BILL PICKETT Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


Biography » craftmen artisans and people from other occupations » bill pickett


Name: Bill Pickett                                                                   
Born: 5 December 1870                                                                 
Died: 2 April 1932                                                                   
Willie M. "Bill" Pickett (December 5, 1870 - April 2, 1932) was a cowboy and         
rodeo performer.                                                                     
Pickett was born in the Jenks-Branch community of Travis County, Texas. He was       
the second of 13 children born to Thomas Jefferson Pickett, a former slave, and       
Mary "Janie" Gilbert. The family's ancestry was black, white and Cherokee Native     
Pickett attended school through the fifth grade, after which he took up ranching     
work. He invented the technique of bulldogging, the skill of grabbing cattle by       
the horns and wrestling them to the ground. Pickett's method for bulldogging was     
biting a cow on the lip and then falling backwards. This method eventually lost       
popularity as the sport morphed into the steer wrestling that is practiced in         
rodeos today.                                                                         
In 1890 Pickett married Maggie Turner, a former slave and daughter to a white         
southern plantation owner. The couple had nine children. Pickett and his             
brothers started their own company, the Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and           
Rough Riders Association, to offer their services as cowboys. Pickett also made       
a living demonstrating his bulldogging skills and other stunts at county fairs.       
In 1905, Pickett joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show that featured the likes of       
Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Bee Ho Gray, and Zach and Lucille Mulhall.       
Pickett was a popular performer who toured around the world and appeared in           
early motion pictures. Pickett was shown in a movie created by Richard E. Norman.     
Pickett's ethnicity resulted in him not being able to appear at many rodeos. He       
often was forced to claim that he was of Comanche heritage in order to perform.       
Pickett continued to work his entire life. He also served as deacon of Taylor         
Baptist Church. In 1932, he was kicked in the head by a horse while working           
horses at the 101 Ranch and died of his injuries a few days later, at the age of     
61. Will Rogers announced his funeral on the radio.                                   
Pickett was named to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971 and was the first       
black honoree to that organization. He was enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of         
Fame in 1989.