Blog: The story of two cowgirls

The Head Cowgirl - Marilyn Lysohir

Head Cowgirl Marilyn Lysohir founded Cowgirl Chocolates in 1997. Her two favorite things in the world are art (she has a notable career as a ceramic sculptor) and chocolate. In fact her first job was working in a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. Marilyn mingled some favorite memories with some new ideas to create an American original, Cowgirl Chocolates...chocolates with a spicy cowgirl kick. She was the pioneer, one of the first companies to offer spicy chocolates in the world.

Cowgirl Chocolates has won a total of 19 product awards and 2 packaging awards and is located in Moscow, Idaho USA. It has also been featured on the Food Network on “Unwrapped” and “Extreme Cuisine” and on CNBC “On the Money”. They have also been written up in the New York Times, InStyle, the Toronto Star among others.

Visit Marilyn Lysohir’s web site at :

Visit another art related project of Marilyn’s. High Ground, a unique fine arts magazine produced in limited editions:

And if you are having a Bad Day that Chocolate can’t fix, visit Marilyn’s sister’s website:

The Original Cowgirl - May Lillie

Born a physicians daughter in Philadelphia in the late 1800's, May Manning left society life in Philadelphia at age 14 to marry Major Gordon "Pawnee Bill" Lillie.

It all came about when in 1883 Gordon Lillie was assigned by the Indian Commissioner to take charge of the Pawnees who had been hired to appear in The Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show. The show was a sell-out success all across the country with its cowboys, Indians, trick riders, marksmen, wild steers, buffalo, and stagecoach pursuit. When the show hit Philadelphia, love hit Gordon Lillie in the form of a city bred, Smith College girl named May Manning. At the end of the show season, Gordon returned to the cattle ranch he now owned in Medicine Lodge Kansas, while he and May kept a steady flow of letters going between them...”

“The next season Gordon/Pawnee Bill took his Pawnee Indians back on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West tour and when the show hit Philadelphia again, he proposed to May. Against her socially prominent mother’s wishes, May agreed to be his bride...”

Major Lillie took her to Kansas where the Pawnees taught her to ride and shoot. In time, the Lillies created Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show and May Lillie toured with the show, billed as "Miss May Lillie, Champion Lady Horse-back Shot of the World." A year later their six week old son died and complications prevented May from having any more children. From that day on, she threw herself into learning how to ride, rope, and shoot like a real cowgirl. Riding side saddle on a running horse, she became a sensational marksman...when Pawnee Bill’s Wild West show hit the road in the spring of 1888. It starred May Lillie, Trapper Tom, brother Al Lillie, Indians from five different tribes, 165 people, 165 animals, and Pawnee Bill himself...”

“In 1908 Pawnee Bill unexpectedly bought out the James Bailey interest in the Buffalo Bill Wild West. From that point on May Lillie refused to ever appear with ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Great Far East,” as it was now called. She felt it was a huge mistake to take such a gamble when their own show was doing so well by itself...”

“However between oil, banking, and real estate, Pawnee Bill and May were secure for the rest of their lives. Their ranch became a gathering spot for famous people from around the world and Pawnee Bill now became active in many civic and charitable organizations. He and May finally found time for a child and adopted a baby boy in 1916. However Billie was killed in an accident on the ranch when he was only nine years old.

By 1930 Lillie had pioneered the construction nearby of Old Town, and an Indian trading post in an effort to retain some of the flavor of the old west and Gordon W. Lillie alias "Pawnee Bill" and his wife May had one of the biggest buffalo ranches in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Pawnee Bill and May Lillie celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at a special celebration in their honor in Taos, New Mexico, in August of 1936. Two weeks later May was fatally injured in an auto accident while Pawnee Bill was driving home from Tulsa and she died September 14 of that year. Major Gordon W. Lillie/Pawnee Bill lived another active but peaceful six years on the ranch until his death on Feb. 3, 1942 at age 82.