Berenice Blair Dossey Bolen (1913-1974)
Berenice Blair Dossey Bolen is a 1999 Inductee to the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame in the Participant Category. Born and raised in Ellensburg, she became a professional trick rider in 1935, achieving great acclaim during a twenty-year rodeo career. Berenice always loved performing in the Ellensburg Rodeo arena, which featured her daring feats for ten years from 1935 to 1945.
Evelyn Blair was born
Freda's brother Earl Smith had horses and as a little girl, Berenice loved to ride with him on her special horse, Prince. At age 16 Berenice married Jim Hailey. They had a son, Jim, Jr., who became a bulldogger and bareback rider who contested in Ellensburg.
Berenice left Ellensburg and her marriage to follow her desire to become a professional
trick rider. In her travels she met Hank Durnell, a trick rider and roper and
Berenice returned to Ellensburg as a trick
rider in the 1935 and 1936 rodeos. She went on to become one of America's most
beautiful and talented rodeo cowgirls, famed for her hippodrome stand, cossack
drag, going under the belly and neck of her horse, and other tricks. Berenice
worked rodeos from coast to coast in
In 1937 Berenice returned to Ellensburg and married Bates Taylor who also learned to trick ride. They bought and trained talented horses, a favorite sorrel they called Tony (with a white strip on his face) and, later, a bald-faced, dark, blood bay horse with white stockings called Sundee.
Berenice was talented in leather craft, and she designed and sewed her own trick riding outfits; color was very important to her. She could sew anything, even a wedding dress, without a pattern.
She continued to appear in the Ellensburg Rodeo from 1937-1939. At rodeos across the continent, Berenice was a star attraction, due to her personal beauty, flair for showmanship, brilliant precision work, her captivating personality, not to mention her loyalty to her friends.
Berenice married Carl Dossey, an Arizonan who became World Champion Bareback
Rider in 1940 and, later, a successful rodeo judge known for his honesty and
fairness. They managed a tavern for Harry Knight (then a champion bronc rider)
worked the Ellensburg Rodeo in 1941, 1945-1948, and 1950. She seriously injured
her back in a
later married Frank
Berenice devoted her later years to her family. She never lost her love of sitting at home and singing the French songs her dad and Aunt Lena taught her. She had a lovely singing voice. In January 1974, Berenice Blair Dossey Bolen was diagnosed with breast cancer and by September of the same year she was gone---but not forgotten.