ESPER Home Page About ESPER ESPER Organization Membership Page Reflections Newsletter Black Heritage Stamp Issues African Americans on US Stamps African American Themed Stamps World-Wide Issues All About Stamp Collecting Stamp Collecting Terms Current Events Related Links Bulletin Board






Bill Pickett -Legends of the West
Scott # 2869g
Issued on October 18, 1994 in
Tucson, AZ; Laramie, WY; and Lawton, OK
Design by Mark Hess

Hand Painted Cachet by Julian Pugh

 The U.S. Post Office did not do it's homework when producing the original Legends of the West Sheet of 20 stamps. They copied the wrong photograph and instead of Bill Pickett the stamp depicted his brother Ben Pickett, (stamp on the left). The stamps were recalled but some had already been sold and were worth several thousand dollars. The Post Office then issued 150,000 of the error sheets to recipients selected by lottery thus lowering the value. However, the error sheets still bring about $175 to $275 on the market today and you can buy the full pane of 20 stamps on a First Day cover for about $20 to $25.

Bill 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.

Growing 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. 

Bill 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.

"Bulldogging" 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 Wrestling."

In 1907 he went to work for the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show  
where he quickly became the star performer.  He performed in 
rodeos and shows around the world and was the first Black Cowboy 
movie star.

Bill retired from the rodeo circuit in 1916 and bought his own 
ranch. While 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.

Bill 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.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia Africana



Copyright 2002 all rights reserved by ESPER
a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization