Born in 1847, Zachariah P. Vandeveer, was parentless by the age of eight. Taken in by his aunt and uncle- the Joseph Mulhall's, a Catholic family from St. Louis. The couple also took in a girl named Mary Agnes who was twelve years younger than Zack. Taking their surname, Zack Mulhall took a few courses at the University of Notre Dame. Mary Agnes went to Notre Dame's Saint Mary's College, majoring in liberal arts. Despite being raised as siblings, twenty-eight year old Zack's relationship with Mary Agnes bordered on incestuous, and they were married in 1875.
Mary Agnes was a pious woman who ignored her husband's infidelity and cheerily raised his mistresses' children as her own. She even tolerated Zack Mulhall taking his mistress on the road for Wild West shows, where he passed her off to audiences and the press as his daughter.
Only two of their eight children survived to adulthood- Agnes (nicknamed- Bossie) and Lucille, who would later become world famous as a master trick rider and the world's first cowgirl. Moving to lease Cherokee lands in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889, Zack Mulhall staked his claim to 160 acres which would grow into an 80,000-acre cattle ranch in the Indian Territories. The next year he moved Mary Agnes and her two daughters on the claim, and the family took to ranch life. Immediately, Zack began staging riding and roping \
contests. The colonel (as he was named), began showcasing his thirteen year Lucille in a show dubbed the Congress of Rough Riders and Ropers. The same year, Zack was invited to partake a country fair in St. Louis. He brought along a young mixed-blood Cherokee trick-roper straight out of military school, who would be world-famous- Will Rogers (Zack launched the career of Tom Mix as well).
Zack Mulhall became producing more professional and grander shows as his reputation continued to grow. After Lucille won 10,000 dollars in a show in Denison, Texas in 1904, the Mulhalls were invited to an unofficial event which began on May 3rd, at the 1904 Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis. To avoid competition, Mulhall joined with Frederick Cummings to produce an Indian Show, near the entrance to the Pike.
Mulhall's scheduled six months run at the World's Fair only lasted six weeks.
On June 18, 1904, after the last show of the evening, an angry Zack Mulhall, with Lucille and Charley walking close, opened fire on the boss stable man by the name of Frank Reed, near their attraction's entrance on the Pike. The altercation stemmed from a dispute over unauthorized uses of horses. Will Roger's acquaintance, Johnny Murray (a cowboy from San Angelo, Texas), tried to break up the fight was shot by Mulhall in the chest. Unfortunately Ernest Morgan, an eighteen year-old `town boy,' was critically shot through the stomach, the bullet penetrated his cecum, opening two holes, and lodging in his hip. Injured, and not expected to live; doctors took out the bullet on July, 11. Morgan survived but was left permanently disabled. Reed was only grazed in the arm and neck.
Mulhall tried to flee by cutting through an attraction on the Pike, but was apprehended near the Indian Village. He was promptly escorted to the emergency hospital on the fairgrounds, where the wounded Murray and Reed identified Mulhall as the shootist. He was then jailed. A weeping Lucille was barred from the police station.
Johnny Murray disappeared from the Fair after receiving treatment at the Fair hospital. Returning to the horse-riding circuit months later, he claimed that there a `hush-up," after the shooting at the Exposition. He stated in the trial that Mulhall was the man that shot him. He was eventually mortally gunned down by his brother-in-law over money.
On June 20, Mulhall's friend, Ed Butler posted a 20,000 dollar bond. Mulhall publicly made a statement expressing his sorrow about Ernest Morgan's condition. He also claimed that while he and Reed were struggling, people in the crowd began shooting, and it could have been one of their bullets that had injured Morgan. He also said that the situation with Reed was purely self-defense on his part, and that Reed did not have a gun at the end of the altercation because George A. Fay (who was the operator of the shooting gallery and Mulhall's friend), disarmed Frank Reed before authorities arrived.
On July 29th, 1904, the court set an August court date so Morgan could stabilize enough to testify. Mulhall was charged with two motions of intent to kill of Morgan and Reed. The trial took place in January, 1905. Mulhall was sentenced to three years in prison.
Reed refused to swear out a warrant against Mulhall. Thomas J. Rowe (Mulhall's attorney), argued that his client did not get a fair trial because they were from Texas and one of the victims was Texan (During this era, Oklahoma and Texas had a hot rivalry). Mulhall continued to claim that the bullet that hit Morgan did not come from his gun. Morgan rebutted Zack's arguement.
After the trial, Morgan was awarded 5,000 dollars in damages from Mulhall in a civil suit in December, 1905.
Zack Mulhall was denied appeal at the Circuit Court level, but was later released on a 3,000 dollar bond pending an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. In 1907, the case was ruled self-defense.
Within a week of the shooting, Zack Mulhall was banned from the Fair and fairgrounds. The banishment did not affect Mulhall's children, but by July, Lucille, Charley and Will Rogers soon left, the former two performed at an alternative show (directed by their father), outside the fairgrounds.
A few days after the incident, Chiefs Geronimo and Blue Horse and 750 Indians complained that the Mulhall cowboys snapped their revolved in the their faces- an act of disrespect. This, along with prior heated debates with Mulhall, created tensions so high that all the Mulhall cowboys quit the show (allegedly due to Indian threats).
By September, 1904, relations between Geronimo and Zack Mulhall had improved.
Tom Mix played some engagements with the Mulhall Ranch Show.
After the demise of the Mulhall Ranch Show and financial troubles which left Col. Zack near bankrupt, Mix influenced Charley to come to Hollywood and Charley Mulhall was a stunt man for several years in cowboy movies.
Geronimo was an admirer of Lucille's talent and gave her a beaded vest and a decorated Indian bow.
Fifteen years earlier, Zack Mulhall was seriously wounded in a shootout.
After the shooting he became a prominent rancher in southern New Mexico. Many accounts in the Roswell Daily Record, Carlsbad Current, El Paso Herald and several other newspapers show the spelling of his name to be Murrah. In 1920 he was poisoned by his bother Will, not "gunned down by his brother-in-law over money". Information credited to: Beth Gallegos Thank you.