Dorrance was born near Enterprise, Oregon on January 19,
1906. The fourth of eight children (Jim, Margaret Potter,
Lillian Stolen, Bill, Fred, Tom, Jean Cockrum, and Ethel
Pimentel) he was raised on the Wallowa County ranch his
parents W. C. "Church" and Minnie Dorrance had established.
Fred, Bill, William
Church (Dad), Minnie (Mother), Jimmy (Jim's Son), Jim & Tom
Wallowa County Fair
Enterprise, Oregon 1935
in braiding came from his younger brother Fred. Fred had
learned to rawhide while working at Gold Creek, Nevada in
the mid 1920's. Bill came to San Juan Bautista, California
in the fall of 1931. His younger brother Fred was staying at
San Juan Bautista with Jack Welch, a bachelor and rawhider.
Bill, Jim and
Tom Dorrance 1970
You are invited to visit the
Dorrance website by clicking here.
Fred braided his first reata for him. His rawhiding came
about the following year due to the fact the reata was
starting to show quite a bit of use, and he could not locate
a reata to purchase. He thought maybe he would get Fred to
braid another reata for him, but Fred was so busy he did not
have time. Fred mentioned that if a fella was using a reata,
he needed to be making his own.
encouragement and with some help from Jack Welch, Bill
braided his first reata. Being a bit smaller than the reata
that his brother Fred had made for him when he first came to
California, he made another. The strings were a bit large on
the second reata, and he soon sold it. From this start Bill
braided, over the next 60 years, 67 reatas, 122 hobbles, 103
hackamores, 35 bosals, 44 sets of reins, 19 quirts, and a
few hundred hondas.
Mt. Toro Corrals around 1987
Steve on Crescent, Leslie and Clifton on Truckle, Bill and
Drew on Diamond
Bill spent eighty
plus years working with horses and cattle and ranching in
general. Bill married in 1949 to Marie Cornett and raised
three sons Bill, Dave and Steve on their Mt. Toro Ranch.
Marie passed away in 1980, and he lived a bachelors life
working with horses and branding calves. Bill passed on in
July of 1999 at the age of 93 shortly after the book True
Horsemanship Through Feel was published.