2008 MONTANA COWBOY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
1860 – 1920 LEGACY AWARD DISTRICT 1
William H. Moecker (1863-1940)
William H. “Billy” Moecker was born August 16, 1863, in Quincy, Illinois, the second child of German immigrants Herman & Elizabeth Moecker. His father was a wealthy hotel owner in Quincy. That life, however, wasn't for young Billy. At age 15 he left the family business to fulfill his dream of becoming a cowboy.
He began his journey in Texas, trailing cattle for the N Bar N outfit up to what is present-day Oswego, Montana. It was during this time that he met the famous Western artist Charles Russell. The two cowboys rode the range together for several years. Many of Charles Russell’s painting depict his fellow cowboys, Billy being one of them.
Billy was also a good artist in his own right. There wasn't a horse Billy wouldn't ride or a cow he couldn't rope, and many of his own Western drawings included vividly illustrated broncos, perhaps the ones he encountered in his own colorful experiences.
After finding his dream country in Valley County, Montana, in 1896, Billy went back to Illinois to wed Mary Jordan. As the couple worked toward their dream of ranching in Montana, Billy continued to punch cows and Mary operated restaurants in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Billy's only child, Harold Howard Moecker, was born January 24, 1897, in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
To earn additional money, Billy worked as a cartoonist for a newspaper in Denver, and he would also print news on bulletin boards by hand and paint various signs throughout town. He once painted a horse on the livery stable in Glasgow, Montana, as a sign on the Hurd Hotel.
Billy loved the open range and eventually made his home on Montana's Milk River, staking a claim on a homestead in 1902. This made him one of the first Valley County residents. In addition to proving-up the homestead, he and his son Harold went on to own an irrigated sugar beet farm and several hundred head of cattle in Valley County. Billy also built one of the finest barns in the country on his ranch, adorning its side with a very ornate painting of a horse.
Every summer for many years, Billy and Mary operated the cookhouse at the shearing plants for JB Long Co. of Frazer, Montana. They also operated the Davenport Restaurant in Glasgow for many years, selling the business to Henry Hurd in 1907.
Billy died unexpectedly in December 1940. Six years later, his only granddaughter, Amarlys Moecker, carried on his cowboy legend when crowned Rodeo Queen in Valley County in 1946. After completing a degree in agriculture from Montana State College and marrying Victor Weinmeister, Amarlys sought to carry on the family interest in ranching and horsemanship, first taught to her by her grandfather William ‘Billy’ Moecker.