Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Madsen submitted the proposal to the court to place a bronze, life-sized statue of Willie M. “Bill” Pickett, a cowboy who grew up in Taylor, at the Williamson County Expo Center in Taylor. A concept drawing shows Pickett sitting on his horse, Spradley.
According to the Williamson County Historical Commission, Pickett was born to former slaves in 1870. He is best known for inventing “bulldogging,” or the act of biting the upper lip of steers to subdue them, a trick he picked up on by watching herding dogs handle cattle.
Gerald Anderson, a relative of Pickett, is working with local sculpture artist and Taylor resident Adam Davenport to create the statue. According to county documents, Anderson and others will work to obtain donations and funds to create the statue.
Statues can be a touchy subject in Williamson County: In November commissioners voted against a proposal to place an explanatory plaque on a county monument to Confederate soldiers. The plaque would have provided context and information about the Civil War and how the Confederate loss led to the emancipation of millions. The language in the agenda item approved Tuesday specifically referred to Pickett as “African-American Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Cowboy ‘Bill Pickett.’”
Pickett performed in rodeos all over the country and traveled to Canada, Mexico and England to do shows. As an African-American, Pickett could not compete against whites in rodeo competitions and would often be billed as a Native American or remain unidentified to be able to complete, according to Williamson County Historical Commission records.
After retiring and settling down with his family, Pickett died in 1932. He is honored in the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, and in the Pro-rodeo Hall of fame and Museum of the American Cowboy at Colorado Springs, Colorado.