Pickett was born on December 5, 1870 in Williamson County,
Texas. He was one
of 13 children and his parents were former slaves. Bill completed 5 years of
primary schooling and then hired on as a ranch hand where he began to hone his
skills in roping and riding. Bill married in 1890 to Maggie Turner and was the
father of 9 children.
up in West Texas cattle country, Bill learned roping and
riding tricks at an
early age and he began to perform in town during
the weekends. Bill
began traveling with Lee Moore's Rodeo Show
around 1900. He was a rodeo star
until around 1916.
is credited with inventing the Rodeo event known as Bulldogging. He said that
he learned the method by watching the ranch dogs subdue cattle by biting them
on the lip. One day in 1903, Bill grabbed the horns of a bull to save
his horse from being gored. He wrestled the steer to the ground while biting
the steer's upper lip in a bulldog grip.
became one of the five standard rodeo events, but
later the rules were changed
to eliminate the lip biting and the event
was renamed "Steer
In 1907 he went to work for the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show
where he quickly became the star performer. He performed in
shows around the world and was the first Black Cowboy
retired from the rodeo circuit in 1916 and bought his own
helping out his old boss on the 101 Ranch in 1932,
Bill was kicked in the head
by a wild stallion and died 11 days
later on April 2, 1932.
was honored in 1971 by becoming the first Black Cowboy to
be inducted into the
National Cowboy and Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Bill Pickett is considered to be
one of the greatest Rodeo Riders
and Cowboys that ever lived.