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  • Cowboy Charlie Irwin (1875 - 1934)
    Find a Grave Birth: Aug. 14, 1875 Chillicothe Livingston County Missouri, USADeath: Mar. 23, 1934 Laramie County Wyoming, USACharles Burton Irwin was one of the Wild West's best showmen, ever. He was...
  • Mona Bell (1890 - 1981)
    Find a Grave American Rodeo Rider, Newspaper Reporter, Rodeo Singer, "Larger then Life" personality, and the mistress of entrepreneur Samuel Hill.Edith "Mona" Bell was the oldest of three children. Her...
  • Martin Thadeus "Thad" Sowder (1874 - 1931)
    Martin Thadeus "Thad" Sowder (1874-1931) was a son of Daniel E. Sowder & Martha Jane Sowder.Thad was a World Championship Bronco Winner in 1901 and 1902. He & his wife, Anna Ferrell (1882-1917) toured ...
  • Casey Tibbs (1929 - 1990)
    "Floating Horses - The Life of Casey Tibbs" movie from PBS is based on the book of the same name. The Casey Tibbs story on the South Dakota Public Broadcasting website - - motto on Casey Tibb's gravest...
  • Private (1958 - 2010)

Add professional and amateur rodeo cowboys and contestants to this project. People included in this project might also qualify for the Cowboys Project. You can visit HistoryLink to find out which projects include your ancestors.


The American rodeo derived from the Mexican art of Charreria and Jaripeo.

During the decades the sport evolved into its own sport known as the modern American Rodeo. Many rodeo events were based on the tasks required by cattle ranching. The working cowboy developed skills to fit the needs of the terrain and climate of the American west, and there were many regional variations. The skills required to manage cattle and horses date back to the Spanish traditions of the vaquero.

Early rodeo-like affairs of the 1820s and 1830s were informal events in the western United States and northern Mexico with cowboys and vaqueros testing their work skills against one another. Following the American Civil War, rodeo competitions emerged, with the first held in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1872. Prescott, Arizona claimed the distinction of holding the first professional rodeo, as it charged admission and awarded trophies in 1888. Between 1890 and 1910, rodeos became public entertainment, sometimes combined Wild West Shows featuring individuals such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, and other charismatic stars. By 1910, several major rodeos were established in western North America, including the Calgary Stampede, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo-type events also became popular for a time in the big cities of the Eastern United States, with large venues such as Madison Square Garden playing a part in popularizing them for new crowds. There was no standardization of events for a rodeo competition until 1929, when associations began forming.

Source: Rodeo:History of rodeo at Wikipedia

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

The organization was created in 1936 when a group of cowboys walked out of a rodeo at Boston Garden to protest the actions of rodeo promoter W.T. Johnson, who refused to add the cowboys' entry fees to the rodeo's total purse. Johnson finally gave in to the cowboys' demands, and the successful "strike" led to the formation of the Cowboys' Turtle Association. That name was chosen because, while they were slow to organize, when required they were unafraid to stick out their necks to get what they wanted, like turtles might do. Among the organizers was a woman, a four-time national bronc champion, Alice Greenough Orr. In 1945, the Turtles changed their name to the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1975, the organization became the PRCA. The PRCA staff consists of about 70 full-time employees, but grows to nearly 100 during the peak rodeo season. The PRCA headquarters, established in 1979 in Colorado Springs, also houses the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy.

Source: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association at Wikipedia

Famous Rodeo Cowboys and Wild West Show Performers