Blocker, William Butler (1850–1921)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

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).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
  • Trail Drivers and Riders

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Blocker, William Butler,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994