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STEINER, THOMAS CASPER [BUCK]

STEINER, THOMAS CASPER [BUCK] (1899–2001). National Cowboy Hall of Fame member T. C. "Buck" Steiner was born in Cedar Creek in Bastrop County on December 2, 1899. Typical for a farm child, he found himself in the fields picking cotton at age six. At the age of twelve he ran away and began working in Wild West Shows, claiming to be sixteen in order to join. Steiner toured the country with the group and demonstrated a natural talent for rodeo. He could rope calves, wrestle steers, and ride broncos, but became known for riding a bull backwards. The stunt earned him twenty-five dollars, a lucrative amount of money at that time.

At sixteen Steiner returned to Texas where he found work in the San Antonio stockyards and briefly attempted a career in law enforcement. The career ended when he shot at a car full of politicians in order to keep them from entering a street during a parade. He once resorted to breaking two-by-fours over a friend's head after betting bar patrons he could do this without knocking his friend out. He continued to compete in rodeos and even performed stunts for Hollywood before starting a saddle and boot making shop in Austin called Capitol Saddlery in 1930.

The shop proved successful, allowing Steiner to become the owner of Steiner Ranch, which he sold and is now a housing community under the same name owned by Taylor Woodrow Communities. While the shop and ranch meant security for his wife, the former Viola Strosser, and two children, Steiner's life was anything but that of a sedate man. He claimed to have attended parties with notorious mobster Al Capone and gone out drinking with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villaqv. In the 1950s while performing in a self-operated rodeo in Cuba with singer Gene Autry, he found himself in the midst of Castro's Cuban Revolution. After a quick call to then Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, Steiner and his son Tommy were able to get their cattle and money out of the country. In 1993 he was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City after continuing to perform and operate rodeos.

Steiner's latter years were filled with family conflicts. The focus of the disputes was his relationship with Susan Hotte, an employee at Capitol Saddlery, which began in the 1980s. The family grew concerned about the relationship when she was given 194 acres of land near Bastrop and accused Hotte of manipulation. The feud escalated to the point where Steiner was placed in the temporary guardianship of lawyer Bryan Goetz and forbidden from making gifts or getting married without consent from the court.

In 2001 Steiner entered the Specialty Hospital of Austin with kidney failure and began repairing the emotional rifts with his family, particularly with his grandson Bobby Steiner. Buck Steiner had lived an extraordinary life, outliving his wife, children, and most of his famous friends. Before his death on May 14, 2001, his thoughts were of his ranch near Bastrop as he inquired about the mesquite trees on the property, proving he was a true cowboy to the end. He was buried in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American-Statesman, October 23, 1993, June 27, 1999, May 16, 2001. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Stephanie M. Salazar

Citation

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

Stephanie M. Salazar, "STEINER, THOMAS CASPER [BUCK]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstdp), accessed November 26, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 26, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.