Billy McGinty (cowboy)

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William M. McGinty (January 1, 1871 – May 21, 1961) was an Oklahoman cowboy.[1]

As a cowboy in Kansas and the Indian Territory, he became acquainted with fellow cowboy Bill Doolin and others who would later turn outlaw.[2]

A Rough Rider with Theodore Roosevelt and hero at San Juan Hill,[3][4] he also toured with Buffalo Bill's Congress of Rough Riders.[5] He was the first bronc buster in a movie, filmed during an act for the 1889 Paris World's Fair.[6]

In the 1920s, he became the leader of the McGinty's Oklahoma Cowboy Band, which later became Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys, the first nationally famous cowboy band.[7]

He served terms as president of the Cherokee Strip Cowpunchers Association and in 1954 he was elected life-time president of the Rough Riders Association.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.[8]


  1. ^ Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, p. 905: "McGinty took part in one cattle drive in 1889, from the south Plains to Montana, but most of his career was spent breaking horses, sometime more than 400 a season."
  2. ^ Shirley, West of Hell's Frings, pp. 142-143: " 'I [McGinty] got a glimpse of Daugherty's guest later, at a distance, and recognized Bill Doolin. I had worked with him on the Bar X Bar in the Triangle country. I didn't know about his trouble then, so said nothing'."
  3. ^ Walker, Rough Rider, pp. 137-189: "A favorite among the cowboys was 'Little Billy' McGinty, a wiry Oklahoma wrangler and bronc buster. Among the many stories that circulated about McGinty, a favorite concerned his absolute and unwavering inability to stay in step on the parade ground. After repeated chewings-out, the hangdog Little Billy finally implored, 'Let me git my pony. I'm purty sure I kin keep in step on horseback!' "
  4. ^ Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, pp. 162-163: "Little McGinty, the bronco buster, volunteered to make the attempt, and I gave him permission. He simply took a case of hardtack in his arms and darted toward the trenches. The distance was but short, and though there was a outburst of fire, he was actually missed. One bullet, however, passed through the case of hardtack just before he disappeared with it into the trench."
  5. ^ Russell, The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill, p. 419: "In 1899 the Rough Riders of the World included sixteen of Roosevelt's Rough Riders, among them Tom Isbell and William McGinty."
  6. ^ Stewart, "McGinty Boosted for Cowboy Hall": "You could say too that Billy did the first bronco busting shown on a movie film, with a special act arranged for the 1890 Paris world's exposition. In addition to winning a challenge 'world's championship' a bronc busting at Southampton, N.Y.; in a match with Bert Bryan of Arizona."
  7. ^ McRill, "Music in Oklahoma by the Billy McGinty Cowboy Band", pp. 66-67: "Youngblood was a town-promoter of no mean ability and talked with the group and came up with the idea of calling the band 'The Billy McGinty Cowboy Band.' This was a very natural conclusion since Billy McGinty was known nationwide as one of the very early cowboy of Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona."
  8. ^ "Hall of Great Westerners". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 22, 2019.


  • Chlouber, Carla. "Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys: The Country's First Commercial Western Band". Chronicles of Oklahoma, (Winter, 1997–98) 75:4 356-383.
  • Kite, Steve. "Billy McGinty & His Cowboy Band Take to the Air" (transcription). Oklahoma Audio Almanac. Oklahoma State University, May 9, 2001.
  • McRill, Leslie A. "Music in Oklahoma by the Billy McGinty Cowboy Band". Chronicles of Oklahoma, (Spring, 1960) 38:1 66-74.
  • McRill, Leslie A. "The Story of an Oklahoma Cowboy, William McGinty and His Wife". Chronicles of Oklahoma, (Winter 1956)34:4 432-442.
  • Otto Gray's Oklahoma Cowboys. Early Cowboy Band. British Archive of Country Music, CD D 139, 2006.
  • Roosevelt, Theodore. The Rough Riders. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1899.
  • Russell, Donald B. The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill. University of Oklahoma Press, 1979. ISBN 978-0-8061-1537-5
  • Shirley, Glenn. West of Hell's Fringe: Crime, Criminals, and the Federal Peace Officer in Oklahoma Territory, 1889-1907. University of Oklahoma Press, 1990. ISBN 0806122641
  • Stewart, Roy P. " 'McGinty Boosted for Cowboy Hall': Country Boy". Daily Oklahoman. June 5, 1956, p. 3.
  • Thrapp, Dan L. Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography. University of Nebraska Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8032-9419-0
  • Walker, Dale L. Rough Rider: Buckey O'Neill of Arizona. University of Nebraska Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8032-9796-3