Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

July 2, 2013

Top noodler has strong PV ties

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A Texas teenager proudly held her award winning catfish while on stage at last weekend’s big noodling event and at the time had no idea her family roots were tied directly to Pauls Valley.

Lucy Millsap is a 19-year-old from Quinlan, Texas, located east of Dallas, who landed the biggest fish, weighing in at a whopping 72 pounds, during the 14th annual noodling tournament again held in the heart of Pauls Valley.

It was only hours after landing the big prize Millsap learned her family’s history in PV goes way back. In fact, she still has plenty of relatives living in Pauls Valley right now.

“I was totally surprised,” Lucy said about her family connections to Pauls Valley.

“I was in shock,” she said. “I was out there showing off my fish and could very well have been showing it off for relatives in Pauls Valley and not even know it. I had no idea.”

Just one day after the teenager won noodling event here she learned about the connection when talking to her grandfather.

She found out his own father had been born here, plus she is related to a number of current PV residents — Susanne Stapp Blake and John Blake, Jeanne and Bill Menefee, Joe and Norma Menefee and Eddie and Sonja Menefee — plus a few others in Oklahoma City.

Ironically, Susanne Blake joined her husband and a number of others in attending part of the noodling tournament on June 22, which also featured Lucy’s father, Danny Millsap, claiming another of the top prizes with a catfish weighing more than 67 pounds.

She learned a girl had won the overall title by catching a 72-pound catfish.

“I remember thinking most people don’t think these cute girls do this,” Susanne said about Lucy.

The day after the event Susanne learned from an aunt that Lucy was actually their relative — a news flash that had come from Lucy’s grandfather.

“He asked her where the competition was,” Susanne said. “She told him Pauls Valley and he almost fell off his seat. He said to Lucy that’s part of her heritage.”

The grandfather explained his father had been born in Pauls Valley to Granville Stapp and Lizzy Menefee Stapp, according to Blake.

Lucy, who had no idea of her family’s Pauls Valley connection, was naturally “stunned.”

The next day Susanne got Lucy’s phone number through a relative and gave her a call. While leaving a voice mail message, she said it was a cousin from Pauls Valley.

“In the message I told her I think you’ll make Pauls Valley famous and you’ll be famous in Pauls Valley,” Susanne said with a big smile.

Minutes later the two hooked up on the phone.

“We talked about how surprised she was,” Blake said. “She said she couldn’t believe there were relatives right there where she was in Pauls Valley and she didn’t know it.

“I think it’s great how much attention Pauls Valley’s getting because of her.”

Another strange connection is Millsap also sees correspondence with the Pauls Valley name on it through her work with a property tax firm.

Lucy is now looking forward to getting together with her newfound relatives in a return trip to Pauls Valley.

“I think it will be awesome making that connection and hearing all the stories,” she said.

As for hand-fishing, Lucy has been noodling since she was 5 years old and absolutely loves everything about it.

“I love the sense of adventure, getting out there in nature,” Lucy said.

“The adrenaline rush is huge,” she said. “There so much anticipation waiting for it to latch on.

“It’s a cool sensation to be able to handle something that’s nearly as big as your own size.”