While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


H. Allen Anderson

BLOCKER, WILLIAM BUTLER (1850–1921). Bill Blocker, rancher and trail driver, the oldest of the three sons of Abner Pickens and Cornelia Randolph (Murphy) Blocker, was born on May 28, 1850, in Mobile, Alabama, where his father owned a cotton plantation. In 1852 the family moved to Texas, settled on a tract south of Austin, and established a cattle ranch. Blocker attended a private school. At the age of ten he began accompanying his father on roundups. He soon proved himself an adept cowhand and quickly mastered the techniques of the trade. Although his father had planned to send him to law school, Blocker went into the cattle business for himself at the age of nineteen. Thomas F. McKinney advanced him $3,000 to buy and round up cattle and make his first drive up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas. In 1871, after gathering more herds in Blanco, Hays, Travis, and Caldwell counties, Blocker and his brother John bought their first ranch in Blanco County; their youngest brother, Ab, joined this family enterprise as a drover in 1876. Although Blocker made fewer trail drives than his brothers did, he was an expert cowman and soon gained several backers. In 1874 he married Elizabeth Eleanor Irving, whose father owned a ranch on the Pedernales in Blanco County. Eight children were born to the couple. Blocker purchased a second ranch between Lockhart and Austin and later ran cattle near Kyle, in Hays County. He built a home in Austin for his family, although he preferred the open range. When automobiles became available he purchased one for the family but continued to drive his horse-drawn buggy. He died on October 28, 1921, and was buried in the family lot in Austin.

Ruth Hunicutt, "Bill Blocker, Pioneer Cattleman," Cattleman, December 1946. J. Marvin Hunter, Trail Drivers of Texas (2 vols., San Antonio: Jackson Printing, 1920, 1923; 4th ed., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Jimmy M. Skaggs, The Cattle-Trailing Industry: Between Supply and Demand, 1866–1890 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1973).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "BLOCKER, WILLIAM BUTLER," accessed June 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl60.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...