Today in Texas History – July 28

From the Annals of the Toreros – In 1908, James Harper Gillett made his first appearance as a novillero  at Plaza de Toros in  Guadalajara. Gillett was born in Ysleta in 1884. His parents divorced in 1889, after which he had no contact with his father for twenty-four years.  His mother married Guadalajara resident Samuel M. Lee in 1895. The family lived in Guadalajara and Gillett began calling himself Harper Baylor Lee.  Lee learned the art from his friend Francisco Gómez, El Chiclanero, a retired matador from Spain.  Lee determined to see if he could make it as a as a professional torero. In 1910 he became the first American to attain the rank of matador de toros.  He appeared in fifty-two corridas and killed 100 bulls. His career was cut short by the chaos of the Mexican Revolution. After reconciling with his father in 1914, he changed his name to Harper Baylor Gillett.

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