Legend tells that outlaw “Cattle Annie” and her sidekick, “Little Britches” (Jennie Stevenson Midkiff), were spies for or part of the Doolin Gang. Born in Kansas on November 29, 1882, Emma McDoulet was the daughter of Judge J. C. and Rebecca McDoulet. Judge McDoulet had studied law in Kentucky and served as a justice of the peace in Red Rock, Indian Territory, as well as an attorney for Indians living nearby.
In her youth Emma McDoulet worked in restaurants and as a domestic until she turned to crime. She bought a pony and saddle and with Jennie Midkiff roamed the territory. She was living on the Otoe Reservation when she and Midkiff were arrested for selling liquor to Indians. In September 1895 McDoulet was remanded to a reformatory at Framingham, Massachusetts. Prison records describe her as single, age sixteen (she was actually thirteen), five-feet, three-and-one-half inches tall, and weighing 122 pounds.
Over the years various legends developed about Oklahoma's most famous girl outlaws. Numerous reports attributed the girls' capture to Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman. Tilghman probably never had anything to do with the event, as newspapers credit the arrests to Sheriff Frank Lake and deputy U.S. marshals Steve Burke and Frank Canton. Records do not indicate that either girl had been involved with the Doolins or any other gang.
Reformatory records do indicate that Anna did not wish to return home, for fear that she would relapse into crime. After her release on April 18, 1898, she obtained a job, probably as a domestic, with a Mrs. Mary Daniels, in Sherborn, Massachusetts. However, McDoulet did return to Oklahoma.
She married Earl Frost in Perry, Oklahoma Territory, on March 13, 1901, and they had two children. In October 1909 in Noble County the couple divorced, probably because Emma had joined a Wild West show. Later she married Whitmore R. Roach, a general contractor, and they lived in Oklahoma City.
“Cattle Annie” lived out her life as a quiet, respectable bookkeeper. She was an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Olivet Baptist Church. Emma McDoulet died November 7, 1978, and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Oklahoma City.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Steve Bunch, “Gravestone Mystery Solved,” Oklahombres 6 (Summer 1995). Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 8 November 1978. Nancy B. Samuelson, “Cattle Annie & Little Britches: Prison Records Located on Oklahoma's Famous Female Outlaws,” Oklahombres, 6 (Spring 1995). Nancy B. Samuelson, Shoot from the Lip: The Lives, Legends, and Lies of the Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma and U.S. Marshal Nix (Eastford, Conn.: Shooting Star Press, 1998).
Nancy B. Samuelson
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