Was Mollie Burkhart a Real Osage Woman? What Happened to Her?

In ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ directed by Martin Scorsese, Mollie Burkhart finds herself in a deadly situation as her family members slowly die under mysterious circumstances. In the film, actress Lily Gladstone delivers a breakout performance as Mollie, as the latter is filled with dread as the Osage region spirals into chaos after a series of inexplicable murders rock the Native Americans. Since the film draws inspiration from real events and David Grann’s book of the same name, it is natural for viewers to be curious about the background of Mollie Burkhart. If you are wondering whether Mollie Burkhart is based on a real Osage woman and seek an explanation about her ultimate fate amidst the murder conspiracy, here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Is Mollie Burkhart Based on a Real Osage Woman?

Yes, Mollie Burkhart is based on a real person of the same name who was one of the members of the Osage Nation who suffered a great deal of tragedy and suffering during the “Reign of Terror,” a period between 1921 and 1926, when most of her family was killed. Mollie Ne-Kah-Es-Sey Cue Kyle, better known as Mollie Kyle or Mollie Burkhart, was born on December 1, 1886, on the Osage Indian Reservation in Osage, Oklahoma. She was the daughter of Ne-Kah-Es-Sey and James Cue Kyle and Lizzie Q. Kyle. Her father originally hailed from Kansas and married Lizzie Q. Kyle in 1874 after moving to Osage, Oklahoma.

Image Credit: Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Collection

Mollie had at least six sisters, and the family members were allotted “headrights,” which earned them financial benefits from the oil exploration and extraction activities at the Osage Indian Reservation. Mollie married Ernest George Burkhart in Pawnee, Oklahoma, on February 14, 1917. Burkhart originally hailed from Texas and was the nephew of William King Hale, a wealthy cattle rancher with political influence in Osage County, Oklahoma. Burkhart allegedly married Mollie at his uncle’s behest. Burkhart and Mollie had three children: a son and two daughters. The family primarily resided in the Fairfax Township of Osage, Oklahoma.

What Happened to Mollie Burkhart? How Did She Die?

Between 1921 and 1926, several of Mollie Burkhart’s family members were killed under mysterious circumstances. Her sister, Anna Brown, was found dead on May 22, 1921. Sometime later, Mollie’s mother, Lizzie, died from suspected poisoning on July 17, 1921, aged 72. Later, Mollie’s cousin, Henry Roan, her sister, Rita (sometimes spelled Reta) Smith, and the latter’s husband also died under suspicious circumstances over the next couple of years. Mollie had inherited the headrights from most of her deceased family members.

Image Credit: Corbis

After an unsatisfactory investigation of the deaths, the Osage Nation Tribal Council requested the Bureau of Investigation to investigate the matter. Eventually, the BOI arrested William King Hale on charges of murder. He was eventually convicted of killing Henry Roan following Burkhart’s testimony against his uncle. Hale’s full plan was suspected to involve the planned but not carried out murders of Mollie, Burkhart, and their children to inherit the family’s headrights and make a fortune from them. The idea is supported by the reports of Mollie experiencing symptoms of poisoning during the time of the other murders. However, she recovered and moved away after reportedly divorcing Burkhart. Mollie remarried, and John Cobb was her second husband, but the couple likely had no children.

According to reports, Mollie was diagnosed with diabetes and received regular insulin injections. However, it was later discovered that the injections were poisonous after Mollie’s health improved once she stopped taking them. Similarly, a local Catholic priest from the church Mollie regularly attended claimed that Mollie had expressed a fear of being poisoned through doses of whiskey at her home. Mollie reportedly spent her latter years in Gray Horse, an unincorporated community in Osage County. Meanwhile, her ex-husband, Ernest Burkhart, was pardoned in 1966 and eventually passed away in 1986.

Mollie Kyle Burkhart died on June 16, 1937, in Osage County, aged 50. However, the exact cause of death has not been mentioned. The Greyhorse Indian Village Cemetery in Osage County serves as her final resting place. By the time of Mollie’s death, Hale was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he was serving at the Leavenworth Penitentiary. Mollie’s children reportedly inherited her estate, and she has at least one granddaughter. Given her connection to the tragic Osage murders, Mollie Kyle is widely remembered as a survivor of the events that may have also resulted in the deaths of herself and her children.

Read More: All The Locations Where Killers of the Flower Moon Was Filmed