at the top in the ranching business, but succeeded very well and introduced some new ideas that the ranches surrounding the Ringling ranch copied, ideas which they liked very much.

The ranchers in that section ran a lot of sheep.  When the ewes were lambing it was necessary to protect them from the extreme cold, or else they would loose their lambs.  As a hundred or more might be born during the night, their losses would run very high if they did not have some protection from the cold.  Richard Ringling remembered that, at their headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin, they had several old and condemned big top tents. He sent for two of them and set them up at the ranch.  The old timers said he could not get the sheep to go in them.  He said, “That is no problem, if you raise the sidewalls on one side and also on the opposite side, they will go in.  He tried this idea out and it worked, and so he saved his lambs.  The other ranchers, seeing how well it worked, asked him to order some tents for them, and so many lambs were saved in that way.  A new idea for caring for lambs was born.  Richard Ringling also helped to start the rodeo going in a big way in Montana, especially in Bozeman, which became the biggest one in the state.  He also got the idea of furnishing stock for the rodeos.  Johnnie Mullins helped him in carrying this out, and so he furnished the livestock for rodeos in places.

“An example of the philanthropic spirit of the Ringling Brothers was shown when John Ringling and Tex Richard ran the show in Madison Square Garden for a month with the proceeds going to help the Broadstreet Hospital.  That was a lot of money to donate for a cause like that.  It went over in a big way.  Other organizations sought the same set up for their particular projects, but Ringling Brothers could not do that for all of them so they did not put the show on under that arrangement any more,” said Johnnie.

“When Richard Ringling began to promote rodeos, especially certain features of the rodeo, he did not want them to make them look like a circus at all.  He told Johnnie, “If any of our people come around and want a job, and want to be announced as being from Ringling Brothers, do not use them.  The word ‘Circus’ means to go in a circle.  The horses in the show were trained and accustomed to go on a curved circuit.  The rodeo horses were trained, and usually ran along a straight course along the front of the grandstands.  One man, who was going to do some trick riding, put up some stakes and tied a rope between them so the rodeo horses would follow the ropes in a circular manner.”  Richard Ringling saw these stakes and asked Johnnie what they were for, and it was explained to him, Richard Ringling would not permit it. He said, “That is too much like a circus, and we don’t want anything in this that looks like a circus.”

Johnnie said, “The U.S. Government got a lot of ideas from Ringling Brothers for moving and setting up their army equipment.  Ringling Brothers had a real system.  Their thirty-six car outfit would come in to a town during the early hours of the morning.  They must set up their cook tents and other tents and get seats and everything in readiness for a parade at ten o’clock in the morning, and for the first show at 2 P.M.  Counting workmen and performers they had about seven hundred people.  To have all those people and all the equipment and animals ready to go at the appointed time required a real system to do it, and, believe me, they had the system.”

Johnnie Mullins did trick riding for Ringling Brothers, which included Roman riding.

Ever since man began riding horses and herding cattle, he has been keenly interested in the open country, the free life so close to nature and the adventure and the challenges that go with it.  Put man or boy, whether he be savage or civilized, astride a horse, and he feels the surge of elation and power rising up in his nervous system that transforms him into a different being.  This has been exhibited through the ages among primitive peoples as well as those more civilized.  If no other skills were developed among them, even primitive peoples, than those used in their warfare, it became a contest to see who was the best spear thrower, or who could shoot an arrow with the most accuracy, or was the best at stalking an enemy.  If he won the contest he was the best.  This was true of the Indians in America,and, as the white man in America multiplied, each village or community, or rival ranches settled the question of who was best with a contest.

In the early days in the more settled communities, it might be a question as to who had the best pulling yoke of oxen, or team of horses or mules; the question was settled by a contest.  It might be a question as to which group of men pulling on the end of a rope could pull the hardest and could drag their rivals their way in a tug of war.

Among the ranchers each outfit would claim to have the best rider, the best ropers, and the fastest horses.  Challenges would be made and settled at a 4th of July celebration, or some other gathering. These developed into what might be called rodeos, although there was not very much in the way of organization on these occasions, except that the local talent in one place was better than their rivals in putting on these contests.

In the hearts of the general public, whether it be in the city or in the town or village, there was that innate interest in the skills connected with ranch life.  As towns and cities multiplied, and the grazing areas were pushed farther and farther away, the opportunity to see those things first hand grew less and less.  Prolific writers kept these things before the public in books and magazines, and kept their appetites on a keen edge to see those things.

City dwellers who were fortunate enough to have relatives or friends who owned ranches visited them on their vacations. Certain ranchers soon got the idea of selling the idea of a vacation on the ranch where the vacationers could live the simulated life of the cowboys. The idea developed and grew, until finally, the Dude Ranch, the Dude Cowboy, the Dude Cowgirl, was born.  The idea grew to healthy proportions, and many a rancher added to his annual income and developed it into a profitable part of ranch life and income.

Show minded men began to capitalize on the love of the public for exhibitions of the cowboy’s skill and to bring to the public a vivid sample of what took place on the ranch in the life of the cowboy.  To put on these exhibitions they invited real ranch cowboys, those who were best in these skills, to come and perform in their shows.  Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came unto being.  Miller Brothers 101 Ranch was born, and a host of smaller outfits.  Even Ringling Brothers got into the act to a certain extent.

Developing with these wild west shows came the rodeo and the western motion pictures.  The purpose of all these organizations was to portray the exciting skills of the cowboy as nearly as possible like it was done in actual practice on the range.  At first the moving [movie] picture used the cowboys right off the range.  Then a new development began to take place.  Actors began to “imitate” or act, the part of the cowboys.  Men who had never been on a ranch learned to ride and to rope, and they became riders and ropers even though their skills were not learned on a ranch.  As he “imitated” the cowboys, if he did it long enough, and good enough, he became a cowboy, either by diligent practice, or, if his income became sufficient, he invested in a ranch and thus became a real cowboy or ranch man.  An actor cowboy, or a real cowboy, is one who is self trained.  There are no cowboy schools, except the Cowboy School of Hard Knocks, and there are no correspondence courses, it is a “do-it-yourself” attainment.

Cowboying has now become a sport spectacle.  The contestants become professionals, and if they are tough and good enough they are able to make a go of it.  To do so requires much travel.  If winnings are lean, the aspiring cowboy becomes that way too.  He pays his own way around the rodeo circuit.  He pays his own entrance fee.  He matches his strength and his wits against the wild bronc, the wiley calf, or the gyrating Brahma steers.  The competition is keen and rough, whether it be on an outlaw horse, a scrambling calf, or a wild bull.

An example of the “actor cowboy,” was William S. Hart.  Johnnie Mullins was well acquainted with him and Johnnie says, “Hart never claimed to be a cowboy.”  He always said, “I am a cowboy actor,” and he was a real good one.  Actor cowboys became the cowboys of the movies.  The rodeo cowboy might be right off the range, or from town or country in the East or West.  He spends most of his time going from rodeo to rodeo, a much traveled man, but still a cowboy, with the cowboy outlook on life.

At first the stock used in the rodeos was secured from some local rancher who had some stock that was pretty wild.  As the demand became greater and more specialized, some ranchers began to specialize in rodeo stock, and to develop the bucking and pitching instincts of the broncs or steers.  They sought out the wildest, hard bucking types they could find and kept them in such numbers that they could fill the growing demand for that kind of stock.  A representative from the rodeo would contact these men and arrange for the stock required.  A later development was the “stock contractor” who made the rounds of all the rodeos and would supply them with the stock they needed.

Many changes and new regulations have come in since the early days of rodeo; before the days of these guidelines and regulations set up by the rodeo and cowboy associations things were rather loosely run. Johnnie comments on this as follows:

“While many of the regulations have been very good and have cut out a lot of stuff that should never have been there, yet, they have toned down the rodeo until most any boy of any age and ability at all can do what they now require.  They don’t do the rough stuff they used to do.  Take the wild horse races.  You don’t see them having anymore wild horse races.  Back then there would be fifteen horses and men take part.  At the signal they would lead these horses out with a halter.  Three men would he assigned to each horse.  They would all be wrestling with these horses out there all at the same time.  It would take forty five men to handle and saddle these horses and get them ready for the wild horse race.  All working at it at the same time.  Then running them around the track makes a good finish for any rodeo.  They don’t have that any more.  Same way with the bulldogging, they use little old steers now, runts you might say.  They used to use big steers and gave them a sixty foot start, and then the hazer and the dogger, one on each side chasing the steer, gave a good, thrilling sight for every body to see.  Now they use a small steer, and permit the dogger to drop on him before he gets twenty five feet from the chute.  There is no real chase and nobody gets to see anything.  He may jump on him just as he gets out of the chute.  There is no chase and nothing to see about it.  The sixty foot start made it a real chase and something to see and very exciting.”

Johnnie continues: “Those days before they invented the chute was quite different from now.  The bronc was brought out and eared down, or snubbed while they put the saddle on him and the rider got on.  That was before the days of the spring chute gate that opened ‘instantly’ with cowboy already in the saddle, or if ridden bareback already on his back.  It was much harder in the old days.”

Now instead of riding an animal till he quits pitching, they ride him for eight seconds, or the time the bull or horse will do his best bucking.  It is usually conceded that the first chutes were used in Fort Worth, and the year was 1919.

Steer roping as practiced on the range was rather hard on the animals.  It tended to bruise up the meat, and rather ruined the beef for selling.  In the rodeo arena it was frowned on by the humane society, who did so because of the cruelty to the animal.  In some states laws were passed preventing it.  It has almost faded out of the rodeo, except in a few places.It was tempered somewhat by the so called “team roping,” in which two cowboys participated, one, the heeler, roped his back legs and the other cowboy roped the head.  They then stretched him out so that he fell rather easily.  As steer roping was more or less eliminated, calf roping began to take its piece and has become very popular.

Fancy and trick roping features have been developed into a fine art with a rope.  It seems to have been introduced into the United States by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show about 1900.  They secured a Mexican by the name of Vincenti Orespo to put on the act.  It was well received and fancy and trick roping has been a drawing card ever since.  Roping was probably introduced in America first by the old Spanish vaqueros and brought north by the Mexicans.  Many magical things are done now with the rope in the hands of American trick ropers.

Bill Pickett, 1870 – 1932

Bulldogging became a feature of rodeo about 1903 when a Texas black man by the name of Bill Pickett, at a rodeo in Dublin, Texas, started it. Instead of throwing the bull solely by twisting its horns, Pickett sank his teeth in the animal’s nose and held on like a bulldog attacking a cow.  The stunt requires a well trained horse that will go alongside the steer so the dogger can drop down on the neck of the steer so he can grasp the horns of the steer and twisting until the animal falls.  “Some have tried this stunt by jumping from a car on to the steer.  Another fellow tried it by jumping from a jeep.  But the most daring was when Mal Hinkel jumped from a low flying plane on to the steer’s neck.  It was quite a daring stunt, and it broke up the jumper pretty bad.  Henkel was a good friend of mine.  He just died a few months ago,” said Johnnie.

Johnnie tells about another stunt pulled off in New York.  He wanted to advertise a show that was coming up.  He got an airplane; prepared a great banner, and an old daring cowboy by the name of Cheyenne Kaiser put his saddle on the fuselage of that plane and rode it all around up in the air.  However, using those mechanical mounts to jump on the back of a steer developed certain difficulties.  The steers were not afraid when the horses got close to them, but they were frightened when the dogger approached close enough to jump on the steer’s back from these mechanical critters, so it was not very successful.

In the rodeos the broncs are either ridden bareback or with a saddle.  Johnnie always rode with a saddle.  The Rodeo Cowboys Association worked out a standard saddle for use in rodeos.  However, a trick rider, or a cowboy doing bulldogging usually uses a saddle he can get out of easily.

In 1912 Johnnie Mullins was called by his old friend, Guy Weadick, with whom he had worked in the 101 Ranch days, to come to Alberta, Canada, to help him organize and put on the first of the Calgary Stampede Rodeos.  Johnnie said, “There were four prominent cowmen in Calgary who financed that show.  They were George Lane, Pat Burns, and two other men by the name of Cross and McClain.  When I arrived on the scene the first thing George Lane did was to take me over to the bank, and he asked the banker to tell me how much money they had to start the show.  The banker said, “$100,000.00, or $25,000.00 for each of the organizers to use.  George told me that I was to get the cowboys and the stock and the things necessary to go with this department.  He was a plain spoken old fellow, and what he wanted done, he wanted it done right now, and done right.  And what he said, you could depend on it.  Looking me straight in the eye he said, “Johnnie you don’t know a thing about the office.  Your job is to get these cowboys, and we want the best in the world.”  He then turned to Guy Weadick and said, “Guy, you don’t know anything about cowboys, but you are the best promoter and showman in the world.” Johnnie continued, “He was offering more prize money than had ever been offered before.”  Then he turned to meand asked me, “Do you think the cowboys will come up here for the money we are putting up as prize money?” Johnnie says, “I am glad to say, the response was good.  There were twenty five cowboys from El Paso, the very best steer ropers.  There were twenty five from Bartlesville, Oklahoma; a few from Wyoming, and the rest were natives.  In all there were sixty two cowboys, all were champions.”

Johnnie said, “In each steer roping contest each cowboy had to rope six steers, and in the test each high man had to rope two extra.  Ed Nichols, of Tucson, Arizona, was first; Joe Gardner, Sierra Blanca, Texas was second; George Weir, of New Mexico, was third; and I, Johnnie Mullins, was fourth; and Billy Barnett and Charlie Johnson of Cedar Hill, Kansas were 5th and 6th respectively.  I also rode broncs there during the seasons run, and was there helping each year from 1912-1917.”

Johnnie continues, “In 1972 I was invited by the Calgary Stampede management to be present during their 1972 run, as their guest.  Altogether there were fourteen of those who were there in 1912 present on this the 60th anniversary of the Stampede.  We were there during the full run of the entire show.  There were from thirty to forty thousand people present at each performance.  I never saw so many people in all my life.  It is the biggest show of its kind on earth.  Their chuck wagon race is really something to see,” he said.

It was Johnnie Mullins lot to help out in many rodeo performances in many different places.  In many of them he was a participant, later he acted as arena manager, also secured the cowboys and the stock for them.

In the 1920s he ran the Madison Square Garden rodeo for seven seasons.  This was during the days of Tex Richard, fight promoter.

For thirteen seasons his helped put on the Tucson, Arizona annual rodeo, during the middle 1920s.

When Richard Ringling and men of Bozeman, Montana organized and enlarged the Bozeman rodeo, he went there to help them and was there each season for eight years.

He helped in the Sesquicentennial of Philadelphia World’s Fair, which ran for five weeks, in 1921 [should be 1926].

Johnnie says, “I helped to run the El Paso Kids Rodeo for thirteen years.  The editor of the El Paso Herald-Post, and S.D. Myers, noted saddle maker of the U.S.A., and myself were the originators of the Kids Rodeo, and while they call some of the others ‘Kids Rodeo,’ our rodeo had kids from seven to fourteen years old, and we had from three hundred to five hundred contestants, all kids,” Mullins said.

In the 1930s he was the Arena Director for the Deer Lodge, Montana, and Roswell, New Mexico rodeos.  In the 1930s he also helped put on the Butte, Montana and the Livingstone, Montana rodeos. Johnnie also helped put on the Bisbee, Arizona, and the Douglas, Arizona rodeos.

In Lubbock, Texas, he helped to put on their rodeo for two years. In the 1930s Johnnie was at Tularosa, New Mexico and also Hot Springs, New Mexico helping them stage their rodeos. During the 1930s Johnnie also helped put on the La Junta, Colorado rodeos.

For two seasons in the 1930s Johnnie helped put on the San Antonio, Texas rodeo as Arena Director.  He was also at Midland, Texas helping them put on their rodeo. 

Ruidoso, New Mexico called him to help them with their rodeos.  Johnnie says, “There were other places where I helped put on their rodeos, but I don’t remember all the names.”

Will Rogers,
1879 – 1935
America’s ‘Poet Lariat’

While working with the rodeos in so many different places he met many notable people. While in New York he met Will Rogers, when Will was with the Ziegfield Follies.  “Will and I were friends, and went around together a lot,” Johnnie said.  Will Rogers, for a time appeared in rodeos as a trick roping artist.  Johnnie speaks very highly of Rogers.  He said, “If I knew he was going to appear and speak in town tonight, I would be willing to pay $25.00 to hear him.”

President Warren G. Harding, 1865 – 1923
29th U.S. President, 1921 – 1923

While helping with the rodeo in Washington, D.C. at the Shriners Convention, he met President Harding.  Johnnie said, “It was at a big barbecue.  They barbecued a real buffalo.  All of us would go by and slice off a piece of the buffalo meat, pick up the trimmings, and all sat down with President Harding on the grass, and we all ate together.”

President Theodore Roosevelt, 1858 – 1919
26th U.S. President, 1901 – 1909

“While with the rodeo in Sheepshead Bay, New York I met Teddy Roosevelt.  He was at the rodeo every day.  He was a very rugged individual, just like a real cowboy.  This was in 1916,” he said.

Charles M. Russell, 1864 – 1926
Self-Portrait in 1900

During his travels Johnnie met Charlie Russell, the famous cowboy artist, and became very well acquainted with him.

King Edward VIII,
1894 – 1972
 King of Great Britain & Ireland and Emperor of India
Reigned in 1936
Also Known as Edward VIII, Prince of Wales

“While acting as Arena Director at the rodeo in Leftbridge, Alberta, Canada, I met the Prince of Wales who was touring the country at that time, 1917.  He was out at the rodeo every day, even during the rain.  I furnished him a horse, which he rode every day.  The Prince expressed a desire to see some steer roping.  We had none scheduled for this rodeo.  Knowing that I was a steer roper, the Prince asked me if I would rope a steer for him so he could see just how it was done.  I roped a steer for the Prince, and he seemed to appreciate it very much.  At that time he was not married to his American girl friend.”

In answer to the question as to how many horses he had ridden, Johnnie replied; “I don’t know of anybody who has ridden more horses than I have.”  Johnnie is not bragging when he makes this statement.  Figure it up for yourself!  If you had been a cowboy since you were fourteen years old, and you quit when you were eighty-seven years old, that would mean you have been riding horses for seventy-three years.  Even if you just rode one horse each day for that length of time, it would mount up to a pretty high figure. Let’s sum it up roughly in this way.  He rode four years with his brother, Ed.  He rode four years with the JAL Cattle Company, and four years with the XIT.  He rode several years with several wild west shows; seventeen years with the Out Oro Ranch.  A rough estimate of all this riding would put the total up pretty high.  In the next paragraph we will have some more figures to add to the above items.

Johnnie continues: “During World War I, I went to work for Elsworth McNair Commission Company of Chicago, who had all the big contracts for furnishing horses for the war, shipping them overseas, for the British, the French and the U.S. Army.  There were four different outfits buying in Chicago at that time, two French, the English, and the U.S. Army.  Each outfit would take from one hundred to one hundred fifty horses each day, and that lasted for four years.  There were four or five inspectors, and they would be there with the buyers.  They might have fifty horses already tied up on the picket line.  All the horses had bridles and halters on them.  It would not take but three or four minutes for the inspectors and buyers to tell whether or not they would take a horse or not.  They would check his eyes to see if he could see, look at his teeth to determine the age, and, of course, look him all over for other defects.  If they accepted him, they would lead him down to where us three riders were.  Each outfit had three riders.  Each horse was tied to a picket line, and when they got as many as fifteen we would ride these horses.  We would ride and make three runs – to test their wind, and to see whether or not they were already broke.  All were halter broke.  Some were young work horses, and some had been ridden before, and some had not.  These horses came out of Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and other places.  This gave horse owners in those places a chance to get rid of their surplus horses and a chance to slip in an old outlaw horse if they had one on hand.  We would ride anywhere from a hundred to one hundred fifty per day. Doing this for four years you are bound to get a lot of bucking horses.  You count these horses, and the horses I rode on the range, in the wild west shows, in the rodeos, add all these together and I don’t believe anybody has ridden any more horses than I have.”

Being a steer roper himself, and also arena director in so many places in rodeos, Johnnie Mullins knew, and roped with, many of the great steer ropers of those days.  Of these he mentioned the names of following: Clay McGonigal, Glue Gentry, Joe Gardner, Ike Rude, Henry Grammar, Shoat Webster and Bob Crosby, Buddy Neal.  Johnnie made the following statements in regard to these men:

“Many of these men were in Calgary in 1912.  Some of them came in later, in the 1920s and 1930s.  Bob Crosby was one of these.  Bob Crosby never saw the day when he could beat Clay McGonigal, or Joe Gardner.  McGonigal was a large man and could handle a steer that was giving trouble and tie him up.  Joe Gardner was a smaller man.  If the steer did not give any trouble, Joe could tie him up faster than anybody.  Joe Gardner could beat anybody if all went well.”

Henry Grammar was one of my best friends.  He got killed in a car wreck.  When I placed fourth in Calgary in 1912, I was riding a horse that was good, but a little slow.  As we were getting ready for the finals, Henry Grammar came up to me and said, “Johnnie, you had better take Old Flaxie,” a horse that had the reputation of being the best in his time, “that horse you are riding is a little slow, so you better take Old Flaxie.” Joe Gardner, who had placed second,came up and said.  ‘Henry, are you doing to let Johnnie ride Old Flaxie?” Henry said.  “Yes, and Joe said, “I don’t think that is right, he ought to ride the same horse he started with.”

“Henry Grammar was a wonderful man, but a rough, tough, man, who wouldn’t take nothing off of nobody.  He’d kill you!”  Henry repeated, “Yes, Johnnie is going to ride Old Flaxie, I don’t care what you think.” And then to me he said, “Johnnie, you better rope on Old Flaxie.”  Joe never said any more.  He knew what kind of a jam he was in.  This showed the difference between these two fellows.  Joe Gardner would not lend his horse to his best friend if he thought that friend would beat him in any way, but Henry was one of another kind.  If Henry had been in the finals and I wanted to ride Flaxie, he would have let me rope on him,” said Johnnie.

Asked if he had ever been thrown off many times, Johnnie replied, “I have been pretty lucky in staying on the horses, and in not getting hurt.  The only time I ever got throwed was when I was in the house and a ‘throw rug’ threw me and broke my leg.  That throw rug was not ‘snubbed down’ properly.  I got over it and was soon mended up and riding again.  However, some time after this hassle with the throw rug, my horse got tangled up in some brush and fell on me, busting me up pretty bad.  That happened June 26, 1967. Then on January 1st, I got another fall and broke my hip.”

I asked Johnnie, “What was the worst bucking horse you ever met up with?”  He replied, “It was a horse at the Calgary Stampede by the name of ‘Blizzard.’  Blizzard could really do his stuff.  And with that name, you might say, he could sure enough ‘freeze you.’  The old saying, ‘There was never a horse that couldn’t be rode, and never a man that couldn’t be throwed,’ was almost disproved by Old Blizzard.”

When asked if he ever rode any steers or bulls, he replied, “When I was with one of the wild west shows, there was a young fellow who rode a steer at each performance.  This steer was a great big, tall Brahma, known by the name of ‘Peach Blossom.’ This young fellow rode him with a surcingle, or at least he attempted to ride him.  When Peach Blossom came running into the arena I would rope him.  The fellows would go up to him and hold him till the rider got his surcingle on him.  That old Brahma had been through this so many times he would not do anything much until the rider got on his back.  That was the signal for him to begin action.  One day this boy got hurt and was unable to ride.  The fellow that owned the show came to me and asked about riding in his place.  ‘I told him I did not come there to ride bulls.’ ‘Well, he said, you know you can ride him.  You have been around here two years and have not been bucked off.  You ought to help us out in this emergency.’ ‘I said, Dickey, I will try him one time with a saddle.  So we got him saddled up, and I got on him.  Well, you have heard about being bucked off the first jump, that’s nothing. I got bucked off the first HALF JUMP.  That old steer could really buck and no one had ever ridden him, especially with a saddle.  So he bucked off down to the far end, but this man would not let you have a second seat on the some show.  It made me mad that he had bucked me off.  So I told Dickey I wanted another try at the next performance.  Dickey knew that old Peach Blossom would not buck much more, if any now, so he told me I could have another seat the next show.  Well, I tried him again, and that time I rode him.  But I told Mr. Dickey right then that Peach Blossom and I were even.  I’m not riding him any more.  That is the only steer I ever tried to ride with a saddle.  I’m telling you for sure, these old Brahma bulls, when they are really bucking, they will buck off every cowboy in the business in a saddle.  A saddle just naturally rolls and slips on these old bulls.”

Trying to ride a steer or even a calf, with a saddle, reminds the author of the time out on the Merrill ranch in Somervell County, when he tried to ride a calf with a saddle on it.  “I got on the saddle, and the saddle was on the calf, but before I could count one, I found myself on the ground with the saddle and the calf, both on top of me, instead of me being on top of them.  And the saddle was turned around so it was on the belly of the calf instead of being on its back.  Like Johnnie, I said, me and that calf are even.  I have not been on a calf since that day, and don’t plan to again.”

Johnnie Mullins in 1969
at the Out Oro Ranch

Before Johnnie retired from the cowboying business in 1971, he worked for seventeen years for the Green Cattle Company who owned the Out Oro Ranch, fifty four miles northwest of Prescott, Arizona.  In a story which appeared in the magazine section of the Arizona Republic, the latter part of March, 1968, Johnnie Mullins is credited with spending a full day in the saddle.  He said, “Everyone of us, every day putting in from ten, twelve, and sometimes sixteen hours.”  His co-workers at that time were Martin Jackson, who had just turned 21; Whistle Mills, 70; Ralph Chapman, 68; Red Clark, 62; Buck Smith, 60; and Tom Allman, 46. Note the difference in the ages, from 21 all the way up the ladder to Johnnie’s 83 at that time.

Will Johnnie Mullins ride again? He has retired because of his advanced age.  Riding was his way of life for a long, long time.  Without doubt he still feels the urge to mount a good horse and ride the range again.  Perhaps there is a way that would permit him to ride again.

Johnnie Mullins
at his 87th Birthday Party

We do not usually think of the Bible as having much to say about horses and horseman. In Bible lands and some of the surrounding countries, the most popular riding animal is the ass.  Also the mule and the camel are widely used.  To the north and east there were many wild tribes who rode on horses, and many who drove them to chariots as chariot horses.  One of these peoples, known as the Parthians, were a warlike people, and were famous as fighters on horseback.  They would charge an enemy, and, as they advanced they would keep up a constant flight of arrows.  Suddenly they would turn around and retreat, but as they retreated, they would turn around and sit facing backwards on their horses and would continue to shoot arrows as their horses went in the opposite direction.  This method of firing their arrows become known as the “PARTHIAN SHOT.” This expression came down even in the English language.  In time a lot of people did not know who the Parthians were, or how they carried on their warfare, and misunderstanding the word, began to call it the “PARTING SHOT,” instead of the Parthian shot. So we have the expression in English at this time.  The Parthians and other wild tribes came riding their horses on their raids of plunder and destruction.  The raids of these fierce warriors were so often and so destructive the “horse and its rider” become symbols of war, plunder and devastation.

When the Israelites came out of Egypt the Egyptians followed them on horses and in chariots.  When they came to the Red Sea, through which a path was miraculously opened for the Israelites, the Egyptians attempted to follow in the same path.  The results of their attempt is described in Exodus 15:1 as, “…the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”  Later horses began to be used in Bible lands.

When Elijah was taken to heaven, as related in 2 Kings 2:11, the method of his conveyance describes it “as … there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire…” but Elisha, speaking of it in verse 12, says, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.”

It was the custom in Israel for the king to ride to his coronation on an ass.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem in the symbolic coronation entry into Jerusalem, He rode into Jerusalem on an ass, thus following the Jewish coronation custom.

In Revelation 6:1-8, as the seals on a scroll were opened; four horses and their riders were described.   Before each verse giving a description of the horses, these words appear, “Come and see,” which, of course, is an invitation to study and find out the meaning.  The first horse is described in Revelation 6:2 (chapter 6 and verse 2), in these words, And I saw and behold a white horse and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”  The white color of this horse stands for purity and victory, the bow in the riders hand symbolizes conquest, and the crown, victory.  This is a symbol of the church founded by Jesus and the apostles and the purity of its doctrines, and the zeal with which its people proclaimed the gospel.

After the white horse there followed three other horses, each one being of a different color.  They also represent churches, or church periods, but the change in the color of the horses, represents the changes that occurred in the purity of the doctrines as represented by the pure white horse and its rider, which they had received from Christ and the apostles.  The churches began to absorb portions of heathen doctrines and philosophies as doctrines of the church.  This does not mean that the church with the pure doctrines ceased to exist.  However, because of the lowering of the church standards, the bringing in of unbiblical doctrines from the non-Christian world around them and making these perverted doctrines part of the church, the churches with the lowered standards became more popular then the church of the pure doctrines and standards.  But let us notice the description: Revelation 6:4, “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given him that set thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”

Red, or scarlet is the bloody color of sin, war, and persecution.  The rider is represented as “taking peace from the earth,” and the sword given to the rider was used in oppression and persecution.  If the white horse represented purity, the red horse and his rider represented the departure from purity of doctrine and the taking away of peace by persecution and oppression.  The sword was used to force submission to their will and to slay many who followed the pure doctrines of Christ.  The red color represents corruption of the faith by the bringing in of subtle heresies and corruptions into the church.

Now, let us “Come and see” what Revelation 6:5 describes: “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see.  And behold, and lo a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of balances (scales) in his hand.  Verse 6, “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

This black horse fitly represents the spiritual darkness that characterized the apostate church from the time of Constantine till the establishment of papal supremacy in 538 A.D. Christianity had now become popular, and a large proportion, perhaps a large majority, of those who embraced it, only assumed the name Christian.  They received a perverted form of baptism, they conformed to some external ceremonies of the church, while at heart and in moral character they were as much heathen as they were before.  The balances, or scales, are false balances.  When men love the Spirit of God, they at once set themselves up as self-appointed judges of other men.  This was particularly true during the 5th and 6th centuries and on, when some of the false leaders began dictating to men what they should believe, and how they should worship God.  This was the period when Christianity was replaced by the papal organization, which exalted a man as vicegerent of God on earth, and who judged men by their man made standards instead of the standards of God.  The ways of the world became the ways of the church in apostasy.

Now let us “come and see” the description of the 4th horse: Revelation 6:8, “And I looked, and behold a PALE HORSE: and his name that sat upon him was death, and Hell followed with him.  And power was given unto him over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

The color of this horse represents a sickly, unnatural color, like that of blighted plants kept out of sunshine.  The symbol evidently refers to the work of the persecution to the death carried on during the inquisition against the pure doctrine church members, from the beginning of papal supremacy in 538 A.D. until the Reformation commence their work of exposing the true character of an apostate church, and a check was placed upon this work of death.

It was the intention of the Reformers to return to the pure doctrines of the Bible.  “The Bible and the Bible only,” they said, is our guide.  But somehow they did not follow through, but continued to retain many of the unscriptural teachings and doctrines of the apostate churches, and brought then into the doctrines of the reformed churches.  In what is known in the Bible as the least days, there will be another revival of the pure doctrines of the Bible, which many will accept.  However the full return to the purity of the church represented by the rider on the WHITE HORSE, will not come until Jesus comes.  The 19th chapter of the Revelation describes the conflict that takes place when the false and the evil is uprooted and the pure and the true is completely restored.  Revelation 19:11 pictures Christ coming on a white horse, note the words in the text, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him was called FAITHFUL AND TRUE, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” This none other than Jesus Christ, riding this white horse, as he takes steps to root out and destroy all evil and to establish a church, according to His name, FAITHFUL AND TRUE, and instead of judging according to man’s judgment, the 11th verse closes with the words,  “and in righteousness He doeth judge…”

In verse 14 armies are pictured as following Him on white horses, and clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  These things all denote a pure state.  This 19th chapter of Revelation gives us a graphic description of the final triumph of the good over the evil.  The multitude on white horses encourages us to think that.  If we choose to follow, Christ, we too can ride with Him.  May we each one plan to ride with Jesus Christ on those white horses.

Portrait of Johnnie W. Mullins
in mid-1970’s by Robert Transporta

Johnnie Mullins, cowboy extraordinary, is a real graduate from the Cowboy School of Hard Knocks, and has had much post graduate work.  Therefore we are not surprised that the directors of the COWBOY HALL OF FAME voted to place his name on its roster, along with those of other noted cowboys.[4]  Johnnie Mullins fully deserves this honor.

Johnnie Mullins was buried with the Mullins family in Granbury Cemetery, Granbury, Hood County, Texas.  His headstone simply reads: 

The HOOD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY has been promoting the idea of a museum for Hood County.  The Commissioners Court has indicated that they would set aside the old county jail for this purpose.  A friend has promised funds with which to refurbish it.  I talked with Johnnie Mullins about this and asked him if he would he willing to set aside his saddle and other equipment, together with a picture, to put in this museum.  He said he would be willing, and probably would gather together a number of things for it.  He seemed to like the idea of having it in the old jail, and he said, “That will be unusual having a museum in the old jail.  It is a museum piece itself.  Perhaps you could contact some of the old “jail birds” who were former inmates, to give a boot, or a shoe, or something else that they wore during their incarceration in the old Hood County Bastille.”

In this Museum project, we do hope others will have the same liberal attitude that Johnnie Mullins manifested in his willingness to provide some things for the museum.

Written by Vance J. Maloney,

506 Hereford St., Glen Rose, Texas, February 4th, 1973

[1] Johnnie married Ruby Britt Sheppard December 26, 1922.

[2] Released in 1910 ( Shows screen credits for Johnnie Mullins and additional information ( Johnnie also had a bit-part in Junior Bonner in 1972.

[3] Released in 1910 (

[4] Inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the Rodeo Historical Society (a support group of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum) in 1975.