History

The Ultimate Tall Texas Tale: Pecos Bill, Legend of the Wild West

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Folklore is a big part of Texas culture, as it is for many other regions of the world. Although not a real person in history, Pecos Bill became a personification of the Wild West and Texas in its early years. The stories of Pecos Bill were predominantly consumed by Americans but were also embraced globally by Australian and Argentine cowboys.

The Ultimate Tall Texas Tale: Pecos Bill, Legend of the Wild West

Photo: envato elements

Created chiefly in 1917 by author Edward O’Reilly, as well as other writers, the character of Pecos Bill has a story which began in 1832 Texas when he was separated from his parents and 18 siblings then raised by coyotes, near the Pecos River in West Texas. This upbringing naturally made him the ultimate cowboy, perpetuating stories about making a lasso out of a rattlesnake, taming a tornado, and bareback riding a mountain lion. His innovative spirit, legend goes, credits the invention of the branding iron and pacifying songs for cattle.

Even his trusty horse was incredible; its name was Widow-Maker and it loved to eat dynamite. According to the stories, many Lone Star landmarks exist thanks to Pecos Bill. The Gulf of Mexico? It’s there because our hero wanted to relive a drought. The Rio Grande River? Widow-Maker was thirsty.

The Ultimate Tall Texas Tale: Pecos Bill, Legend of the Wild West

Photo: envato elements

Pecos Bill’s female foil is a character named Slue-Foot Sue. With equally wild stories attached to her, their courtship ends when she tries to ride Widow-Maker but gets bucked so hard she bounced away and never came back. The death of Pecos Bill has many versions, including drinking a deadly concoction and demise by laughing. While these stories continue on, the legend of Pecos Bill is a fantastic view into frontier Texas and ultimately America. Enjoy this fakelore, along with similar stories of Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Fionn mac Cumhaill, and Johnny Kaw, then share with others!