Alice May Sisty (1906-1953)

Alice May Sisty (1906-1953)

John Sisty (Cisti) Home Page back to previous generation

Alice6 Sisty (Tunis Walter,5 Mahlon,4 William,3 John,2 John1)

Alice May Sisty was born on 12th of January 1906 in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey to Tunis Walter Sisty and Laura Amelia Manning. Tunis Walter Sisty’s sister was named Alice so, presumably, Alice was named after her aunt.

On rare occasions the US Census will have the same person(s) listed more than once on separate census sheets. This happened to Alice and her mother, Laura, in 1910.

Daughters of the American Revolution

Alice May Sisty was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, National Number 228333. Her mother, Laura Amelia Manning, was descended from Andrew Manning, a private serving in Colonel Webster’s 1st Regiment in the militia from the State of New Jersey.

From the DAR application:

Family History

Andrew Manning and his son Begimin gought (sic) in the Revolutionary War, and had eighteen Revolutionary soldiers quartered in their house during the winter. – Told by Bengimin Manning himself to Joel D. Manning, my father who is his grandson – Sarah T. Manning

Repeated to me by Sarah T Manning, a cousin. whose national no. is #16325 – Alice May Zook

In 1910 (on April 19th) Alice is living in Piscataway, Middlesex, New Jersey. She is living with her mother, Laura, her grandmother, Susan Manning, her uncle, Albert S. Manning, and her aunt Emma Manning. Susan is 83, Albert is 53, Emma is 45, Laura is 35 and Alice is 4 years old. Susan is widowed, Albert and Emma are single and Laura has been married for 3 years. Susan has had 9 children and 4 are still living and Laura has had 1 child. Susan was born in New York and her parents were born in France and Germany. Albert, Emma, Laura and Alice and their parents were born in New Jersey. Albert is a contractor, he was not out of work on the census date and he worked all of 1909.

In 1910 (on April 26th) Alice is living on Stage Road in Piscataway, Middlesex. She is living with her parents, Walter and Laura. Walter is 45, Laura is 40 and Alice is 4 years old. Walter and Laura have been married for 5 years and Laura has had one child. Walter was born in Pennsylvania and Laura and Alice were born in New Jersey. Walter does not have a trade or a profession identified. Walter’s mother, Anna Sisty, is listed as a separate household.

In 1920 Alice is living on Bound Brook Road in Middlesex, Middlesex County, New Jersey. She is living with her parents, F. Walter Sisty and Laura and her grandmother, Anna C. Sisty. Alice is 14, Walter is 54, Laura is 45 and Anna is 82 years old. Walter and Laura are married, Alice is single and Anna is widowed. Walter and Anna and their parents were born in Pennsylvania and Laura and Alice and Laura’s parents were born in New Jersey. Walter owns the home and it is mortgaged. Walter is a taxidermist at home.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
June 16, 1922


Wayside Park, June 15. Miss Alice Sisty, of Middlesex Borough, a freshman of the Washington High School, Bound Brook yesterday won the Casterlin Alumni Prize for public speaking, in competition with all grades. Miss Sisty is a pupil of Madam Ridley Atchison, of Dunellen, and recited "The Maniac" in true dramatic style. The prize was a beautiful solid gold medal. The judges were, Miss Ruth Le Fevre, of Plainfield High School; Rev. H. E. Green, of Bound Brook; E. Stanley Phillips, Somerville High School.

On the 9th of June 1923 Alice M. Sisty married Allan Zook. Allan was born on the 7th of December 1896. Alice was seventeen years old and Allan was twenty-six years old. Allan was born in Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania to William T. Zook and Abigail L. Evans. Allan died on the 29th of June 1975 in Dunedin, Pinellas County, Florida.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
August 21, 1923


The many friends of Miss Alice M. Sisty, daughter of T. Walter Sisty, of Dunellen, will be surprised to hear of her marriage to Allen Zook, of Malvern, Pa., which occurred on June 6 of this year, while the bride was visiting an aunt in Philadelphia.

A week previous to the marriage, the couple met while Miss Sisty was visiting another aunt at Long Branch, and at that time arranged for an elopement, which started from the home of the aunt at Philadelphia. The couple went from Philadelphia to Elkton, Maryland, where the ceremony was performed by the Rev. T. J. Moon, pastor of the First Baptist Church of that place.

Mr. Zook is a graduate of both Haverford College and Harvard University. At present, he is on a business trip through the New England States. Upon the expiration of his present business contracts on January 1, the couple will leave on a honeymoon trip to Florida, after which they will reside in Philadelphia.

Mr. Sisty, father of the bride stated this morning that he was at a loss to understand why an elopement had been decided upon, as both families were agreeable to the marriage. The bride is eighteen years of age and Mr. Zook is twenty-six.

In 1924 Alice Sisty had a stillborn child in Montgomery, Kentucky. Allan Zook was listed as the father.

In 1927 Allan Zook and his wife, Alice M., are living at 717 Arlington Avenue, Apartment 2C in Plainfield New Jersey. Allan is a teacher.

Reno Gazette-Journal

Reno, NV
March 26, 1928


Alice May Zook vs. Allan Zook; (among others)

and on page 4 -


Alice May Zook from Allan Took; (among others)

Omaha World Journal

May 16, 1928

Rides a Pinto Express
Safely Divorced in Reno, Alice May Sisty Is Returning to New York on Horseback.

Here is Alice May Sisty and her pinto, Spot Tail, an Arabian-Indian steed with a mean eye, and mayor Dahlman. Alice is not a cowgirl, though she has all the trademarks of one down to the big jangling spurs that make a loud clatter when she dismounts for a walk.

Miss Sisty, just an inch or two over five feet tall, brunette, and not by any means self-assertive, clattered into Mayor Dahlman’s office today on her way to New York at the rate of about 30 miles a day.

She has been to Reno, Nev., for a divorce, which she says she obtained, and she is riding back to the old folks, who live in Bound Brook, N.J. She is 21, she told The World-Herald, but she declined to go into her life history further than to say that her one hope is to get east again with no broken bones.

“I lost one horse in Wyoming,” the young woman said, “Something got the matter with it and I bought this one that I was told Mayor Dahlman rode when he attended a Frontier day celebration.

Spot Tail is gentle,” she said, stroking his neck and searching for a mesmeric spot near the ears where any horse likes to be pacified. “He got frightened at a locomotive at North Platte and threw me. My spur caught and I would have been badly hurt if the strap holding it hadn’t broken.”

Miss Sisty anxiously asked the mayor if he thought a wire out on Spot Tail’s ankle would put him out.

“Not if you keep it covered,” he replied.

“I was trying to get out of a pasture over a gate,” she said, “and this happened, pointing to a bandage around Spot’s ankle.

The mayor kept a close watch on the horse as he was being photographed with the girl.

“I never saw a pinto with an eye like that that you didn’t have to watch,” he said, and looked relieved when he got out of rearing distance.

Miss Sisty put up at the Fontenelle but she said she had a hard time finding a place for the horse. Finally Fred Schroeder at Twenty-second and Cuming streets, volunteered to help her out.

The Gettysburg Times

June 21, 1928

Girl, Riding Home From Reno Divorce Mill, Stops Here

The girl who walked home from an automobile ride now has a counterpart in the young woman, riding home from a Reno divorce, who spent the day here.

The girl is Alice Mae Sisty, 21, who is headed for her home in Bound Brook, New Jersey. She arrived here Wednesday evening and put up for the night at the Hotel Gettysburg.

Miss Sisty, after securing her decree in Nevada, found herself short of funds. So purchasing a pinto and starting eastward she reached Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the pinto went bad and had to be shot. There at Cheyenne she bought the mustang, which she is now riding from Sheriff George W. Carroll.

The animal, named Spottail, is a typical western pony and as his rider admits is not a “gaited” animal.

"What would I do with a gaited animal on a long trip. They’re all right to ride in parks, but they don’t stand up so well under the strain of day-long travel over rock and sand.”

Miss Sisty, the name she goes by, refusing to divulge her married name, says that she has been on the road for three months and her average distance is 30 miles a day, except when she is detained by inclement weather.

She is traveling attired in what generally passes for the correct riding costume of the wild and wooly west, flaming yellow shirtwaist, whipcord riding trousers, buckskins, chaparejos, loosely knotted handkerchief around her neck and a weather-stained ten-gallon hat, “just like Mr. Coolidge sometimes wears.”

“In the east I don’t attract much attention,’ said Miss Sisty. “People pass me in cars along the road. If they wave, I don’t mind, but when they laugh and smile tolerantly, it makes me boil. They don’t know what it is to ride a horse month to month. Now in the west, it’s different. Out there men and women know that riding a horse day after day is hard work both for the horse and the rider and they give you credit.

“Yes, I carry a revolver.” Here she dived into the depths of a saddlebag and produced a pearl-handled .38 wrapped in a towel. It was fully loaded. Out west I was not afraid but in the east there are such strange noises along the roads at night, Hikers come along at all hours and some times they sit along the road and I see only the red ash of their cigarettes. I don’t know them, so I got my gun ready for trouble.”

In some towns Miss Sisty picks up a little change by extemporaneous theatrical engagements, doing roping stunts, reading western tales and the like.

She’s bound for New York to see Mayor Jimmy Walker. After a stay with her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sisty, of Bound Brook, she plans to return to the west.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
June 21, 1928

Middlesex Borough Girl Riding Home From Reno Is Expected Home In July

Reverting back to the call of her fathers who tried the trail westward in search of gold, fame and glory, Alice May Sisty, a former Plainfield resident and daughter of T. Walter Sisty, taxidermist of Middlesex Borough, is riding eastward from Reno, Nev., astride a fiery, pinto pony and attired in the picturesque garb of the cowgirl.

Alice last wrote to her father from Omaha where she received a cordial western welcome. In her entire ride through sandy wastes, steep mountain hills and sometimes on civilized macadamized roads, she was greeted in true western style. Sheriffs, mayors, prominent city officials and business men feted her and presented gifts. Newspapermen hurried out with notebooks and flashlight paraphernalia. Theatrical men beset her with offers. Alice May, twenty-one-year-old easterner riding a la western fashion, proved a novelty to the west itself.

For westerners had never seen a girl with courage enough to make the long trek with sparse funds and no other companion than a horse. Freezing weather, sand storms and sometimes lack of food and shelter did not deter Alice from her scheduled route.

Two Horses Worn Out

By the time she had reached Cheyenne, she had worn out two horses and was without a means of travel. Sheriff George A. Carroll of Cheyenne gallantly offered her his favorite mount, “Spot Tail,” an experienced circus performer. The horse has proven dependable thus far.

In Omaha, Alice was presented with a saddle by “Harness Bill,” who only makes saddles for contest riders and theatrical performers. Sometime ago she had been given a saddle by the late Dr. Hawkins of Plainfield, former superintendent of a hospital in Denver. At Omaha she was entertained by J. W. Elwood, president of the Northwestern School of Taxidermy.

Next Stop at Des Moines

Her next stop is expected to be at Des Moines. She is stopping at the principal cities along the route and is not making the trip on schedule time. She is traveling the Lincoln Highway and the parallel dirt roads.

Plainfielders who remember when Alice lived in the Bloom Apartments for a short time about three years ago recall her roving, restless disposition. As a small girl on her father’s farm in Middlesex, she early exhibited tendencies for outdoor life. Sometimes she would refuse to be confined by four walls and would camp outside the house, cooking her own meals. She helped her father in his taxidermy business and was well known to many in the neighborhood.

Bought Horse With Train-Fare

When Alice informed her parents that she was about to leave for home astride a horse and not in a Pullman, she was met with a flood of protests. Undaunted, the girl used the train fare given her to buy a horse. Her other expenses have been met by the hospitality of those she encountered on her route.

She has sent home a flood of newspaper clippings and photographs. Since her trip thus far has been a long procession of triumphs and she has undergone no serious accidents, her parents have relented somewhat their opposition of her escapade. When she arrives home sometime in July the fatted calf will be prepared by her mother, Mrs. Laura A. Sisty.

Her parents expect Alice to accept theatrical offers upon her arrival. She has been in several vaudeville engagements while on her present trip, reciting “Lasca” and other western stories and doing a few roping tricks and cowboy stunts taught her by the people she met along the trail. She is advertising the Cheyenne Frontier Day celebration to be held July 14 to July 28. The celebration committee is financing the trip. She wears a yellow silk shirt which advertises the western outdoor event and the dates. Her usual procedure is to go into a town, do a few lariat roping stunts and start the pony bucking. Then she goes to the leading theatre and gives a cowboy recitation and distributes circulars advertising the Frontier Day.

From Pioneer Stock

The girl come from hardy, pioneer stock. Her father, T. Walter Sisty, has always been fond of the outdoor life and is an experienced traveler. His strong, rugged frame is evidence of his style of living. Mr. Sisty has used his skill as a naturalist in his taxidermy business.He is especially proud of his two mounted sage hens which Alice sent home as souvenirs of her trip, exhibiting the trophies in the sun-parlor.

Grandfather a “Sky-Pilot”

Mr. Sisty’s father was a circuit-riding parson, known in the vernacular of the west as a “sky-pilot.” This member of the family was an editor of the “Carbon County Pioneer” of Mauch Chunk, Pa., the first newspaper in that county. He held prayer meetings in the days when strong men were employed to ward off any “tough hombres”who delighted in breaking up such assemblages with their fists.

There was Alice May’s uncle, Wilson Sisty, who also trekked across the continent to California before the hectic gold rush days of ’49. Wilson was accompanied by his wife, Ann McClain, a girl reared in the luxury of a well-to-do Philadelphia family. They built their home in Colorado , calling it “Sisty’s Brookvale.” The town of Brookvale is named for the house.

Another pioneer member of the family was Nathan Hellings, grand-uncle of Alice May, who at the age of fifteen or sixteen ran away from home with $75 to join the other prospectors at the time of the California gold rush. Hellings took passage in a small sailing vessel, the “Seabird,” which went by way of Cape of Good Horn. After three years of hardships and privations, Hellings returned home with $30,000 in gold dust. His health suffered severely and he lay between life and death for six weeks at Bristol, Pa.

With such an hereditary spur. it is little wonder, Alice’s parents think, that their daughter cast off the veneer of civilization to take up the saddle and the blanket. They respect her restless, wandering disposition and admire her as a “chip of the old block.” And when Alice rides up to the family homestead, she will not be spanked and put away to bed. More likely the whole family will camp back of the taxidermy office and in the flare of the campfire listen expectantly of the tales of their adventuresome offspring.

Trenton Evening News

June 29, 1928

Nearing Goal, Youthful Divorcee, Riding Pony on Reno-Jersey Trip, Stops in Trenton, Greets Cousin

Smiling at a steady rain and flourishing her broad-brimmed hat in true Western fashion as she mounted her pony, Miss Alice May Sisty, 21 years old, left the Stacy-Trent this morning on the last lap of a more than 3,000-mile horseback ride from Reno to Dunellen, this State.

“The rain does not matter, for tonight I have date with my mother, and I shall be happy in anticipation all day,” declared Miss Sisty. She has made the long journey unaccompanied. Her mount, an Arabian Indian pony, “Spot Tail,” developed a saddle sore the other day, and he did not seem over-anxious for the start, but once Miss Sisty had mounted, he faced the rain bravely and started off.

Just before breakfasting, Miss Sisty telephoned her cousin, Dr. H. Lynn Bassett, at Yardley, Pa., telling the family that she was in Trenton, and expected to make 40 miles today and reach home. Miss Sisty frequently visited the Bassett home, and is well known in Yardley and this city. She is a member of Elizabeth Snyder Chapter, D. A. R. of North Plainfield.

The trip to Nevada was, of course, for the purpose of obtaining a divorce. This accomplished, Miss Sisty at once started on her ride home. She has earned her way home by appearing in theatres, giving a rope act, exhibiting her pony and reciting cowboy poetry. Miss Sisty, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. W, Sisty, bears an invitation to Mayor “Jimmy” Walker, of New York, to attend the “Frontier Days” celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming. At this event the champion riders are determined.

While Miss Sisty talked freely of her experience in making the homeward journey and was delighted with the success in obtaining her divorce, she denied having intentions of going into the “movies.” However, she has a contract to ride with Art Mix, brother of Tom Mix, at an event in Lancaster, Pa., July 4 to 8.

Notwithstanding that Miss Sisty told a very entertaining story of her trip, she absolutely refused to give he marriage name, saying that it would do no good, and adding that she desired to shield her former husband, a successful and widely known business man.

“Yes, I will try marriage again, as one mistake does not sour me – marry early and often is my motto,” said Miss Sisty, who stated that she had eloped to Elkton when 18 year of age. This marriage lasted until sometime before the few months ago when she sought and obtained freedom in Reno.

Miss Sisty had made an average of about 31 miles a day on her trip. Last night she stopped with the family of H. Johnson, 22 Cedar Lane. She had intended to register at the Stacy-Trent, but reached Trenton very late, coming from Camden, after having crossed the Delaware River toll bridge there “free.” Early this morning she left the Johnson home and stopped at the Stacy-Trent for mail, to telephone and for refreshment.

St. Albans Daily Messenger

St. Albans, VT
June 30, 1928

Plainfield, N. J., - (AP) – Alice May Sisty, 21, has come all the way home from Reno by Bronco. She used three of them.

Augusta Chronicle

Augusta, GA
July 18, 1928

Out of the West up the steps of New York’s City Hall rode Alice May Sisty on her broncho Spottail. Her 3,000 mile ride ended, she handed to Charles E. Kerrigan, assistant to Mayor Jimmy Walker, an invitation to attend the Cheyenne, Wyo., frontier celebration July 24-28.

State Times Advocate

Baton Rouge, LA
July 26, 1928


Lancaster, Pa. – A new way to celebrate a Reno divorce was disclosed when Alive Mae Sisty stopped here on her way to Plainfield, N. J. She came – and went – astride a horse. When the business in Reno had been settled she decided on this novel means of going home. “Ride a horse 3000 miles and you’ll never wish for more happiness,” she said.

We know that Alice stopped at the following places on the way from Reno, Nevada to New York City:
  • Reno, Nevada train to
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Morgan, Utah
  • Point of Rocks, Wyoming (4/8)
  • Wamsutter, Wyoming
  • Medicine Bow, Wyoming (4/13)
  • Laramie, Wyoming
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • North Platte, Nebraska
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Davenport, Iowa (6/6)
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (6/20)
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Plainfield, New Jersey (6/30)
  • New York City


Rockford, IL
October 29, 1928

HANG ON, SISTER – And how she does. Miss Alice N. Sisty sticks tighter than a leech to her horse “Buck Tail” in front of city hall, New York. The rodeo is in town and this is one of Alice’s pet stunts.

Plain Dealer

Cleveland, OH
November 4, 1928

THRILLING NEW YORK. Miss Alice N. Sisty, cowgirl with a rodeo, does one of her pet stunts for the entertainment of pedestrians in the vicinity of City Hall.

On the 29th of September 1929 Alice May Sisty married Earl Sutton, Jr. in Traverse City, Grand Traverse, Michigan. Earl was born in 1903 in Cleborn, Texas to Earl Sutton and Lela Hensley. Alice was born in 1906 in Netcong, New Jersey to T. Walter Sisty and Laura A. Manning. Earl was 26 and Alice was 23 years old.

El Paso Evening Post

El Paso, TX
March 21, 1930


Alice Sisty, all-around cowgirl, will feature the rodeo performance to be held at the Juarez bullring Sunday afternoon with an exhibition of bronco riding, roping and trick riding.

In 1928, Miss Sisty gained nation-wide publicity by riding from Reno, Nev., to New York City on horseback.

Her husband, Earl Sutton, will do some bronco busting, steer bulldogging and roping at the Sunday rodeo.

Both are from the 101 ranch in Oklahoma.

Boston Herald

April 6, 1932

Alice Sisty Finds Ex-Husband Also Employed Here

Contestants in the Texas Rangers Rodeo which open Friday at the Boston Arena will include a man and woman recently divorced from each other, Miss Alice Sisty of Corpus Christi, Tex., and Earl Sutton, better known as “Peavine Slim,” of Ponca City, Okla.

Miss Sisty and Sutton were married several years ago. Two weeks ago she received a divorce at Reno, Nev. Yesterday she arrived in Boston for the Rodeo. Sutton has been here for a few days and, it is rumored, will announce an engagement during the Rodeo here.

Last year at the Rodeo in Boston Garden Miss Sisty finished second in cowgirl trick riding and cowgirl bronc riding, in which events she is entered this year.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
May 27, 1932


Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Sisty of Middlesex Borough announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Alice May Sisty, to Milton D. Hinkle, rancher and rodeo producer of Bovina, Tex. The ceremony was performed in the arena at New Haven, Conn., April 21.

Mrs. Hinkle is spoken of as an all-round cowgirl, clever and unafraid. She finished second in the cowgirls’ bronc riding contests of the championship rodeos in New York and the Boston Garden last fall.

From the National Cowboy Museum

In 1932 Alice Sisty was one of several riders, including Pauline Lorenz, Rose Davis, Alice Adams, and Ivadell Jacobs, who were employed by Clyde Miller. Sisty married Milt Hinkle, nicknamed “The South American Kid,” on horseback in the arena at New Haven, Connecticut. During the 1930s Sisty did trick riding on her horse, Chappo, and competed in the cowgirls’ bronc riding.

The Brownsville Herald

Brownsville, TX
June 13, 1932


Milt Hinkle, rodeo star who appeared at the Valley Mid-Winter fair two years ago, is in the lime-light again - this time due to his new bride.

Hinkle was arrested in Houston on a charge of violating the child labor law by using children performers in his rodeo.

His bride, Alice M. Sisty, star bareback performer with the rodeo went to jail with him. When Hinkle was refused bond, she remained at the police station, refusing to leave. Now the Boston police have a problem on their hands - they have to care for Alice until the matter is settled.

Hinkle is well known in the Valley.

Aberdeen Daily News

South Dakota
July 30, 1933

Trick, Fancy Riding Strong Rodeo Feature
Texas Rangers Rodeo Declared To Be Far Superior to Ordinary Wild West Show; World Champion Woman Rider Performs Thrilling Feats; Local Entries Sought

One of the strongest features of the Texas Rangers Rodeo, which under the direction of Milt Hinkle will appear each afternoon and evening at the Tri-State Fair September 4-5-6-7, is the group of cowboy and cowgirl trick and fancy riders, people who have seen the show declare.

Led by Miss Alice Sisty, Mexico City, these hard riding boys and girls do seemingly impossible feats on and off the backs of their swiftly charging horses.

Little Miss Sisty, though young in years, is a veteran of many rodeos and for the past five season has been the acknowledged all-around cowgirl of the world. At Pendleton, Fort Worth, Cheyenne and Madison Square Garden in New York she has defied all competition for her crown and it is her proud boast that she has never been bucked off a horse, though she had ridden some of the country’s “saltiest” bucking horses.

She is equally at home on a wild steer or riding a bareback wild horse. She is the only woman to ever hurdle an automobile standing on the backs of two horses and is an expert at Roman Standing racing. As a trick and fancy rider she is generally considered the greatest of all time. Her most spectacular feat is that of going completely under the belly of her horse and up on the other side while the steed is going at full speed down the arena.

Aberdeen Daily News

South Dakota
August 13, 1933

FEAR NOT FOR THIS PRETTY LADY - The smiling girl under the dashing horse is Miss Alice Sisty of Mexico City who will be among the celebrities thrilling attendants at the Texas Rangers’ Rodeo during the Tri-State Fair here in September 4 to 7, inclusive. Recognized as the all around champion cowgirl and trick rider of the world, Miss Sisty is one of a number of internationally known performers coming to Aberdeen for the big show next month.

Aberdeen Daily News

South Dakota
August 23, 1933

Feature Miss Alice Sisty of Mexico City in List of Cowgirl Riders

The greatest array of cowboy and cowgirl trick riders that have ever been gathered together at any one rodeo is promised for the Tri-State Fair, according to Milt Hinkle whose Texas Rangers Rodeo will be the only grandstand attraction each afternoon and evening, September 4-5-6-7.

Hinkle’s rodeos have always been famous for their novelty acts and the 1933 edition is no exception, according to declarations here.

This year under the leadership of Miss Alice Sisty of Mexico City, Mexico, the group includes dainty little cowgirls in colorful and picturesque costumes, beautiful trained steeds whose every move synchronizes with that of their fair riders.

Newspapers all over the country Friday carried a story of how Miss Claire Thompson, former world’s champion cowgirl, had broken her back at Sidney, Iowa, attempting the dangerous feat of going under her horses belly and up on the other side. The horse slipped and fell on Miss Thompson, breaking her spine in two places, it was learned.

It is this hazardous stunt that gave Miss Sisty her first bid to fame. Though bruised badly the several times she has fallen, she still insists that she will accomplish this feat at each and every performance of the rodeo at the Tri-State fair.

Pittsburgh Press

April 21, 1935

Champion Girl Won Fame On Reno to New York Ride
by Ruth Ayers

Champion Girl Won Fame On Reno to New York Ride

The original article has a picture of Alice posing with her chihuahua.

Her grandfather was a circuit riding parson, going up and down mountain trails of Pennsylvania on horseback to care for the scattered churches in his parish.

So Alice Sisty took naturally to a saddle – although the circuit she rides is for a rodeo instead of a church.

Five-foot-two and just a little this or that side of 105 pounds, Alice Sisty won high points in such events as bronc, trick, steer and relay riding on the tapering back of “Chapo,” her show horse. Anything might happen in a week – bad throws, broken bones, even death.

But is the circuit-riding parson’s granddaughter trembling in her size-four boots? Not at all. She won’t wear her new yellow outfit for the first performance because there’s a tradition that yellow brings bad luck for an opening show. Nor will she fling her ten-gallon hat on her bunk – because that’s bad sign, too.

Yet with due regard to these superstitions, she’ll ride and jump without getting a jitter.

“I guess you become pretty much of a fatalist in this work,” she said. “If anything happens, you always blame the horse or the rope or the hurdle.”

Alice Sisty doesn’t have one of those expected drawls in her voice. Cowgirl though she is from her bandanna handkerchief to fringed chaps, she isn’t a product of western spaces.

She is a native of Dunnellen, N.J. Her early life was spent there and in Florida. She was graduated from St. .Petersburg High School and next year, her trunks packed with sport clothes and college pennants, she left for State Teachers’ College in Gainesville. She was all set for a career as a teacher – studied for a year toward her degree.

Her parents had taken Alice Sisty to dude ranches in the West during vacations. The summer after her first year at normal school she became attached to Spot-Tail, a spotted steed with tapering legs.

She didn’t want to leave him in Nevada, so a plan evolved whereby she could keep the horse if she rode him from Reno to New York on a bet. Meanwhile, folks in Cheyenne heard about the trip and asked her to carry an invitation to Mayor Walker for the Frontier Day celebration.

The ride brought Alice Sisty into popularity and soon after she decided to become a rodeo rider and forget her teacher’s training. She’s been rodeoing in the seven years since.

Once in Atlanta, Ga., where she was doing a jump with a pair of horses, she slipped and was injured. But she made a quick recovery.

She doesn’t smoke – veers away from liquor as much as her granddad did when he was a gospel preacher.

A few years ago she was married to Milt Hinkle, head of the rodeo.

“Settle down?” she asks. “I should say not. I’m happily married but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be if I had to give up my saddle for a kitchen range and a washing machine.”


New Orleans
April 30, 1936

[In the ninth paragraph of an article about the Live Stock Show Winners to be sold at Auction:]

Features of the four day exhibition include a herd of Brahma cattle from Thibodaux, entered by the Robert Warriner farm, daily circus performances, with solo Roman-style riding with Miss Alice Sisty, and a commercial showing of meat and dairy products, feed and farm machinery.

Middletown Times Herald

Middletown, NY
September 8, 1936

by Glenn Perrins
Central Press Correspondent

Alice Sisty, “world champion cowgirl,” and widely known at rodeos, sees opportunities for women astride horses in the wide open spaces and at wild west events.

Alice Sisty

Not only is Miss Sisty, who is 36, a trick and fancy rider, but she is a top hand when it comes to riding broncs and steers.

She has an array tricks and stunts in her act, the outstanding feat being the jumping of two thoroughbreds in Roman style over an automobile. Her jumpers are Whale and Brownstone, and then she has Chappo, a highly intelligent horse, who responds to every command of her voice.

Miss Sisty is pictured wearing a Mexican costume, one of the many beautiful outfits in her wardrobe. She is so dark that when she appeared in Mexico she was booked as that nationality.

Her title of champion cowgirl was awarded her in 1932 at Madison Square Garden, New York City.

Springfield Republican

Springfield, MA
September 10, 1936

[An advertisement for the Eastern States Exposition included the following:]

"Reckless” Alice Sisty

See the world’s greatest trick rider, riding two famous Irish hunters, leap over automobiles, in her remarkable exhibition of horsemanship and daring.

Cowgirls at Chicago Stadium, Oct. 16 - Nov. 1, 1936

Alice Sisty is in the front row, 4th from the left (photo courtesy of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame).

Morning Star

Rockford, IL
June 22, 1938

Champ Cowgirl At Pecatonica Rodeo July 2-5

Champion cowgirl of the world the last six years, Miss Alice Sisty of Mexico City will be one of the internationally-famous riders appearing with the George V. Adams Rodeo company twice daily during the Fourth of July celebration at Pecatonia fairgrounds July 2-5.

Miss Sisty, who is only 5 feet tall and weighs only 92 pounds, won world championship riding honors annually from 1932 to 1937 in Mexico and successfully defended her titles against all comers in leading rodeos held in the United States.

She’s a great bucking horse and steer rider as well as a clever trick rider. Her jumping horses are famous for their performances at rodeos, horse shows and racing meets throughout America and Europe.

Northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin rodeo fans attending the Fourth of July celebration at Pecatonica will have an opportunity of witnessing Miss Sisty’s newest and most hazardous feat with two fiery race horses trained for jumping.

Starting at one end of the arena, Alice mounts and then stands upright with one foot on each horse. Driving the horses at breakneck speed standing up, she leaps them over an automobile.

On the 13th of January 1939 Alice Sisty and Milton D. Hinkle divorced in Pulaski County, Arkansas.

On the 13th of January 1939 Alice Sisty married Frank H. Griffin in Sebastian County, Arkansas. Alice was 33 and Frank was 28 years old. Frank was born on the 5th of February 1910 in Clarksville, Arkansas to Lawrence Griffin and Ethel Yearwood. Frank died on the 7th of March 1989 in Chochise County, Arizona.

Saturday Evening Post

Februray 17, 1940

You'll probably call this "High, Wide and Handsome," looking at petite Alice Sisty on her two black beauties, going way up and over. She's going to tell you how she does it...

Weighing only 110, this plucky brunette of 28 tells you, "I'm still alive, even if I fall about one jump out of ten. I need my feet free, so there's just a tab of felt where I stand with my right foot on Topper and the other on Jumping Jack. Their horseshoes each have three special caulks, and I just wear 'pro' tennis shoes. Almost the worst of it is to hold back my galloping thoroughbreds, as they go picking up speed for 150 feet. And 8 feet from the car - with my knees and ankles set for just the right 'spring' and balance - we go a-flying . . . Up-see daisee!"

The Minneapolis Star

July 16, 1941

By Catherine Quealy
Star Journal Staff Writer

Alice Sisty, Mexican trick rider.

That’s the way she’s billed at rodeos and horse shows all over the country.

Black haired, olive skinned, small, with snappy black eyes, she looks as if she came from south of the border.

For years she rode wild mares in Mexican bull rings and often took a turn around the ring on the bull just before the fight.

Actually, however, she’s one-eight Spanish, one-eighth French, the rest English, and she was born and brought up in New Jersey.

She’s also a Daughter of the America Revolution.

* * *

But she grew up on horses, she said today. Her Grandfather Sisty (the name is Spanish) was a Methodist minister and known as the “riding parson” in Pennsylvania.

Her maternal grandfather owned the first race track in New Jersey.

At each performance of the rodeo during the Aquatennial, Alice, astride two horses, JUMPS OVER A PARKED CAR FROM A RUNNING START. Her falls average about one in 10 tries.

As far as she knows, it’s the only act of its kind, and she’s the only girl ever to attempt it.

* * *

Last year at Salt Lake City, she broke her collar bone at the last performance, but had a 10 days’ layoff before her next engagement. She was ready.

Another time she broke a bone in her foot, but she taped it, and was ready for the next performance.

It’s the sort of job where you go on if you’re able to move, she said.

But she’s less nervous about the jumping act then she used to be when she worked as a jockey on the “bush” tracks.


Alice had a double reason for visiting the Plaza hotel beauty shop today. Not only did she want to get her own hair fixed, but she also wanted to consult with Marie Okonek, operator, about the henna rinse she uses on her white horse’s tail. She does the dyeing herself.

When not on the road, Alice and her husband, Frank Griffin live near Fort Smith, Ark.

A grim note, but she says she’s never thought of it that way - HE’S A PARTNER IN AN UNDERTAKING ESTABLISHMENT.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
August 25, 1941


Middlesex - Alice Sisty, the world’s highest paid cowgirl, plans to visit her parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. Walter Sisty, corner of Vogel Pl. and Bound Brook Rd., by Christmas, Miss Sisty’s parents have disclosed.

Miss Sisty is the only girl to do a “Roman Jump” over an automobile. She rides with one foot on the back of each horse, and has been putting on the same act for eight years. She perfected the jump after winning her spurs in Madison Square Garden, New York City, where she also won second place in wild broncho riding and third place in trick riding in the World’s Series Rodeo.

Receives Gift From Daughter

Last week Mr. Sisty received a present of a hat sent by his daughter from Ada, Okla. At this time she is presenting a show in Vinita, Okla., where she will remain until the end of the month when she is scheduled to appear in Paris, Tex., until Sept. 4. Miss Sisty expects to appear in Chicago sometime before her trip to the East Coast to visit her parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Sisty returned approximately three months ago from the west where they went to try and convince their daughter to retire. However, their efforts failed, and they returned to this borough and built a new home. They have come to the conclusion that Alice loves her work too much to give it up, and plan to content themselves with the knowledge that their daughter has a happy life, although an extremely dangerous one. The Sistys spent approximately two years in the West; Mrs. Sisty staying in Hot Springs, Ark., and Mr. Sisty touring the country with his daughter.

Dark-haired Alice, who weighs approximately 110 pounds, is always accompanied on her tours by her husband, Frank Griffin, a farmer from Little Rock, Ark. She also takes with her three horses, two jumpers and a trick horse, and a little white burro, used in street parades. “Chapo,” the trick-riding horse, has been with Alice now for six years.

One very humane habit of Alice’s which is often annoying to her parents is her practice of buying all the dogs and other animals she feels sorry for. When she finds she can’t keep them while traveling , she sends them to her parents. At present the Sistys are keeping two of Alice’s dogs, “Nynya” and “Mitzie.” At one time Alice also had a goat and a pig. Recently her great dane was stolen while she was on tour.

Began Career at 20

The former local girl who attended the Pierce and Watching Schools, this borough, and Bound Brook High School, started her career when she was 20 years old. Becoming attached to a horse while on the West Coast, she rode across country on horseback, creating quite a sensation.

When her father jokingly threatened to shoot the horse on her return here because the horse was rather vicious and liable to endanger the life of someone, Alice went to New Brunswick and sold the horse for $20 to Zake Miller of the 101 Ranch Show, who was then playing in New Brunswick.

Because Alice took the parting with her horse so to heart, Zake Miller offered her $25 a week to stay with his show and ride the horse in street parades. It was then that she learned trick riding. Since leaving Zake Miller’s show she has always operated independently, booking with what ever shows took her fancy.

Alice Sisty married Henning V. Sommer. Henning was born on the 2nd of February 1915 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Axel J. and Gerda Sommer. Henning died on the 12th of May 1963 in Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota.

The Los Angeles Times

April 2, 1943


Henning Sommer, 28, 9227 Venice Blvd., West Los Angeles, was accidentally shot in the left leg yesterday by his wife, Mrs. Alice Sommer, when she undertook to clean a shotgun in the back yard of their home.

The gun, which was believed to be unloaded, was discharged. He was treated at the Veterans Hospital at Sawtelle and returned home. His injuries were not serious.

Plain Dealer

Cleveland, OH
January 23, 1944

It’s “Ally-Oop!” as Alice Sisty, champion cowgirl in her own field, jumps her two horses over an automobile for a thrill.

She will perform this difficult feat in the combined wild-west rodeo, circus and “Hollywood Thrill Show” which starts its nine-day engagement at Public Hall Saturday. It will continue through Feb. 6, with Sunday matinees.


San Antonio, TX
October 12, 1944

La estrella hipica se llama Alice Sisty, y su especialidad es hacer difícil suertes ecuestres, pero en esta ocasión no se trata de eso, sino de un tumbo con todas las de la ley. El fotógrafo captó el momento que culminante del accidente, ocurrido en Fairfax, Vandalia, recientemente. La estrella sustentó heridas de consideración.

[Translation: The riding star is named Alice Sisty, and her specialty is difficult equestrian stunts, but on this occasion that's not the case, but a true fall. The photograph captures the culminating moment of the accident, which occurred in Fairfax, [Virginia], recently. The star sustained serious injuries.]

Marital History:
  • Eloped at age 17 in 1923 with Allan Zook.
  • Divorced Allan Zook in Reno in 1928.
  • Married Earl Sutton, Jr, “Peavine Slim,” in 1929.
  • Divorced Earl Sutton in March 1932.
  • Married Milt Hinkle, “The South American Kid,” on horseback in 1932 in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Divorced Milt Hinkle in January 1939.
  • Married Frank Griffin in January 1939.
  • Divorced Frank Griffin in ???
  • Married Henning V. Sommer in ???
On the 16th of December 1952 T. Walter Sisty, Alice M. Sisty’s father, died in Middlesex Borough, New Jersey.

Alice Sisty Sommer died on the 11th of September 1953 at Seaside Hospital in Crescent City, Del Norte County, California. The death certificate indicates that she was born on 12 January 1913 in Netcong, New Jersey, her mother’s maiden name was Laura Manning, born in New Jersey and her father’s name was Walter Sisty, born in Pennsylvania. She was married to Henning V. Sommer. She had been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver for 60 days with nephrosis as a contributing condition for 30 days. She had been living at 349 5th Street in Crescent City for 11 months. On September 14, 1953 Alice’s body was returned to Langhorne Methodist Churchyard, 138 North Bellevue Avenue, Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her grandparents, Mahlon Hicks Sisty and Annie C. Kesllings, are also interred in this cemetery.

The Courier-News

Bridgewater, NJ
September 12, 1953


Middlesex Borough - Mrs. Hennie (Alice Sisty) Sommer, who was at one time the world’s highest paid rodeo performer, a former resident of this community, died yesterday (Sept. 11, 1953) in Crescent City, Calif., where she has been residing. She had been ill for several months.

Born in Netcong, Dec. 12, 1906, the daughter of Walter and Laura Manning Sisty, she resided in this community and in Dunellen from the age of two to the age of 17.

Known as Alice Sisty, champion cowgirl performer, she was connected with several rodeos as a trainer of horses and trick rider and was the first woman to ride two horses and jump them over an automobile.

Survivors are Mrs. Laura Sisty, her mother, 108, Vogel Pl., and her husband, Hennie Sommer, Crescent City.

Services will be held at the Roeder Funeral Home, Crescent City, Monday at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be in the Methodist Episcopal Church Yard at Langhorne, Pa., at the convenience of the family.

Arrangements are in the charge of Runyon’s funeral home, Dunellen.

The Original Langhorne Methodist Episcopal Church

The cemetery is behind a house converted from the original church.
The gravestone reads:

Rev. Mahlon H. Sisty
born December 17, 1816 died February 7, 1906
And His Wife Anna C. Hellings 1838 - 1924
Rev. Walter T. Sisty died 12-16-52
Alice S. Sisty died 9-11-53

Memorable Quotes:
  • “Marry early and often is my motto” – Alice Sisty, 1928.
  • “Ride a horse 3000 miles and you’ll never wish for more happiness” – Alice Sisty, 1928.


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Last updated: Monday, 01-Apr-2019 11:48:24 MDT | Author: Ed Mashmann