Margaret Clark Formby

Is your surname Formby?

Research the Formby family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Margaret Dell Formby (Clark)

Death: April 10, 2003 (73)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Fred W. Clark and Mabel D. Clark
Wife of John Clinton "Clint" Formby

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Margaret Clark Formby

Margaret Clark Formby (July 12, 1929 – April 10, 2003) was an American educator best known as the founder of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.


Margaret Formby, a rancher's daughter whose collection of cowgirl costumes, stored in the basement of a local library, evolved into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, died on April 10, 2003 at her home in Hereford, Tex. She was 73.

She apparently hit her head in a fall in her bathroom, where her housekeeper found her, The Associated Press reported.

The hall of fame opened in a $21 million building in Fort Worth last year. But it began in 1975 with an even longer name, the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, and not much else.

The Chamber of Commerce of Hereford had begun a rodeo for women. The festivities included honoring famous cowgirls, and Mrs. Formby had a luncheon for them.

The first woman inducted was Alice Greenough Orr, billed as Queen of the Rodeo. A Montana cowgirl, Ms. Orr won three national rodeo championships in the 1930's and 40's. She rode fighting bulls in Spain, taught Dale Evans how to ride and performed movie stunts into her 80's.

Stories like Ms. Orr's prompted Mrs. Formby to begin collecting cowgirl artifacts. Deeply interested in rodeo, Mrs. Formby was the first woman elected to the Texas Tech Rodeo Hall of Fame. She was also an English and speech teacher.

I was finding out how much of the old cowgirls was lost, she said in an interview with The Dallas Observer in 1996.

So for six years she nurtured an exhibit in the Deaf Smith County Library. Then a Hereford couple donated their 6,000-square-foot house to hold the collection, which had expanded from bandannas and a few pistols to treasures like the red, white and blue rhinestone hat owned by an early Western music star, Patsy Montana, a yodeler whose recording of I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart sold a million copies.

Mrs. Formby was so enthusiastic about the project that she did not realize the difficulties she faced.

Visitors were few. We'd go for stretches, where for days on end, nobody would come, Mrs. Formby said in an interview with The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2002.

Money was scarce. Concerts, bake sales and renting the museum for social occasions did not raise enough. Licensing the name Cowgirl Hall of Fame to a Manhattan restaurant brought more honor than honorarium.

But Mrs. Formby kept adding to the little museum.

Her husband, Clint Formby, who owns the local country radio station, survives her, as do her sons Chip of Hereford, Marshall of Lubbock and Scott of Manhattan; her daughter, Mary Beth Powell of Hereford; and four grandchildren.

Mrs. Formby had to face a geographic truth: the hall of fame was a great idea but in the wrong place. So she and her board asked other cities if they were interested in having it. Thirty-five cities in six states responded. Fort Worth was chosen.

But as new people, many of them Fort Worth socialites, took over the museum, Mrs. Formby's role declined.

It's kind of like having a child and having to give that child up, she said in the Chronicle interview. It's sad.

view all

Margaret Clark Formby's Timeline

July 12, 1929
April 10, 2003
Age 73