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Earl Bascom Honored in Mississippi History


Photo of Mississippi Cowboy Earl Bascom with his bronze sculpture "Old Time Bronc Rider"

By John Bascom

Rodeo champion and cowboy artist, Earl Bascom, has been honored in the Mississippi Encyclopedia, on a Mississippi State Historical Marker and in the Mississippi Rodeo Hall of Fame. Earl Bascom, who later became a famous cowboy artist and sculptor, has been called “rodeo’s greatest inventor,” and the “father of modern rodeo.” 

Bascom was known as the Cowboy of Cowboy Artists due to his wide range of western experiences as a professional bronc buster, bull rider, cowpuncher, trail driver, blacksmith, rodeo champion, cattle rancher, and dude wrangler. Bascom was among the last of those who experienced the Old West before the end of free-range ranching.

Back in the 1930s, Earl Bascom cowboyed and rodeoed in Mississippi. Throughout his life, he has been given multiple honors, and now a permanent place in the state history of Mississippi.

He was the first inductee in the Mississippi Rodeo Hall of Fame in Columbia, Marion County, and now his name has been written into the official history of the state of Mississippi as the only cowboy mentioned within the 1,500 printed pages of the recently published first edition of the Mississippi Encyclopedia. The entry on Bascom reads: “Earl W. Bascom, the Father of Modern Rodeo, worked on the Hickman Ranch in Arm. (see: Lawrence County | Mississippi Encyclopedia)
Most recently, Bascom’s name has been placed on a Mississippi State Historical Marker entitled “Birthplace of Mississippi Rodeo.”  This new state historical marker is the first and only one dedicated to the sport of rodeo. This historical marker stands at the site of the very first rodeo in Columbia.

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Bascom was born in Utah in 1906 but raised in Canada.  He came to Mississippi in 1935, where he worked on the historic Hickman Ranch in Lawrence County. 

The Hickman Ranch was the largest ranch in Mississippi, running cattle on 3,000 acres of land. It was once a cotton plantation owned by the family of Senator Stephen A. Douglas who was famous for debating Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s in what is called the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

While working for the Hickman Ranch, Bascom directed and helped produce the first rodeo in Mississippi in the nearby town of Columbia. It was at this rodeo that Bascom met, and later married, Nadine Diffey, a native of Raytown, Madison County, Mississippi.

Bascom was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2016 and inducted into the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1984. Bascom died on August 28, 1995.

Read more about Bascom on Wikipedia.

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