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Los Angeles herald. [microfilm reel] (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1900-1911, March 13, 1910, Image 43

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1910-03-13/ed-1/seq-43/

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Oklahoma Half-Breed Cowboy
(ConTricht. IMS, hj Ihl Now York IkTalil Cu. All rlulil- r.•■■
It will coma as i surprise i" the people of this
country to learn thai an American Is the only man
in the history of i>u;i lighting who ever battled,
bare banded ntid unaided, with a Spanish bull)
thai the encounter took place before twanty«fl?e
thousand persons In the Mexico <'it.v arena; that n
outhern republics are still angrily discussing the
unprecedented event, and thai the native uewspaperi
published pnges In tcxl and pictures.
No sooner had i'.ni E'lckett, an Oklahomn balfbreed
<dv boy, performed i lie feal and been dragged to safety
from a fusillade of missiles burled by the enraged
Mexican onlookers than every outlet <<t uewi was
closed. Neither by r.^rii of mouth, by telegraph nor i>.v
mall was news per ail tied tn by carried outside of
Mexico tii.it .in American bad given a ilemonstratlon
<if nerve, courage, gtrenjfth and daring that bad !»■-
Jiltlcti the boasted prowess <•{ every professional
toreador and thai hla acblevomenl had nearly coal
him his life .'it ill" hands of the mob.
Bui in spite of .-ill the precaution!, bit by wi tho
story has sifted Into AniPffcn. H*re aud there :i pict
ure or a iiini of the mussing combai hn* appeared!
i > lll the full tale In all Its splendid borror never before
bai iiiTii iii'd exactly as li occurred.
The narrative la true In all Its details, if you sook
rorroboratlon I commend the paged of El [mparclal,
VA Diarlo, El Tleuipo, i;i Horaldo or any and all Mex
ican new s|i;i|hts up in Mini Including December -4.
]!hc.». a rid- thai date they give uo Inkling of the event
thai for dayi liad been their conspicuous sensation.
Or Interrogate the bull li^in devotee* even us far north
us the Juares or l«aredo arena*. They'll Dhaka their
lists and bIM their abomination of the aame of Plukett
and ;111 the natloual ihame it recalls, Question one of
the forty thousand American resident* of the City of
Mexico and the glorious memory of ii will momentarily
submerge even the omnipresent, nil pervading dread
of ■ revolution and Iti [wwlble consequences to the
colony. And ilni!"*< some emotion, for l don't believe
there's one of Lheru who hai neglected secret arrange
iph'uls for tale mid hurried tiijrht if the dreaded clash
of arms is beard.
Plrketl is a strapping cowboy, whoso mother win
h full blood Choctaw Indian and father a mixture of
the white, Indian nud African races, lie's commonly
known In the Southwest as "the duxky demon>" On
tUi Now Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma ranches they
never tire of the stories of his reckless daring with
wild horses and cuttle. Never has be failed to re
spond with grinning alacrity to the challenge of the
rough and ready Westerner who vowed he could
never subdue this man killing horse at wrestle and
throw thai murderous steer, (hire they p^ted him
al the HI l'aso fair agatlisl a furious elk, will] a Ire
ineiidoiis sweep of snaggy, bladsd horns and strong
enough in Its torefeel to have killed him with a
pluklc stroke Plckett threw the creature on its back
in less than tea minutes and emerged from the com
bat unscathed. Then the Southwest decided that
tin.' four footed herbivorous beast, who could beat tho
man in a stand up lljilit didn't exist, and it was with
this conviction thai we penetrated .Mexico.
Plckett's exhibition of daredeviltry with the tent
sliovv that had Invaded Mexico consisted of a mad
soamper, a-horse, in Chase of a Texas steer, a midair
leap from tho saddle of the galloping horse to tllS
horns of the still fleeing quarry and a struggle for
Supremacy Which inevitably ended in the overturning
of tho .steer. The feai is not an uncommon one at
prairie gatherings, but it. was new to the Mexicans, it
was tho only American achievement they had iVtf
soon that, had anything at all in common, oven vague
ly, with their own beloved bull fighting; one after
noon the bull fighters came in a body to watch. They
laughed contemptuously,
Joe .Miller, one of Ihreo brothers who own tho big
101 Banch of Oklahoma, happened to also own halt'
of tho ihOW. That night ho was at tho Cafe Colon,
the rendezvous of ihu bull fighters, announcing his
belief that for fun or money none of the fraternity
would dare perform the trick, liiciivonidu, famous for
liis eye and stroke, as cunningly dexterous and deadly
a matador as Spain or Mexico ever produced, accepted
the challenge, He would bo at the scene at ten o'clock
tho following morning and give the boasting Americana
a lesson in grace, courage and skin as applied to the
■Übjugatlon of the bovine »p«Cles. Sefior Louis F.
Correa, of the Mexican Herald, was the interpreter at
the IntervleWt and the details were duly chronicled the
next morning; In thai publication and in tho native con
Well, I.loiivenida didn't show up. No word of ex
planation or apology came from bun. Two score
guests walled and wondered. We despatched o
messenger to bis hotel. There lolled Bienvenida,
rather shame fined and languidly regretful that he had
been forhldden by the bull ring authorities under their
contract with him from risking his valuable bones and
bod) outsldo the national arena:
Los Angeles Sunday Herald
with an
BERE Is Told in Fall for the First Time,
the Story of "Bill" Pickeit's Life and
Death Straggle in a Mexican Arena, Bom
barded the While with Missiles Thrown by
Hostile Spectators c& o* o
The Bull Hcsitate'd for One Providential
Moment • • • It Saved Both Men
l if we'd only beea content with tin* moral triumph •
fur we were convinced thai Blenventda bad delibei I
jiicly ihowo tin ward's white feather and so im 1 >ii» ly
exprewied our exultation -the most exciting chapter In
Uia iiisin,-;: of tho Mexican i.vi! ring wonld never hare
been written. Hut Joe Miller's ulre knew bo bounds
nmi his Americanism vhs running rampant. To the
t ;if.; Colon be and Befior Correa hurried again, and the
dutnt'ounded bull fitrli'v;'* nod their assembled wor
shipper! heard Mini |>;-i>i>-.se to match Plrkett, bare
banded and unaided! against the moat blood hungry,
man bating, lighting bull the republic rould proylde.
Incidentally, I may mention that ho hadn't ever con
suited I'lckott in the matter!
The apparent superlative folly of the proposition
and why to the Mexican mind iis execution meant
tin' sure, Bpeedj ami sickening death of the luckless
man may not In' obvious to the American unfamiliar
with the bull rim; am' iis practices. I'U explain.
You sec. in the com but s as professionally provided
fur tin' entertainment of the public the i"iii fighter
relies upon his quickness of eye and fool. lie evades
the mad rushes of bis antagonist, never grapples.
The fighl has been described as a tragedy ill three
acts. The pleadores, mounted on worthless, blind
folded horses, first receive the Charges of the bull
with lances. Whenever n horse is wounded the rider
betakes himself to flight, ami when either this hap
pens or a picador is thrown the cluilos rush In and
attract tho animal from his prey by their red cloaks,
saving themselves, if need b( '. by leaping over the
palisade which encloses the arena.
When the bull has boon roused to frenzied fury by
the prodding! the plcadorea arc. repla i by the
ehulos. who bring with them the bMiidcrillas, barbed
darts which they drive into tho beast's shoulder.
Then the matador enters to complete III" tragic busi
ness. The bull is weak from loss of blood and be
wildered, but still tierce and active. In his right
hand this chief combatant holds a naked sword; in
his left the muleta, a stick with a piece of scarlet silk
attached. As soon us the bull's eyes catch the muleia
ho rushes blindly at it, the matador dodges nimbly.
dexterously plunges the sword into the spine and the
animal drops dead al his feel.
The bull fighters thus, you will understand, per
form their deadly work at a distance- from the four
footed foe. .Never would one of them dare to even
lay hands on a bull. They save their precious lives
by (heir remarkable agility in evudlug Hie animal's
furious assaults. Moreover, the brandished cloth,
I lie color of which the bull has been taught from in
fancy to delest. is the target of attack, :i"(. the man
who nourishes it and springs aside. A bill!, 100, closes
his eyes when ho charges. A steer doesn't. Few not
intimately familiar with bovine habits know this.
To return to Joe Miller and his cowboy, Plckett, the
gay Mexican capital was Immediately agog with the
story of (he audacious challenge. The bull fighters
laughed uproariously. The Mexican newspapers ami
the Mexican public demanded that (he Americans
make good. If Pickett wanted to uacriflee himself
upon the altar of American egotism let him do it. They
would turn out in force to witness the "fun.' they
promised, for human death in the bull ring affords
only hereditary amusement to the patrons of tin;
As for Plckett himself, no one was urging .Mr. Miller
more vigorously than ho to see tho thing through.
Sefior Rlve.ro, impresario of 101 Toreo, the big now
stool and concrete hull ring, promptly gavu permission
to hold the encounter there, and .Mr. Miller delegated
him to select the animal against which the cowboy
should be pttod. lie named Bonlto, a great, fierce, coal
black bull, who had once been loosed in the arena, who
had killed two men and half a dozen horses, and itho
had been spared Ihe death thrust upon the entreaties of
the spectators. So tierce and strong a bull, (hey cried,
Should not suffer an Inglorious death. The tribute
was ono paid not more than once or twice before or
since in the history of Mexican bull lighting. Bonlto
was returned to the COrralS, and there he remains to
this day, pawing the ground ceaselessly and bellow
ing his unabated longing to fight and kill.
This, then, was (he lamblike creature selected to
gore the American to death and fling the lifeless body
triumphantly in the air. a rare afternoon's entertain
ment, Mexico city agreed. Bienvenida accelerated
public anticipation by publishing over his signature ill
the newspapers "El eutlerro (\<- este Plcketi sera el
Begundo acto de este drama." whose free translation
Is, "Picker?! funeral will follow his foolhardlness."
Mow much effect the dire prediction had upon the
■■dusky demon" may be pained from tho fad dial we
persuaded him with difficulty from attending a dance
v \ d^^^^ ' . . *— ~~ L _ ffw j!mt H
Pickett Became
Quite as Busy
Dodging the
Shower of Mis
siles as Saving
Himself from the
Bull's Savage
Photograph Published in the
Mexican Record of Some of
the Deadly Litter Thrown at
the night before the battle which would have
kept hint awake until daybreak. Instead, we directed
his reluctant steps to the Hotel si. I'raneis and saw to
ii that he was securely locked in a room for the night.
The largest crowd ever assembled in 101 Toreo was
there to view the spectacle, figures showed an at
tendance of more than twenty-live thousand persons.
and probably not one hoped or expected that. I'ickelt
would leave the arena alive. Kvcry visitor to Mexico
knows that the native has no love for Americans.
Added to this pervading general hostility was the
knowledge that Plckett's successful accomplishment
of his hand to horn combat would shame the efforts
of every toreador. We American circus people, sev
eral hundred strong, escorted I'icUelt to the bull ling.
Sefior liivcro, impresario, and Sefiov Bravo, presi
dente, received us. Hoth were obviously apprehen
sive. They told us afterward that they had felt cer
tain (hat lMckelt would lose courage at the last mo
ment and refuse to chance his life, Hut the cowboy
was coolly confident and en gel' for the fray. Never
did man so Impress me with the virtue of physical
courage and a contempt of death.
Then, while the crowd was pouring into the enclos
uro, came (be staggering news that the Governor of
the federal district had forbidden the battle. A dele
gation of American women, residents or the city, had
waited upon him ml noon and protested in the name of
humanity, arguing that the outcome of the nffalr
would inevitably be the death of the brave but rash
Oklahotnan. They had earlier enlisted the inlluenco
and assistance of powerful American official! and bus
iness men, which the Governor could not resist, and ho
had grudgingly revoked the permission given with
alacrity several days before.
The bull ring managers, much relieved at their
escape from the awkward position in which they found
themselves, attempted to promptly announce the can
cellation ami dismiss the spectators, but Mr. mv-
lor, schooled and ready willed In dlro exigencies, would
Hot agree.
"The Governor hits forbidden Plckett to fight Bo
nito," ho affirmed quickly, "but .you have, other bull!
Just as savage. Picket! will meet any one of them
you pick."
A new license was In our hands before the non
plussed impresario and presidents could frame other
excuses, and while the well meaning American wom
en complacently congratulated themselves in their
homes preparations for the cruel struggle went on
As a substitute bull M. ilivoro stipulated Frljoll
Chlqulta (Little Beans), fully as Wild, wary nnd
Wicked a creature as Ronlto, and awaiting bin call to
combat In Ell l'orco stalls. The bull was bred on
the famous Tepoyahualeo grnnnderia. His short,
thick, powerful neck commended him to the expe
rienced Impresario oven move forcibly than Bonito, for
II would be upon the neck and horns that I'ickett
would exert his strength to throw the beast if ever ho
succeeded in gelLlug a hold.
Meanwhile an unfair advantage or us was doing
taken in the areua. A twenty fool board wi
played before the gaze of the partisan spectators
betirlug in Spanish this announcement: "Bj request
Hon Ito has been withdrawn and another bull substi*
luted." The Implication, of course, was that we
ii.nl made the requesl In fear of Bonlto's prowess.
The crowd howled Its rage and derision, which waa lit
uaged when we discovered the Imposition and
posted a second bulletin with the emphatic declaration
that by order of the authorities Bonito would not
appear, and that the bull ring impresario had selected
Iri.joli Chiqulta as quite as worthy a combatant,
We had planned to present our regular clrciii tour
nament us n preliminary to the flghl between mnn
nnfl lviii. inn the tremendous audience would not have
ii so. They demanded "El foroe fenomeno negro d<»
Oklahoma!" The mud lust for bull ring blood nml
battle, i'"iiio to them through generation*, was upon
them, Boon their attitude became menacing and wo
i >d.
a mob of twenty-five thousand freneled, hostlln
Mexicans, many of them Irresponsible peons, h riot ,-i
foj'ce to wittingly antagonise. We retired behind the
barriers and the "Qran Lucha Taurlna-Humana" was
There i* no doubt that Plckett had underestimated
the awful danger of his undertaking. His victories In
the American Bouthweut had made him overconfident
of his prowess. Ha had never even seen n Spanish
fighting bull, i am told, and in his mind had likened
the ii^ r bellowing monsters, quivering with life and
Ktrenffth and race, unto the vicious Te\as steel's which
he had so often conquered. PrlJoll Chlqulta'i size and
proclivities were as much like his bovine American
brothers' as ■ wildcat is like a chipmunk, And while
the cowboy wa> saddling bis borse and receiving from
n worthless suggestions as to tlio tnctirx to employ
hair a dozen Xi Toreo raqueroa were tormenting and
torturing the bull in the effort to arouso him to tbo
extreme pitch of man bating fury.
Plckott's entrance Into t iio enclosure received mln
jjled biases and cheers; then a wild tumult of acclaim
as n j::itp was thrown open and I'rijoli Chlqulta dashed
upon the scene, sighted Plcketl and made for him with
the power and speed i>f a runaway locomotive. The
man's face blanched momentarily; for the first time ho
fully realised the peril of his iios',tiou and the over-
wbeltulug mills ngaluiit him in a light toe life with this
bovliiu demon, but every nerve wus steady, every
muscle ready and all the consummate craft and cun
ning of his calling sliminniu'd as ho awaited the Irre
sistible out la light. i Nor lens prepared was Spradley,
the wary COW pony ho bestrode, learned by long, stern
experience on yie prairies to huow the moods and
moves of cattle as a shepherd dog knows his sheep.
I Never before had such a terrifying thing hurled itself
toward Spradley, but the shock of It didn't bewilder
Like a Hash In dodged and Implanted his hind li""f*
wiili all his strength l'n 11 mi the charging bull's side.
Jiiidi rushed the hull, not at all disconcerted, and the
attack was too suddenly renewed for defence or eva
sion. The cruel, needle pointed horns penetrated the
helpless horse's shoulder. As they withdrew, blood
covered, Plckett leaped between them to the bull's
head and clasped his arms around the neck.
This was tin; expected moment that had drawn
twenty-five thousand Mexicans to El Toreo that after
noon. Bxperta liad conceded that the wonderfully
lithe ami agile American might, perhaps, secure a hold
dii the bull, but never, they declared, could he main
tain that bold for half a minute. One toss of the pow
erful head would dislodge him and then ilie end would
be a mutter of seconds, as be lay prostrate and ex
It looked to me as if every man, woman and child
was on his or her feet, straining (or a clear view of the
jvivwsomc spectacle the Mexican mind had fondly pic
uired. Not a sound they uttered, but a concentrated
paean of wild exultation was waiting on their lips.
Hut down in the arena the Unexpected—no, the
supposedly Impossible was happening. The dreaded
bull was frantically tossing his bead with all bis great
strength, bellowing bis rage and bewilderment,
pirouetting In dluy circles, and there still dangled
Plckett, his bearlike liua; unshaken and ho clinging
Ilka !i. burr. Never before had such disrepute been
casl upon the nublo sport of bull fighting. How Infan
tile the strength, how clumsy the skill, how feeble the
courage, of the adored toreadors in comparison with
the exhibition being given by this luted stronger from
the north! A shout of anger at the Ignominious sight
swept i! igh the seats and some one cried In Bpan
isli: "Uoniemher Blenvenlda's words, Plckett's fu
neral will follow foolhardlness!" And then imnde
nionium broke t
Plekett was meanwhile civlng a continuous nnrt
convincing demonstration (hat Frljoll Chlquita had
met his human match. Not only could the bull not
toss or trample or otherwise harm his antagonist, but
the cowboy actually bad the beast tottering on his
fed. The haughty, shaggy bend was aslant under
the force exerted upon the horns by the swinging
man. The hold was Plckett's favorite and never be
fore bad four footed creature withstood it.
Whether Frljoll Chlquita Mould have been ridded
as -,\ historic victim of the Oklahoma man's prowew
will ever remain a moot question. A chair cushion,
thrown with accurate aim nnd Judgment) struck him
full in (hi' face. A great chorus of approval and a,fusil
lade of the canvas missiles followed. Pickett became
quite as busy dodging the shower as saving himself
from the bull's savage evolutions.
Tlio some one shied .1 stone, it hit the luckless, be
selged niiiii on the ctieek and drew a stream of blood,
ii seemed then ri ir every person In the seats became
» participator In tlio ensuing shameful proceedings.
Fruit, bottles, canes, and even opened knives fell upon
tlio brave cowboy who was battling tor his life, single
banded, with that blond hungry bull. Not one person
in tlial (Treat hostile throng lifted hand or voice In pro
test or defence. I am nol exaggerating. The arena waa
bedded with weapons. The Mexican Record, next day,
published a photograph of the deadly liner, and even
the Instantaneous picture In El Imparclal, the govern
ment organ) plainly showed the missiles on their
You can imagine (lie helpless wrath of us handful of
Americans. We appealed frantically to the police.
They laughed in our faces. Plckettfs cowboy friends
pleaded with Mr. Miller for permission to retaliate
with American cartridges, but the ranchman forbade,
lie and the wiser beads knew one wholesale exterm
-1 nation would have followed. Our lints were recking
with expectorations from the mouths of the human
brutes over our beads above the barrier. I'ickett was
no longer on the offensive and weakening fast. it
seemed Inevitable that bis funeral would take place
In Mexico, after all, as nienvenlda had promised.
Once his hold relaxed the furious foe would have him
at his mercy and gore him to death.
hi all that awful bedlam Joe Miller nlor.e kept his
wits. lie realised that sooner or later Pickett would
bo desperately wounded by a missile and that his end
would come with shuddering suddenness unless some
succoring expedient was devised by his friends. Sum
woning Vester Pegg, a cowboy, the ranchman com
manded: —
•■Strip off your rod shirt!"
"Now, when Plckett drops, you leap Into the en
closure, wave your garment as close to the bull as
you dan approach, and see If you can save your com
rade's life!"
Our watches showed that Plckett, perched pre
cariously ou tho bull's head, had withstood the storm
of missiles for exactly seven minutes and a ualf
when Ui' 1 dreaded moment came. a bottle lilt him
with a thud full in the side. Ho groaned In sudden
pain, gasped for breath, cast ■ last Imploring,
agonized look nt us, his long time friends, and loosed
the Iron clasp which had defied Ik« fury of as fierce
and strong a bull as ever pawed the earth of El Toreo.
Krljoli Übiquity, the incarnation of brute ferocity,
relieved of the maddening burden, lowered his horns
for the death thrusts. Plckett lay ■ limp and writh
ing form almost under the animal's nose. The Mexi
cans yelled their joy.
Over the barrier al one bound hurdled • half naked
ngure. The bull glimpsed if even more quickly than
ihe astonished and dismayed human audience, for the
hated color red was being brandished almost In I'rijoli
Cblqulta's face. Veeter Pegg was obeying orders in
iin' desperate emergency with baaardoua implicit?*
The bull hesitated for oik- providential moment wheth
er to turn upon the insolent newcomer or to vent hid
vengeance upon hla helpless and fallen adversary.
Hhorl .is whs the respite it saved both men. Plckett
utnggcred to liis feet, scrambled groggily to the barri
cade and our outstretched hands dragged him to
safety. Pegg retreated precipitately and beat tho bull
to succor bj h foot. Frljoll Ohlqulta, doubly robbed of
prey, bellowed his impotent rage and hatred to an
empty arena,
So ended the only struggle of Its kind Unit ever has
or probably aver will take place. The tumult over the
unexpected deliverance was, of course, appalling. jWe
ionic refugo behind Iron gates Id one corner of El
I'oreo and remained concealed for two hours. Tim
Governor then sent two hundred mounted soldiers
to i lie scene. They dispersed the more violent of the
spectators Who remained, threatening our safety, and
escorted us back to our tents. There were small dem
onstrations against us that night at our quarters on
the I'aseo de la Itefornia, but in twenty-four hours the
hotheads had cooled. The feeling n gainst l'lckett
personally remained bitter, however, and he did not
again make public appearance.
Wo folded our tents and left for America three clays
later. Mr. Miller publicly offered $10,000 to any
toreador who would dare try to duplicate Plckett's ex
ploit, a great silence fell upon the fellows of the
craft, one and all. All Mexico, we bad the patriotic
satisfaction of contemplating, could not put forward
n man so Intrepidly bray* as this dusky Oklahoma
half breed gladiator.
Plckett has always Insisted that Ik^ rfouid finally
bars conquered Frljoll Chlqulta had be r «* • i been mo
lested, it. was a month before he fully recovered from
the effects of his awful experience. Then he bought
a quarter section of land eight nftlle* from Obandler,
Oklahoma, where he still remains, a modest, and GOD-
Unted rancher. The pet of bis COTTals is ihe faithful
war horse Spradley, a great s<nr on his shoulder Ilia
only reminder of his Mexican adventure.

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