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Bill Hill, a cowboy in the Comanche Pool ranching operation, Comanche County, Kansas.  Photo from the collection of Phyllis Scherich.

BILL HILL, THE POOL'S BRONC BUSTER

From Mrs. Frank King's collection of Comanche Pool pictures comes this prize photo submitted by Mrs. Ben Schultz, a niece of Mrs. King.

This is a photograph of Bill Hill, a black man who came up from Texas and was hired by the Comanche Pool for several years to break horses from the range and change them into docile and dependable steeds for the Pool's line riders.

The camps around the large range were 10 miles apart and when the cattle at any point were stampeding or getting out of hand, as many as 25 riders were dispatched from the headquarters at Evansville to keep the longhorns under control.

This photo of Mr. Hill, taken in 1886 near the close of the Comanche Pool's vast operations, was made in the studio of A.C. Burk in Kiowa.

The heart-shaped decoration with tassels shown on the bronc tamer's shirt was made of braided horsehair by Mr. Hill. His 16-inch boots protected him from the bite of rattlesnakes and mean horses and helped him to wade shallow steams. It is a prize picture.

From The Western Star, Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas. Circa 1974.

Thanks to Phyllis Scherich for this news clipping.


One of the pool cowboys was described by Frank Lockert, Coats, as "the best horse-breaker I ever knew. His name was Bill Hill, a Negro, who came up with some long-horned Mexican cattle from the San Antonio country. He could do anything with a horse. He always wore high-topped boots, a ring on each little finger and a horsehair watch guard on a fancy vest. One day he got drunk in Medicine Lodge and someone doped his liquor and he went crazy. They had to take him away to an institution. But I heard later that he got over it and went back to breaking horses."

Excerpt from Kansas: The Priceless Prairie by Mary Einsel.


 


Daddy, Rube and Mr. Gard went after lumber and Mr. Wheeler stayed at home and worked on the houses.

The second day after they had gone, we could see great clouds rising that looked as black as night to the east and west, almost as far as we could see. Mother told us we would go to the top of the hill not far away and take a look south as she feared we were to have another flood.

But we saw from there that it was a great mountain of smoke. It soon got so black it seemed the whole country was on fire. As we had a strong southwest wind, Mother said, 'Look, a horse backer coming up the creek.' We ran to the bank near our house. Soon we could see that it was Nigger Bill, the faithful old cow hand who had gotten water from our spring many times. He was riding at top speed with his hat waving. He was shouting, 'Flee to the north or backfire, the Indians are burning off the range.'

Excerpt from Perils of the Plains by Hattie Pierce Wimmer, describing an event soon after "The Great Flood of 1885


RELATED HISTORIES:

Jessie Evans of Evansville, Comanche County, Kansas     Notes from the research of Phyllis Scherich.

The History of Evansville, Comanche County, Kansas     Headquarters of the Comanche Pool.

Perils of the Plains     An account of pioneer life as experienced by Will and Hattie Wimmer, how they met, married, and lived within the boundaries of the vast Comanche Cattle Pool of South Central Kansas in the late nineteenth century. Written by Hattie Pierce Wimmer in 1929.

John and Lizzie Platt     John Platt and his Uncle came to Comanche County in 1884, buying shares in the old Comanche Pool.

John W. Platt and the Platt Ranch     A history by Mike Platt and Joyce Reed, Chosen Land: Barber County, Kansas, p. 368..

Obituary of John W. Platt     Published in The Western Star, 6 August 1920. Transcribed by Shirley Brier.

Obituary of Colonel Dick Phillips, an organizer of The Comanche Pool     From The Western Star, 30 June 1916.

Frank & Almada (Parker) King     Frank King was the last foreman of the Comanche Pool.

Christopher Carson "Cap" PEPPERD    Born in Ireland. Confederate Civil War veteran, cowboy, bronc buster, cattle trail driver & early (1874) Comanche County rancher. His ranch foreman, Tommy Wilmore, was a Union veteran of the Civil War.


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