Cowgirl Celebrates 106 Years


When Isora DeRacy Young saw her first day of life in 1904, it was without the fanfare that she has since experienced as an independent woman who developed a national reputation in the rodeo arena, as well as a rancher and business woman.


Set to celebrate her 106th birthday on May 20, Isora Young of Stephenville, Texas, is the oldest living member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. She may also be the oldest living woman in Texas following the death of Eunice Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas, on January 2011, at the age of 114.

The Texas Legislature will honor Young with a proclamation on May 20th and will fly a flag over the Texas Capital Building that will be later presented to her.

Young was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1979 and was honored for her role as a champion calf roper and barrel racer from a time when women in rodeo were very rare. She began competing in the early 1930s and was promoted as one of only two cowgirl calf ropers in the world. She followed the rodeo circuit all across the country and aided in the organization of the GRA until she retired to ranching.


“Isora is a great testimony to the resiliency of women raised in the West,” said the Museum’s Executive Director Pat Riley. “Women of today can learn so much from her life that included fame, a long marriage and the birth of her entrepreneurial spirit.”

Young, who still lives independently with a cat named Sugar, was recently profiled in Erath County Living where she speaks of a life that did not include public school until she was 15 and being named a deputy sheriff in Reeves County where she carried a pearl-handled revolver while she collected taxes.

She married I.W. “Dub” Young in 1939 and the two traveled throughout the West competing in rodeos before buying a ranch near Stephenville. After leasing their ranch in 1947, they moved to South Dakota to ranch and continue rodeoing until their retirement from the sport. The couple returned to Erath County and Isora began an income tax service business. When Dub died in 1976, Isora had 400 customers and moved to Stephenville.

“I wanted to stay on the ranch but Dub told me when he was gone, I should move to town,” she related to the magazine. “So that’s what I did.”

Young enjoys a family that includes three granddaughters, six great-grandchildren and five great great grandchildren.

“I’ve sure had fun,” she said. “I can eat anything I want and I really like spicy food. I haven’t been sick that much; my hearing and eyesight are not what they used to be, but I can still get around all right. I’ve got wonderful memories, but all my old friends are gone.”

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire.

Located at 1720 Gendy Street in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the museum includes interactive exhibit galleries, three theaters, a retail store and a grand rotunda housing the Hall of Fame. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and $8 for children ages 3 to 12 and seniors ages 60 and up. Please visit or call 817.336.4475 or 800.476.FAME (3263) for more information.




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