Henry Clay McGonagill

Henry Clay McGonagill was born on September 24, 1879 to George M. McGonagill (1841 – 1921) and Narcissa Josephine “Grandma” Haynes McGonagill (1839 – 1935) in Sweet Home, Texas. George was born in Oxford, Mississippi in 1841. By the time he was nineteen, his family had moved to Lavaca County, Texas where George was working on his father’s farm. George then served in the Civil War after which he returned to Texas. By 1870, he had married Narcissa and two of their children were born. Narcissa had been born in Tennessee. At the time the 1870 federal census was taken, George was working on his own stock farm. By 1880 their family was complete. They had six children that lived to adulthood, of which Clay was the youngest, and they were still residing in Lavaca County. By 1900, they had moved to West Texas and were living in Midland. Sometime within the next ten years, they had moved to what was then Eddy County in the New Mexico Territory where George was raising horses.

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Margaret Owens

Margaret Elizabeth Owens was the oldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson Owens (1896 – 1967) and Mary Ella Bolt Owens (1894 – 1998). Margaret was born March 28, 1922 in San Angelo, Tom Green County, Texas. Margaret was joined by a sister, Lottie Jo “Sug” Owens (1926 – 2012), some four years later.

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Booger Red

Booger Red was the nickname given to Samuel T. Privett (1864 – 1924). Privett was a well known bronc rider in his day. A newspaper clipping from the Whitewright Sun of September 26, 1946 refers to a five page article by Tom Mulvaney called “Booger Red’s Last Ride” in a 1944 issue of the Southwest Review about the old cowboy.

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Bill Pickett

Bill Pickett was born to Thomas Jefferson and Mary Gilbert Pickett in Jenks-Branch, Williamson County, Texas in 1870, one of 13 children.  His heritage was African-American and Cherokee.  He is credited for having invented the method of steer wrestling commonly called “bulldogging.”  For this, his showmanship and his other skills he became the first person of African-American descent to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, among his other honors.

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Texas Prison Rodeo

The Texas Prison Rodeo (earlier known as the Huntsville Prison Rodeo) was an event that Texans looked forward to for many years.  It began in 1931 when  Marshall Lee Simmons, then serving as general manager of the Texas Prison System, conceived of it as a means for the prisoners to have recreation and as entertainment for the prison employees and their families but it quickly grew to a ticketed event that would play to a full grandstand of 14,000 to 15,000 people per performance.  The event covered costs and raised money for an inmate treatment, education and recreation fund for the prisoners.  Eventually the performances were held each Sunday in October and would total as many as 100,000 attendees per season.  In its later years, it would not be unusual for the prison rodeo to earn $450,000 in a season for the inmate fund.

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