Local historian presents the life of Cowboy Artist Joe De Yong

Bill Woodard will present on the life of cowboy artist Joe De Yong at the Bartlesville Area History Museum on Thursday July 27, 12 noon until 1:30 p.m., a brown bag event.

Joe De Yong was born in 1894 in Webster Groves, Missouri, he spent over ten years living with and studying the work of Charlie Russell, one of America’s greatest western artists. De Yong eventually moved to Hollywood where he was employed as a consultant on many of the best western movies ever made including, “Shane” starring Alan Ladd. A gifted and little known multi-talented artist, De Yong developed a love for all things western in his formative years spent in Dewey, Oklahoma, 1899-1914.

Woodard’s presentation will cover De Yong's entire life but focus on his time in Dewey and the many colorful characters who influenced him, including Joe Bartles, Sherman Moore, Tom Mix, Earl Woodard, Scott Bruner and the cowboys of the early day Dewey Roundups. In addition, several pieces of original De Yong sketches will be on display.

Bill Woodard, a third generation native Oklahoman has spent most of his life in Washington County. His grandparents on his father’s side came to Oklahoma during Indian Territory days and his grandparents on his mother’s side, arrived approximately two years after Statehood. Woodard, born in Dewey while his father served during WWII, remained in Dewey until after graduating from high school and then left to attend school at the University of Oklahoma where he graduated in 1967. He eventually went to work for the Phillips Petroleum Company as a process engineer in 1973. In 1974, Phillips transferred him to London, England, then to Stavanger, Norway, Houston, Texas, and finally home again in Bartlesville until his retirement in 2002, having worked most of his career in the Engineering Department with an extended stay in Research and Development during the middle years. Bill and his wife Melanie, married for twenty-eight years, have five children and fourteen grandchildren and spend a lot of quality time participating in all the activities that a large family produces; they also enjoy traveling and visiting historic Oklahoma attractions.

With retirement, came time to begin researching his family history and he came across a set of letters written to his grandfather Woodard from Joe De Yong, spanning the years 1927 to 1948, the year of his grandfather's death. There were other letters as well, including letters between his mother and De Yong until his death in 1975. The research of the Woodard family history evolved into the family friend, revealing details of the life of the incredibly gifted artist. Uncovering the connections between the Woodard and De Yong families is an ongoing activity and the most unexpected, and by far, the most rewarding result of this search into family history has been the development of two new friendships. One, a writer and western historian, soon to publish a book on Joe's life, and the second with one of Joe De Yong's cousins who shares a similar passion for discovering Joe's history.

Bill serves on the board of directors for the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, Oklahoma, and on the Friends of the Bartlesville Area History Museum board and he is a member of Grace Community Church.

We hope you can join us on Thursday July 27, at 12 noon.  The Bartlesville Area History Museum is a family friendly facility on the fifth floor of City Hall at 401 S. Johnstone, where admission is free and donations are always welcome. Hours are Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further information, call 918-338-4294.


Bill Woodard

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