Bill Pickett was a famous cowboy, rodeo star and Wild West show performer. He was also the father of nine children. A pioneer in the sport of rodeo, he left school in 5th grade to become a ranch hand and later invented a cattle wrestling technique called "bulldogging." Pickett would ride hard at a steer, fly of his horse, grab the steer by the horns and wrestle it to the ground often biting it on the lip and falling backwards.
He soon became associated with successful rodeos and his tricks and stunts became known throughout the area as he traveled to perform. Pickett joined the 101 Ranch Wild West show in 1905 and moved to Oklahoma in 1908. The 101 Ranch also featured Tom Mix, Buffalo Bill and Will Rogers. He claimed both African American and Cherokee heritage. After years of touring and becoming the first African American cowboy movie star, he eventually retired.
He was near Ponca City roping horses in a rodeo in 1932 when tragedy struck. Bill Pickett was kicked in the head by a bronco and passed away 11 days later due to head trauma. He is buried at the Cowboy Hill Cemetery near the White Eagle Monument to the north of Marland. He was the first African American cowboy to be inducted into the National Cowboy & Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1971.