Convict Cowboys: The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo

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University of North Texas Press, Aug 15, 2016 - History - 448 pages
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Convict Cowboys is the first book on the nation’s first prison rodeo, which ran from 1931 to 1986. At its apogee the Texas Prison Rodeo drew 30,000 spectators on October Sundays. Mitchel P. Roth portrays the Texas Prison Rodeo against a backdrop of Texas history, covering the history of rodeo, the prison system, and convict leasing, as well as important figures in Texas penology including Marshall Lee Simmons, O.B. Ellis, and George J. Beto, and the changing prison demimonde.  Over the years the rodeo arena not only boasted death-defying entertainment that would make professional cowboys think twice, but featured a virtual who’s who of American popular culture. Readers will be treated to stories about numerous American and Texas folk heroes, including Western film stars ranging from Tom Mix to John Wayne, and music legends such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Through extensive archival research Roth introduces readers to the convict cowboys in both the rodeo arena and behind prison walls, giving voice to a legion of previously forgotten inmate cowboys who risked life and limb for a few dollars and the applause of free-world crowds.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
A Pattern of Neglect
7
Chapter 2 A Cowboys a Man with Guts and a Hoss
27
Chapter 3 The Simmons Years 19301935
45
Chapter 4 The Only Show of Its Kind in the United States 19361939
83
Chapter 5 The War Years 19401946
109
Chapter 6 A Sad State of Affairs 19471949
142
Chapter 7 The West as It Ought to Have Been 19501953
173
Chapter 11 Thats More Bull Than Id Like to Ride 19651969
275
Chapter 12 Huntsville Prison Blues 19701979
299
Chapter 13 The Last Roundup 19801986
339
Epilogue
363
Appendix I Texas Prison Rodeo Timeline
373
Appendix II Top Hand Winners
377
Endnotes
381
Bibliography
411

Chapter 8 Outlaw vs Outlaw 19541959
198
Chapter 9 The Fund Just Appeared Footloose and Fancy Free 19541960
219
Chapter 10 The Texas Prison Rodeo Goes Hollywood 19601964
230

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About the author (2016)

Mitchel P. Roth is the author of more than a dozen books including (with Tom Kennedy) Houston Blue: The Story of the Houston Police Department (UNT Press) and An Eye for An Eye: A Global History of Crime and Punishment. He is professor of criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He resides in The Woodlands, Texas.

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