Bill Pickett

cowboy, rodeo star
Born: (probably) 12/5/1870
Birthplace: Williamson County, Tex.

After quitting school in the fifth grade, Pickett became a full-time ranch hand and developed into a skilled horseman. He invented a method of wrestling bulls called “bulldogging.” He would jump on the steer's back, twist its horns, and bite its upper lip in the manner of a cattle dog. Pickett began performing at county fairs, carnivals, and rodeos. In 1907 he joined the Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch Wild West Show in Oklahoma. Called “The Dusky Demon,” Pickett toured through the United States, Canada, and Europe, where he performed for England's King George V and Queen Mary. Because African Americans were often barred from performing in rodeos, he was frequently introduced as a Mexican or Native American. Although he partially retired after 1916, Pickett continued to work as a cowboy and showman until he died after being kicked in the head by a horse. In 1971 Pickett was the first African American inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and in 1994 a commemorative postage stamp was issued in his honor.

Died: 4/2/1932