Bill Picketts

David Hatton
Ms. Slone-Crumbie
English 101

12/05/1870- 04/02/1932
According to research at Black, William “Bill” Pickett was a black cowboy from Taylor, Texas, of black and Indian descent. Born December 5, 1870, in the Jenks-Branch community on the Travis county line in Texas, and died April 2, 1932, near Ponca City, Oklahoma. Pickett is credited for introducing “bull dogging” to the rodeo. He died from injuries sustained while working horses on the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma.
Pickett was the second of thirteen children born to Thomas Jefferson and Virginia Elizabeth Pickett, both of whom were former slaves. He began his cowboy career after completing only the fifth grade. By 1888, he and his family had moved to Taylor, Texas; the next two years would prove to be very productive for him. He and his brothers started a horse breaking business in Taylor, became a member of the national guard, a deacon of the local Baptist church, and in December of 1890, married Maggie Turner.
Bull dogging, as it became known, was a technique that Pickett mastered after watching dogs of the Bull Dog breed work. These “cow dogs” would bite the upper lips of the cattle to gain control. From 1905 to 1931, Pickett worked for the Miller brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show, where he would put on exhibitions of his bull dogging skills. During the show, Pickett would ride his horse, Spradley, up along the side of a longhorn steer. Once he got into position, he would then drop down off his horse and grab the steer by its head, twist it up toward the sky, and bite its upper lip to gain control over the steer.
Pickett gave performances in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, and England. He also became the first black cowboy movie star. If he had had the opportunity to compete with white rodeo contestants, he could have been one of the greatest record setters in the sport. To be able to compete in some of the rodeos, Pickett would have to claim he was as an...