“…Mr. Asher nearly cries every time I win.” [Said by Blanche when asked if her races with Frank Asher are fixed.]
Lemuel M. “Lem” Hunter was born to Lemuel M., Sr. and Elizabeth Hunter 1873 in Illinois. An early achievement of Lem was his ride in a cattle drive across the State of Kansas. Blanche McKenney Hunter was born in Illinois in 1863 to Mr. and Mrs. A.C. McKenney, Sr. When she was an infant her family moved to Haddam, Kansas. Soon, she was in the saddle and it was nothing for her to ride 100 on the plains of Kansas and Nebraska. In 1896, Blanche McKenney gained fame when she won the gold medal in Pittsburgh, PA. Here, she rode the 20 mile relay race changing horses 19 times and leading her nearest opponent by one-quarter mile with a time of 38 minutes 52 seconds. This set a record which stood for many years. Blanche, Annie Oakley, and two others were the only four women who had acts in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West in 1898. While employed by Cody, she met Lem who was part of Cody’s “Rough Bunch” of 16 men who rode broncos who were pitted against any other 16 men picked by the “world.” Lem and Blanche both used “high school” horses for Col. Cody. High school is a style of balance and jumping most commonly performed by Lipizzaner and Andalusian horses. In 1899, Lem and Blanche married and formed their own company the “The Blanche McKenney-Hunter Racing Combination.” Blanche performed “chariot races” against an opponent, usually Frank Asher, at fairs for the Hunter’s company. In these races the riders stood on the back of two or three horses. Lem’s professional riding career had ended when he was injured while riding in Cody’s show. Lem died in 1929, but Blanche continued performing until 1939. She died in 1958. Lem and Blanche McKenney Hunter are buried in Haddam Cemetery.