2006 Hall of Fame Inductee
2006 Hall of Fame Inductee
Knox Simmons was born in Tennessee around 1864 shortly after the Civil War. He was the oldest of eleven siblings and the only son born to Henry and Margaret Simmons.
As a young man, Knox spent most of his life working with cattle on farms and ranches in Tennessee, Texas, and Indian Territory. This is where he developed his professional skills as a real cowboy on the western frontier and trick rider in the Wild West Shows around the country.
He and his family migrated to Oklahoma Indian Territory after the land run of 1889. By the time they migrated to Indian Territory, Knox had experienced the death of eight sisters. He lived on his small ranch and raised livestock in Carter County, Springer Oklahoma. By this time, Knox was known around the country as one of the best cowboys in the nation. In the late 1890’s, Knox was recruited by Zack Mulhall to participate in his famous Wild West Shows that not only toured the U.S., but toured other nations as well. Zack Mulhall owned an 80,000 acre ranch in Mulhall, Oklahoma, and recruited other noted figures such as Will Rogers, Tom Nix, and the great Apache Chief, Geronimo while he was a prisoner of the U.S. and held captive in Ft Sill Oklahoma. As a friend of Zack Mulhall and a favor, President Theodore Roosevelt order Geronimo to participate in the Wild West Shows
In November of 1904 Knox Simmons was a headliner in a Wild West Show at the St. Louis World’s Fair along with Will Rogers and other noted cowboys from around the nation. One of the events that Knox excelled was that as a “Trick Rider”. The Dallas Morning News , St. Louis Globe, and St. Louis Republic newspapers stated that the cowboys in this show were not only the best in the nation, but stated that they were “the best the world had ever seen”.
In addition to this show, Knox entered a roping event at one of the rodeos at the World’s Fair, broke a world record, and won a world championship title. During this time, men of color were not allowed to compete, win titles or money in rodeos. Because Knox was a descendant of a Choctaw grandfather on this father’s side of the family, and his mother’s father was White, Knox was perceived as a Native American. Shortly after he won the world champion roping title it was discovered that he had “black blood he was disqualified.
In the early 1900’s, Knox and the Simmons family were very prosperous in Carter County near Ardmore and employed quite a few people to help out on their farm. Knox’s occasional runs in with the law, his flamboyant personality, and notoriety did not make him popular among the police who were believed to be members of the KKK. Around 1915 Knox was shot and killed as left a building in downtown Ardmore. His death was never investigated and no murderer was ever charged.
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