This collection includes a number of photographs of Cuba Crutchfield performing or teaching trick roping skills, programs from early stage performances, and certificates of land allotments. He performed on stage in Wild West shows and followed his cousin Will Rogers into show business. He is most known for his trick roping that often no one could duplicate.
Cuba Island Crutchfield was born to Frank and Ida McDaniel Crutchfield on March 15, 1891, in Claremore, Oklahoma, the same birthplace as Will Rogers.
He left Oklahoma at an early age to join a Wild West show. In 1910, he was a member of a Western melodrama company playing “The Cowboy, the Indian and the Lady,” which passed through northern Nevada just before the July 4th world heavyweight championship boxing match between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries.
By age 12, Crutchfield was already spinning ropes with skill and planned to follow Rogers into show business. In 1912, “Buffalo” Bill Cody saw him perform and invited him to join his Wild West show. Crutchfield performed with Annie Oakley, among others, as the troupe toured Philadelphia, New York, and other cities.
By 1915, he joined the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show and performed rope tricks no one else duplicated. By 1918, he was a regular on Broadway, sometimes using the name Will Crutchfield, and usually performing as a team with his wife, Helena Travis Crutchfield.
Crutchfield turned his attention to the more lucrative rodeo circuit during the summers after he spent much of the rest of the year in show business. He performed and competed at the Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon, the Boise Stampede in Idaho, the Calgary Stampede, and Cheyenne Frontier Days. From at around 1925 through 1928, Crutchfield was commissioned during the weeks prior to each rodeo event to teach Chicago children roping skills.
In 1924, a film company in Los Angeles signed Crutchfield to star in four western films. He was billed as “Cuba Coolidge,” and three of the films were produced before the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
Cuba and his wife Helena decided to retire from show business. They bought their ranch property near Galena Creek, built a two-story stone home and settled into a comfortable life. Cuba rarely talked of his days as a performer, though he did sometimes show off his roping skills.
In 1966, a large Sierra wildfire destroyed several out-buildings on the Crutchfield ranch – and much of Cuba’s memorabilia from his performing days. With Cuba aging and suffering heart problems, he and his second wife Ann moved to a home in Washoe Valley. In 1968, the Crutchfields attended Will Rogers Day festivities in Claremore. He rode a white horse in the parade and was the subject of a story in the local newspaper.
Cuba Crutchfield died October 14, 1969, at home in Washoe Valley. A man who had entertained thousands in his life was remembered in a small service in Carson City, attended mostly by his neighbors. Crutchfield rests today in Carson City’s Lone Mountain Cemetery beside his wife Ann, who died in 1997 at age 98.
Daughter of Peter J. and Loretta (Fischer) Pauley, Alma Ann Pauley Crutchfield was born February 15, 1899 in Columbia County, Wisconsin. She was the fifth child of eleven children. She lived in Illinois and Michigan before moving to Nevada in her later years with her siblings Helen, Alice, and John. She first married William Gaston, but after his death married Cuba Crutchfield. She died on June 15, 1997 and is buried in Carson City next to her husband in the Lone Mountain Cemetery.
Clifton, Guy. “The Silent Star.” Reno Gazette-Journal, n.d. http://www.carson-city.nv.us/Index.aspx?page=2042
“Alma Ann Pauley Crutchfield.” Findagrave.com.
Scope & Content Note
This collection contains seven photographs, four photographic postcards, five programs, one passport, one certificate of allotment, one certificate of homestead allotment, and three letters and excerpts from Cuba Crutchfield’s unpublished biography. The photographs and postcards present Crutchfield trick roping. The programs are from various venues where Crutchfield performed.
Rogers, Will, 1879-1935
This collection was accessioned on August 5, 1989. The scope and content note was written by librarian Karen Spilman in March 2003. The current finding aid was written and updated online by archivist/librarian Laura Anne Heller in November 2009.
The Mrs. Cuba Crutchfield Collection is the property of the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Literary right, including copyright, belongs to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, with the exception of copyrighted artwork images and published literary works, which are the property of the respective copyright holders. It is the responsibility of the researcher, and his/her publisher, to obtain publishing permission from individuals pictured, relevant copyright holders, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Restrictions on Access
The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.
Mrs. Cuba Crutchfield Collection, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
| Series 1: Mrs. Cuba Crutchfield Collection
Photographs have been cataloged in the Image Archive Database, but none have been scanned yet. All ephemera in this collection have the accession number R.262.01.
|Box/Folder #||Accession #||Folder Title/Description|
|1/4||R.262.1.01||Boy Champs off for rodeo camp, August 30-27. Underwood & Underwood Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 10×8 in.|
|R.262.1.01||Typed description of R.262.1.01.|
|R.262.01||First Annual Circus L.I.G.H.T.S. Club Souvenir Program. Freeport, L.I. July 10, 1920.|
|R.262.01||“Jack Morrissey Australian Whip Snapper opened at Keith’s Bushwick Theater in Brooklyn.” Advertisement. The Billboard, September 28, 1918.|
|R.262.01||“Vaudeville Reviews by Special Wire.” The Billboard, September 28, 1918.|
|R.262.01||“Crutchfield, Wizard of the Rope.” Article. The World Magazine, January 11, 1920.|
|R.262.1.02||Cuba Crutchfield. 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 9.5×7.5 in.|
|R.262.01||Becker, Bob. “The Rope Tricks of the Wild West.” Popular Mechanics, n.d. Newspaper clipping.|
|R.262.01||Cunard Line: Programme of Entertainment in aid of British & American Seamen’s Charities. January 26, 1921.|
|R.262.01||Birmingham Empire Programme, Moss’ Empires Ltd. March 7, 1921.|
|R.262.1.03||Stars Who Will Twinkle at News Photographer’s Ass’n Dinner, 1920. Photograph, b&w, 9.5×7 in. Names mentioned: Keegan S. Edwards, Gilda Gray, Ted Lewis, Al Herman, May Gerald, Joe Parsons, Happy Jack Lambert, Bill Crutchfield.|
|R.262.01||“Crutchfield’s Challenge: Would Meet Tex McLeod for Fancy Roping Supremacy.” Article. n.d.|
|R.262.1.04||Cuba Crutchfield trick roping. 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 7×5.25 in.|
|R.262.1.05||Cuba Crutchfield trick roping. 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 7×5.25 in.|
|R.262.1.06||Cuba Crutchfield trick roping. 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 7×5.25 in.|
|R.262.1.07||Cuba Crutchfield trick roping, Tex Austin’s rodeo Chicago. 1927. Ralph R. Doubleday, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in.|
|R.262.1.08||Idaho Sept. 8 to 10, 1910. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in.|
|R.262.1.09||Cuba Crutchfield rope spinning Round-up Pendleton, Ore, 1915. Lee Moorehouse, photographer. Photographic postcard, b&w, 3.5×5.5 in.|
|R.262.01||Hughes, Rodney. “Noted Star Returns as R-Up Spectator,” East Oregonian, Saturday, September 16, 1961. Newspaper clipping.|
|R.262.01||Glasgow Alhambra Ltd. Programme. March 21, 1921|
|R.262.01||Alhambra Bradford. Moss’ Empires Ltd. Programme. February 7, 1921.|
|R.262.01||Will Crutchfield “Certificate of Registration, Aliens Order, 1919.” Includes a passport sized photograph.|
|R.262.01||“Rope Spinning Artist.” Photo & caption. Carson City Nevada Appeal, Sunday, July, 1967. Newspaper clipping.|
|R.262.01||“The Crutchfields Western Novelty Act In A Cowboys Flirtation, Singing, Talking, and Rope Spinning.” Stationary.|
|R.262.01||Capitol Theatre, Broadway at 51st Street, New York. Program of events, 1919.|
|R.262.01||Correspondence from H.F. Miller, dated August 24, 1925. Chicago Association of Commerce.|
|R.262.01||Envelope. Chicago Association of Commerce.|
|R.262.1.10||King roper teaches boys. Underwood & Underwood Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1920 ca. Photograph, b&w, 8×10 in.|
|R.262.1.10||Typed description of R.262.1.10.|
|R.262.01||Certificate of Allotment for 30 acres in Tahlequah, March 1st, 1905, for Cuba Crutchfield. Cherokee Land Office, Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, Department of the Interior.|
|R.262.01||Certificate of Homestead Allotment for 20 acres in Tahlequah, March 1st, 1905, for Cuba Crutchfield. Cherokee Land Office, Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, Department of the Interior.|
|R.262.01||Correspondence from J.S. Webb suggesting Cuba Crutchfield should write a biography. Includes a preface. March 20, 1965.|
|R.262.01||Affidavit. Broken Bow, Oklahoma, December 29, 1959. Concerning “solid German Silver spurs” presented to Cuba Crutchfield at the World’s Fair in San Francisco in June 1915.|
|R.262.01||“Cuba I. Crutchfield Trick Roper Dies.” n.d. Newspaper clipping.|
|R.262.1.11||Tablet on the Lexington-Concord road, in Lincoln, where Revere’s famous midnight ride ended. 1926. Photographic postcard, b&w, 8×10 in.|
|R.262.01||List of training films made for the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch featuring Cuba Crutchfield states they were lost in a fire on the Williams Ranch, DeQueen, Arkansas.|
|R.262.01||“Excerpts taken from the late Cuba Crutchfield’s unfinished biography.” 2 pages.|
|1/5||R.262.01||Black 3-ring binder which originally housed the above photographs and documents.|