About Bill Pickett Room

The cowboys were black, white, brown, and red. They ate the same food; slept on the same ground; performed the same jobs; and were subjected to the same dangers. Such an individual was Bill Pickett. Born near Taylor, Texas in 1870, and called the “Greatest Cowboy” of his day, Bill left school in the 5th grade to become a ranch hand. He soon began riding horses, and wrangling the long horn steers of his native Texas. It was known among cattlemen that with the help of a trained bulldog, a stray steer could be caught. The bulldog would rescue the steer by using a strong grip with its teeth perched into the sensitive nerves of the steer’s upper nose and lip. Bill Pickett saw this happen on many occasions and practiced wrestling the steer to the ground, then bite and hold the steer’s sensitive nose and lip – until the steer was still. Pickett became known for these tricks and stunts at local country fairs, and with his four brothers established The Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association. The name Bill Pickett soon became synonymous with successful rodeos. He did his Bull-Dogging act from Texas, to Wyoming. In 1887, Pickett worked one tour with William F. Cody’s Wild West show in England. In 1905, he joined the 101 Wild West Shows as they traveled across the U.S., Canada, and South America. And from January to November of 1916, Pickett again rode for Buffalo Bill Cody. Tens of thousands of fans turned out for performances that year, including Theodore Roosevelt and Will Rogers. In 1921, Pickett appeared in the film “the Bull-Dogger”. In 1932, while still active in Wild West Shows, Bill Pickett was killed when he was kicked in the head by a wild bronco. Said Joe Miller, “Bill Pickett was the greatest sweat-and-dirt cowhand that ever lived, bar none.” In 1971, Bill Pickett became the first black honoree to be inducted into the National Cowboy Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. In 1989, he was also enshrined in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame at Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1994, the United States Post Office issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor.

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